The role of a firm's absorptive capacity and the technology transfer process in clusters: How effective are technology centres in low-tech clusters?

Autores UPV
Revista Entrepreneurship and regional development


This paper analyses how the internal resources of small- and medium-sized enterprises determine access (learning processes) to technology centres (TCs) or industrial research institutes (innovation infrastructure) in traditional low-tech clusters. These interactions basically represent traded (market-based) transactions, which constitute important sources of knowledge in clusters. The paper addresses the role of TCs in low-tech clusters, and uses semi-structured interviews with 80 firms in a manufacturing cluster. The results point out that producer-user interactions are the most frequent; thus, the higher the sector knowledge-intensive base, the more likely the utilization of the available research infrastructure becomes. Conversely, the sectors with less knowledge-intensive structures, i.e. less absorptive capacity (AC), present weak linkages to TCs, as they frequently prefer to interact with suppliers, who act as transceivers of knowledge. Therefore, not all the firms in a cluster can fully exploit the available research infrastructure, and their AC moderates this engagement. In addition, the existence of TCs is not sufficient since the active role of a firm's search strategies to undertake interactions and conduct openness to available sources of knowledge is also needed. The study has implications for policymakers and academia. © 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.