Cumulative and combinatorial knowledge dynamics: Their role for continuity and change in regional path development
This thesis addresses the question of how regions can adapt to technological and social changes. In the face of recent economic rises, disruptive digitalization, and the need to transition towards sustainability, processes of diversification, transformation, and renewal have become increasingly important to strengthen the dynamics development of regions. While the creation or the lock-in of regional development paths has received a lot of attention by economic geographers, studies on the transformation of existing paths are relatively scarce. Instead, in recent decades scientific, political, and economic actors alike have promoted a logic of specialization to support regional competitiveness. Yet the processes outlined above require that these specializations are combined with novel, external knowledge inputs. In order to capture these processes of the accumulation and combination of knowledge, this thesis introduces and applies the concept of knowledge dynamics. It differentiates interaction processes by the degree of institutional and cognitive distance that actors have to bridge. In the theoretical framework of this thesis, these knowledge dynamics are brought together with path development research of the Evolutionary Economic Geography and Innovation Systems literature strands. At the center of this thesis stand the questions of how different knowledge dynamics influence, and are influenced by, the elements and institutions of regional economic landscapes. In four papers based on empirical material from different contexts, these interfaces are explored. Thereby the focus is laid on knowledge dynamics in symbolic knowledge bases of music scenes, as the field of non-technological innovation is relatively underexplored despite its increasing economic significance. In order to quantitatively measure innovation and knowledge dynamics in this creative industry, this thesis employs so-called resonance indicators derived from digital social data. The findings of this thesis show that the interplay of cumulative and combinatorial knowledge dynamics leads to processes of path modernization and branching. While cumulative knowledge dynamics guide the direction of potential diversification routes, combinatorial knowledge dynamics affect the creation and transformation of new organizations and institutions. In order to promote these dynamics, path plasticity and the openness to extralocal knowledge sources should be promoted.
Marburg, Univ., Diss., 2018