Knowledge flows and industrial clusters: assessing the sources of competitive advantage in two English regions

Chris John Corker, Joe Lane, John Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


How knowledge is created, accessed, stored and disseminated has
become a major focus of study when assessing the success or failure of
industrial clusters. Marshall (1890; 225) initiated this debate when he
noted: ‘The mysteries of the trade become no mysteries; but are as it
were in the air’. In the edited collection by Wilson, Corker and Lane
(2022), emphasis has been placed on the links between knowledge,
knowledge flows and how innovation systems evolve and adapt. This
paper builds on their work examining how tacit and codified knowledge is
created and disseminated across a cluster. Bathelt et al (2004) have
demonstrated how successful clusters build effective ‘global pipelines’ to
access knowledge generated elsewhere, prompting us to think how a
business history analysis can incorporate these concepts and how these
processes have worked in practice. The paper analyses two English
clusters and the processes involved in the formation of a common body
of knowledge, a ‘knowledge-cum-industrial zeitgeist’ which explains the
cluster’s performance. Specifically, it proposes a model that links
internally-generated knowledge and ‘global pipelines’ that clusters
develop to tap into externally-generated knowledge, which through
effective feedback into the ‘local buzz’ results in further innovation and
strengthens the cluster’s competitive advantage.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnterprise & society
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 4 Dec 2023

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