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Avoiding cognitive lock-in in a mature Marshallian Industrial District: the Potteries

Room 105 University House
Lectures Talks and Workshops, Social Sciences
Thursday 5th March 2015 (12:00-13:00)
Download the date to your calendar (.ics file)

Global Value Chains Research Cluster Seminar Series

Speakers: Professor Marco Bellandi (University of Florence), Dr Lisa De Propris (Birmingham Business School) and Erica Santini (University of Florence)


Path-dependent evolutionary processes and localised tacit knowledge are often argued to be critical issues at times of technological change for local production systems, which by definition share a dispersed mechanism of innovation and learning.  Marshallian Industrial Districts (MIDs) are a specific case of local production systems; ample evidence has shown that their adaptability and survival have been plagued by strong path dependence and proneness to cognitive lock-in. In reality, MIDs are characterised by an assortment of knowledge and competences coinciding with an internal complex value chain (referred to in the literature as ‘polycentricity’ -Becattini, 2006) and decentralised dynamic creativity processes (referred to as ‘multiplicity’ -Bellandi, 1996).  Such features should enable MIDs to rely on endogenous mechanisms to reproduce variety of competences and roles, as well as flexibility in the internal configuration of tasks and linkages. 

This paper is part of the broader debate on cluster life cycle. We propose to study the evolution of MIDs by means of a complex system analysis using longitudinal firm-based data on the ceramic tableware district in Stoke-on-Trent between 2005 and 2013. The results show that this district has a growing number of firms; that there was a spawning of competence nuclei (sectors and size) in new related and unrelated sectors and that firms tend to populate such nuclei in a constant way. So we would argue that in the case of the ceramics tableware district, we find evidence of an endogenous mechanism that ensures the reproducibility of competences, tasks and linkages. This would suggest that the decentralised internal creativity process works and the district has a chance to avoid cognitive lock-in.

Speaker profiles:

Marco Bellandi is Full Professor of Applied Economics at the University of Florence. Currently, Pro-vice chancellor for Knowledge Transfer and External Relations, President of Centro Servizi di Ateneo per la Valorizzazione della Ricerca e la Gestione dell’Incubatore Universitario. He is President of the Fondazione per la Ricerca e l'Innovazione and Director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Florence . He teaches in postgraduate degree courses in the School of Economics and Management on Industrial economics and policy; Local Industrial Development. 

Erica Santini is a visiting PhD in Birmingham Business School (October-March 2015). She is PhD researcher at the University of Florence in Local Development Economics. Her research topics are innovation, learning and structural change in Local Production System.

Lisa De Propris is Reader in Regional Economic Development and Director of the GVC Research Cluster in BBS.

Lunch will be provided. 

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