Temporary Clusters and Knowledge Creation - The Effects of International Trade Fairs, Conventions and Other Professional Gatherings
Business people and professionals regularly come together at conventions,congresses, conferences, trade fairs and exhibitions. Here, their latest and most advancedfindings, inventions and products are revealed and evaluated by peers and competitors, aswell as by customers and suppliers. Organising or participating in such events are means toidentify the current market frontier, take stock of relative competitive positions and formfuture plans. These events exhibit many of the characteristics ascribed to permanentclusters, albeit in a temporary, periodic and intensified form. The temporary clusters arehotspots of intense knowledge exchange, network building and idea generation.In investigating the extent and nature of these phenomena, the present paper explores anumber of issues. First, it shows that international trade fairs and other professionalgatherings are events which enable firms to compare their own products with others whichare available to the world market. Comparisons to and interactions with other firmsstimulate processes of knowledge creation. Second, it demonstrates how trade fairs areimportant for firms when selecting partners with whom to develop global pipelines,enabling access to distant markets and technologies. Third, it compares such temporaryclusters with permanent territorial hubs within their respective sector or industry. If regularparticipation in temporary clusters could satisfy a firm’s need to learn through interactionwith suppliers, customers, peers and rivals, why is the phenomenon of permanent clusteringso pervasive?The answer, it is claimed, lies in the restrictions imposed on economic activity whenknowledge and ideas are transformed into valuable products and services. The paper shedsnew light on how interaction among firms in current clusters coincides with theconfiguration of knowledge-intensive pipelines out of the cluster. It examines theprocedures selected by firms in developing ideas or gaining access to new knowledge andcompares these organisational forms to those chosen when using knowledge for commercialpurposes.Keywords: economic geography, knowledge creation, clusters, temporary clusters, tradefairs, conventions, pipelinesJEL-codes: D83, L22, O17, O18, R12
Peter Maskell, Harald Bathelt, Anders Malmberg
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