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the environment in the development of firms innovative capacities - Argentine industrial SMEs from different local systems

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The new economic scenario increases the importance of the “innovative capacity” ofthe agents as crucial competitive instrument in order to attain the differentiatingelement required by the competitive process. Innovative capacity refers to the agents’capability to transform general knowledge into specific one using their stock ofcompetencies and dynamic assets, including formal and informal –both codified andtacit- learning.In this paper we recognize that the economic, social and institutional environment offirms becomes increasingly important. The new competitive situation and theuncertainties generated by the economic globalization process intensify the role ofinstitutional and social agents in strengthening the innovative capacity of firms. This,in turn, results in the generation of technological, organizational and marketknowledge and in the development of formal and informal mechanisms to facilitate itsdiffusion through the productive internal network. In the framework defined by thenew production and market conditions, innovative processes change from anindividual (and often incremental) phenomenon to a collective one where both thecapacity to collaborate and interact and the adequate institutional structure, fosteringinnovative activities on the part of economic agents, become crucial.The main objective of this paper is to present a proxy indicator of the agents’potentiality to learn, create “competencies”, transform generic knowledge intospecific knowledge and, therefore, innovate. It aims at analyzing the knowledge offirms, specially, the way they acquire, organize, memorize and transfer information(technical, organizational, etc.) thus contributing to increase the knowledge baseitself.For that purpose, this paper analyze the application of such indicator to a sample of245 firms in Argentina, most of them small and medium sized firms, located indifferent areas with heterogeneous incidence of externalities. In that sense, we will tryto determine the importance of the agent’s size and environment to understand theexisting differences in innovative capacities. Finally, the paper will evaluate whetherthose firms with larger innovative capacity have had a more dynamic performance inthe market as from the start of the trade openness and structural reforms processes.

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Gabriel Yoguel

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