How does diversity affect district innovation systems? Findings from a comparative study of european ceramics

Daniel Gabaldón-Estevan, Ignacio Fernández-de-Lucio
Trilogía Ciencia Tecnología Sociedad

This research applies Nelson’s (1993) primary typology of enterprises to understand why the propensity for innovation varies across ceramics district innovation systems in Europe. We use innovation systems and industrial district theories to explore the innovation capacity of the two most important ceramic tile industrial districts in Europe—Emilia Romagna in Italy and Castellon in Spain. Our analysis shows that, in both districts, innovation plays a decisive role in allowing companies to maintain competitiveness in a globalizing market. However, by comparing the composition of their district innovation systems, our analysis shows that: (i) although levels of competition in both districts are similar, cooperation is stronger in Italy; (ii) scarce technology and advanced service providers in Spain make it predominantly a follower in the adoption of innovation; (iii) higher innovation intensity in Italy is due to diffusion of technology from firms in neighbouring districts specialized in other industry sectors. We provide strong evidence indicating that differences in the industry mix shape both national and district innovation systems.