Innovation in Ireland's 'high-technology' businesses: the roles of interaction and proximity

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Jordan, Declan
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University College Cork
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This thesis explores the drivers of innovation in Irish high-technology businesses and estimates, in particular, the relative importance of interaction with external businesses and other organisations as a source of knowledge for innovation at the business-level. The thesis also examines the extent to which interaction for innovation in these businesses occurs on a local or regional basis. The study uses original survey data of 184 businesses in the Chemical and Pharmaceutical, Information and Communications Technology and Engineering and Electronic Devices sectors. The study considers both product and process innovation at the level of the business and develops new measures of innovation output. For the first time in an Irish study, the incidence and frequency of interaction is measured for each of a range of agents, other group companies, suppliers, customers, competitors, academic-based researchers and innovation-supporting agencies. The geographic proximity between the business and each of the most important of each of each category of agent is measured using average one-way driving distance, which is the first time such a measure has been used in an Irish study of innovation. Utilising econometric estimation techniques, it is found that interaction with customers, suppliers and innovation-supporting agencies is positively associated with innovation in Irish high-technology businesses. Surprisingly, however, interaction with academic-based researchers is found to have a negative effect on innovation output at the business-level. While interaction generally emerges as a positive influence on business innovation, there is little evidence that this occurs at a local or regional level. Furthermore, there is little support for the presence of localisation economies for high-technology sectors, though some tentative evidence of urbanisation economies. This has important implications for Irish regional, enterprise and innovation policy, which has emphasised the development of clusters of internationally competitive businesses. The thesis brings into question the suitability of a cluster-driven network based approach to business development and competitiveness in an Irish context.
High technology business , Product innovation , Process innovation , Business interaction , Business proximity , Ireland
Jordan, D. 2007. Innovation in Ireland's 'high-technology' businesses: the roles of interaction and proximity. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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