The Role of Communicators in Innovation Clusters: A Qualitative Study of the Munich and Cambridge Innovation Clusters
Bettina Blasini - (School of Education, Technical University of Munich)
Tim Minshall - (Centre for Technology Management, IfM)
This paper analyses the role of communicators in innovation clusters in order to provide a new perspective on clustering dynamics. While previous research included knowledge gathering and information sharing as critical element in the cluster’s successful development, communicative activities have not been analysed empirically. To address this interdisciplinary research interest, the literature review brings together the research fields cluster theories and innovation communication to make interrelations and complementation visible. To operationalize the research interest, a conceptual model has been created, suggesting an Individual Level, an Organizational Level, a Cluster Level and a Context. Based on the model 23 in-depth interviews have been conducted with key communicators of the two innovation clusters Munich and Cambridge. The findings suggest significant differences between the case studies, as Munich communicators don’t agree upon a cluster identity whereas Cambridge communicators share a common understanding, influencing professional positions and practices, self-perceptions and aims, network dynamics and structures.
The results contribute theoretical insight to cluster theories by revealing the communicators’ influence on the creation of knowledge and network externalities and to the new research field innovation communication by discussing the communicators’ capacity in terms of open innovation and dynamic capabilities. Furthermore the study provides practical implications to the currently relevant issues of cluster communication and policies addressing research and innovation.
Keywords: Communicators, innovation cluster, Munich, Cambridge