“Knowledge and innovation are the two main resources of contemporary capitalism. To study and understand these roles, it is first helpful to draw on the theory of systems. Technological innovation cannot be understood when isolated from its context. Putting innovation in perspective requires a holistic and systemic approach: new technologies, new products, but also new markets, new organization and new management practices. The authors in this volume stress the importance of cognitive and social link- ages, as well as the role of ‘communities of practice’ in the assessment and analysis of innovation within the enterprise, local and national economies and at the international level. The approach of scholars as well as practi- tioners should be directed toward the economic and social impacts of innovation activities.
The authors here perform a series of studies at different levels (research labs, enterprises and networks) and throughout systems of innovation and innovative milieux based upon practical cases, to present emerging ideas from established theoretical developments of economists, historians and geographers. Indeed, the genesis of knowledge and its diffusion (informa- tion) depends upon the density of the relationships among individuals and organizations at both micro-economic and macro-economic levels. What may be concluded from the analysis is that some specific actors (the state, enterprises) determine separately but also jointly, the process of diffu- sion, coordination and standardization of knowledge and technologies. Institutional and entrepreneurial networks play a fundamental role (vis-à- vis the employee or the entrepreneur) in the explanation of the systemic nature and the dynamics of innovation within contemporary capitalism. Cognitive relations between the actors of innovation show that the issue of appropriation of knowledge is as important as the production of new knowledge for the genesis of innovation.
The permanent innovation strategy of the enterprise needs continuous flows of scientific and technological inputs. Externalities and agglomeration effects are two phenomena associated with location that must be taken into account in the constitution and constant renewal of the enterprise’s scientific and technological potential. Location choice is a precursor to the reinforcement of the firm’s innovation capacities, allowing it to reach new markets and to penetrate complex networks (enterprises, research centres, other institutions). These networks constitute pools of resources for large enterprises and are seen as an essential tool for the creation of new innova- tive businesses and for regional development.”