Journal of the Knowledge Economy

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 18–34 | Cite as

What Is the Effect of Synergy Provided by International Collaborations on Regional Economies?

  • Inga IvanovaEmail author
  • Øivind Strand
  • Loet Leydesdorff


In the present paper, we analyze the effect of international collaboration on regional markets. We compare two Norwegian counties with very different profiles in terms of how international or regional cooperation affects the synergy generated among the geographical, technological, and organizational distributions of firms. This synergy is much larger in the rural region with international industry than in the region with a strong knowledge infrastructure. International firms can take the role of knowledge brokers in lagging regions with weak knowledge institutions. The methodological contribution of this study is that we translate the synergy (abstractly measured in bits of information) into more familiar economic terms, such as turnover for the special case of domestic-foreign collaborations. The analysis is based on Norwegian data, as Norway is a small country with an open and export-oriented economy. Data for Norway is publicly available in great detail. The Triple-Helix synergy caused by firms with foreign ownership is a new indicator of the international contribution to the efficiency of the innovation system in a region. The indicator can also be interpreted as a measure of the attractiveness of regional industries to international corporations, which entails the perspective of international technology transfer and the access of regional industry products to global markets.


International collaboration Triple Helix Synergy Measuring 



This paper was presented at the conference Cross-Border Markets of Goods and Services: Issues for Research, held by the Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok, Russia, May 27–28, 2015. We acknowledge comments and feedback from several colleagues in the discussion. We thank two anonymous reviewers for insightful comments and suggestions for improvements of the manuscript. Inga Ivanova acknowledges support within the framework of the Basic Research Program at the National Research University Higher School of Economics (NRU HSE) and within the framework of a subsidy by the Russian Academic Excellence Project “5-100.”

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


  1. Abramson, N. (1963). Information theory and coding. New York , etc: McGraw Hill.Google Scholar
  2. Ashby, W. R. (1964). Constraint analysis of many-dimensional relations. General Systems Yearbook, 9, 99–105.Google Scholar
  3. Asheim, B. T., & Grillitsch, M. (2015). Smart specialisation: sources for new path development in peripheral manufacturing region. In Ø. Strand, E. Nesset, & H. Yndestad (Eds.), Fragmentering eller mobilisering? Regional utvikling i Nordvest (pp. 87–113). Ålesund: Forlag1.Google Scholar
  4. Asheim, B. T., Cooke, P., & Martin, R. (2006). The rise of the cluster concept in regional analysis and policy. Clusters and regional development: critical reflections and explorations, 1–29.Google Scholar
  5. Asheim, B. T., & Isaksen, A. (2002). Regional innovation systems: the integration of local ‘sticky’ and global ‘ubiquitous’ knowledge. Journal of Technology Transfer, 27(1), 77–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bathelt, H., Malmberg, A., & Maskell, P. (2004). Clusters and knowledge: local buzz, global pipelines and the process of knowledge creation. Progress in Human Geography, 28(1), 31–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Blau, P. M., & Schoenherr, R. A. (1971). The structure of organizations. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  8. Cooke, P. (1992). Regional innovation systems: competitive regulation in the new Europe. Geoforum, 23, 365–382.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cooke, P., Memedovic, O. (2003). Strategies for regional innovation systems: learning transfer and applications. Accessed 2008.04.2016
  10. Eurostat (2008). NACE Rev.2 – Statistical classification of economic activities in the European Community, Luxemburg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities,
  11. Fløysand, A., Jakobsen, S. E., & Bjarnar, O. (2012). The dynamism of clustering: interweaving material and discursive processes. Geoforum, 43, 948–958.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Freeman, C. (1987). Technology policy and economic performance: lessons from Japan. London: Pinter.Google Scholar
  13. Freeman, C., & Soete, L. (1997). The economics of industrial innovation (Third ed.). London: Pinter.Google Scholar
  14. Frøystad, M. K., & Nesset, E. (2015). Geographical sources of innovation for upstream companies in a regional maritime cluster. In Ø. Strand, E. Nesset, & H. Yndestad (Eds.), Fragmentering eller mobilisering? Regional utvikling i Nordvest (pp. 87–113). Ålesund: Forlag1.Google Scholar
  15. GCE Blue Maritime. (2016). 15.04.2016
  16. Gereffi, G., & Lee, J. (2012). Why the world suddenly cares about global supply chains. Journal of Supply Chain Management, 48(3), 24–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gereffi, G., & Lee, J. (2016). Economic and social upgrading in global value chains and industrial clusters: why governance matters. Journal of Business Ethics, 133, 25–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gereffi, G., Humphrey, J., & Sturgeon, T. (2005). The governance of global value chains. Review of international political economy, 12(1), 78–104.Google Scholar
  19. Hidalgo, C. A., & Hausmann, R. (2009). The building blocks of economic complexity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(26), 10570–10575.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Humphrey, J., & Schmitz, H. (2002). How does insertion in global value chains affect upgrading in industrial clusters? Regional Studies, 36(9), 1017–1027.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Isaksen, A. (2009). Innovation dynamics of global competitive regional clusters: the case of the Norwegian center of expertise. Regional Studies, 43(9), 1155–1166.Google Scholar
  22. Isaksen, A. (2005). Regional clusters building on local and non-local relationships: a European comparison. Proximity, Distance and Diversity: Issues on Economic Interaction and Local Development, 129–152.Google Scholar
  23. Isaksen, A., & Karlsen, J. (2012). Can small regions construct regional advantages? The case of four Norwegian regions. European Urban and Regional Studies, 20(2), 245–257.Google Scholar
  24. Isaksen, A., & Onsager, K. (2010). Regions, network and innovation performance: the case of knowledge-intensive industries in Norway. European Urban and Regional Studies, 17(3), 227–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kauffeld-Monz, M., & Fritsch, M. (2013). Who are the knowledge brokers in regional systems of innovation? A multi-actor network analysis. Regional Studies, 47(5), 669–685.Google Scholar
  26. Ketels, C., & Huggins, R. (2011). Clusters and competitiveness: Porter’s contribution. Competition, Competitive Advantage and Clusters: The Ideas of Michael Porter, 173–191.Google Scholar
  27. Krippendorff, K. (2009). Information of interactions in complex systems. International Journal of General Systems, 38(6), 669–680.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lengyel, B., & Leydesdorff, L. (2011). Regional innovation systems in Hungary: the failing synergy at the national level. Regional Studies, 45(5), 677–693.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lewer, J. J., & Berg, H. V. d. (2003). How large is international trade’s effect on economic growth? Journal of Economic Surveys, 17(3), 363–396.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Leydesdorff, L., Dolfsma, W., & Van der Panne, G. (2006). Measuring the knowledge base of an economy in terms of triple-helix relations among ‘technology. Organization, and Territory’ Research Policy, 35(2), 181–199.Google Scholar
  31. Leydesdorff, L., & Etzkowitz, H. (1996). Emergence of a triple helix of university–industry government relations. Science and Public Policy, 23, 279–286.Google Scholar
  32. Leydesdorff, L., & Fritsch, M. (2006). Measuring the knowledge base of regional innovation systems in Germany in terms of a Triple Helix dynamics. Research Policy, 35, 1538–1553.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Leydesdorff, L., & Ivanova, I. (2014). Mutual redundancies in inter-human communication systems. Steps towards a calculus of processing meaning. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 65(2), 386–399.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Leydesdorff, L., Perevodchikov, E., & Uvarov, A. (2015). Measuring triple-helix synergy in the Russian innovation systems at regional, provincial, and national levels. Journal of the Association of Information Science and Technology, 66(5), 1001–1016.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Leydesdorff, L., & Strand, Ø. (2013). The Swedish system of innovation: regional synergies in a knowledge-based economy. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 64(9), 1890–1902. doi: 10.1002/asi.22895.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lundquist, K. J., & Trippl, M. (2013). Distance, proximity and types of cross-border innovation systems: a conceptual analysis. Regional Studies, 47(3), 450–460.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lundvall, B.-Å. (1988). Innovation as an interactive process: from user–producer interaction to the national innovation systems. In G. Dosi, C. Freeman, R. R. Nelson, G. Silverberg, & L. Soete (Eds.), Technical change and economic theory. London: Pinter.Google Scholar
  38. Lundvall, B.-Е. (1992). Introduction. In B.-Е. Lundvall (Ed.), National systems of innovation: towards a theory of innovation and interactive learning. London: Pinter.Google Scholar
  39. Maskell, P., & Malmberg, A. (1999a). The competitiveness of firms and regions: ‘ubiquitification’ and the importance of localized learning. European Urban and Regional Studies, 6, 9–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Maskell, P., & Malmberg, A. (1999b). Localised learning and industrial competitiveness. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 23, 167–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Menon (2012). Eksport fra norske regioner-Hvorfor så store forskjeller (Norwegian) (Export from Norwegian regions—why are there so large differences?), Menon-publication nr. 2/2012. Retrieved from Accessed 10.05.2016
  42. Ministry of Petroleum and Energy (2012). Norways’s oil history in 5 minutes. Retrieved from Accessed 10.05.2016
  43. NCE Instrumentation. (2016). Accessed 15.04.2016
  44. NIFU -STEP (2011). NIFU report;2011-40, Measuring Public Innovation in Nordic Countries. Report on the Nordic Pilot studies - Analyses of methodology and results, Bugge, Markus; Mortensen, Peter S.; Bloch, Carter.Google Scholar
  45. OECD (2006). Supporting the contribution of higher education institutions to regional development, peer review report: Trøndelag (Mid-Norwegian Region), Norway 2006. retrieved April 15, 2011 from: 4
  46. Onsager, K., Aslesen, H.W., Gundersen, F., Isaksen, A., Langeland, O. (2010). City regions, advantages and innovation, NIBR report 2010(5), Oslo, 2010. Retrieved from: Accessed 10.05.2016
  47. Petersen, A., Rotolo, D., & Leydesdorff, L. (2016). A triple helix model of medical innovations: supply, demand, and technological capabilities in terms of medical subject headings. Research Policy, 45(3), 666–681. doi: 10.1016/j.respol.2015.12.004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Porter, M. E. (1998). Clusters and the new economics of competition (Vol. 76, No. 6, pp. 77–90). Boston: Harvard Business Review.Google Scholar
  49. Porter, M. E. (2000). Location, competition, and economic development: Local clusters in a global economy. Economic Development Quarterly, 14(1), 15–34.Google Scholar
  50. Strand, Ø., & Leydesdorff, L. (2013). Where may synergy be indicated in the Norwegian innovation system? Triple Helix relations among technology, organization, and geography. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 80(3), 471–484.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Yeung, R. W. (2008). Information theory and network coding. New York, NY: Springer.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Inga Ivanova
    • 1
    Email author
  • Øivind Strand
    • 2
  • Loet Leydesdorff
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of KnowledgeNational Research University Higher School of Economics (NRU HSE)MoscowRussia
  2. 2.Department of International BusinessNorwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) AalesundAalesundNorway
  3. 3.Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR)University of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations