Innovation Diffusion and Small Firms: Between the Agency of Lifeworld and the Structure of Systems

  • Bjørn T. Asheim


The aim of this chapter is to present a theoretical framework for analysis of some aspects of the process of innovation diffusion both among small and medium sized firms in industrial districts and to such firms from the surrounding businesses and social environment. In this theoretical chapter, special attention will be paid to the role of socio-cultural and political-institutional factors in constraining or enabling innovation diffusion in different regions. The framework will be used in the next step of a continuing research project at the University of Oslo to provide a comparative analysis of small firm enterprise in two industrial districts, one in Italy (Reggio-Emilia in Emilia Romagna), the other in Norway (Jaeren, south of Stavanger), both dominated by the same industrial structure (farm machinery industry). The project will try to identify the regional conditions for (a) flexible specialization and (b) regional systems of production. This will serve as a background for an analysis of the general national and specific regional conditions in Norway for (c) the development and diffusion of flexible specialization, and (d) the establishment and building up of regional systems of production based on flexible specialization as creative and innovative milieus for industrial restructuring and renewal (Asheim, 1988a).


Small Firm Industrial Structure Industrial District Innovation Diffusion Innovative Capacity 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin · Heidelberg 1990

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  • Bjørn T. Asheim

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