Global Geographies of Innovation in University of Massachusetts

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Introduction

The past few decades have seen massive increase in trade taking place across borders, i.e. between international organizations. It has consequently increased international flow of capital as well as labor, leading to competitiveness between organizations. To stay more competitive, many of these organizations have managed to prosper more in their respective high income economies, relying mainly on their ability to innovate (Cooke, 2001). Additionally, as more organizations increasingly go global, there is parallel growth on their economic independence; increased communication technology that facilitates innovative activities.

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If one considers the production and circulation of new knowledge to be the core of innovation, then it is important to have a sound understanding of the nature of different types of knowledge involved in their geographical tendencies (Currah & Wrigley, 2004). Secondly, one should understand the importance of regional innovation systems and the role they play in generating and circulating new knowledge leading to innovation. Thirdly, the relationship between regions innovations and institutional frameworks at international level should be understood. Finally, it is important to understand the relationship between local and global knowledge flow and whether there is any evidence that the global nature of today’s economy has weakened or altered the influence of proximity on the geography of innovation. Therefore, this paper will outline and explain the global geographies of innovation within the University of Massachusetts.

Background

University of Massachusetts aims at offering affordable and high quality education to students from all over the world. It also aims at providing programs of research and public service in order to increase the student’s knowledge. Moreover, the university works towards improving the lives of commonwealth people and people all over the world. The main campus is located in North Dartmouth and it s offers popular programs like engineering, nursing, science and business among others. It was started in 1861 in order to cater for the increasing industrialization in united state (Feldman, Francis & Bercovitz, 2005). The university was also established in order to help in economic growth and to help business survive in the global economy. In order to achieve this, the university’s goals included working together with companies in overcoming the technological challenges in the whole world. The other goal is use of university resources in order to carry out research on the challenges facing the businesses. Further, the university’s third goal is to enhance information exchange among business either locally, national wide or internationally. In order to achieve a growing economy which is health, the university believes that business, community and students should work together.

Research and Development

The University of Massachusetts has established a Business Innovation Research Centre (BIRC) whose aim is to help individual business to grow. It helps companies in issues like management of supply chain and knowledge of good e-business. In particular the university carries out an important role of helping those business dealing with manufacturing, technology and marine sciences by showing them how to run the business properly and ovoid the challenges in the global economy (Feldman, Francis & Bercovitz, 2005). The university carries out a thorough research through experienced people on a certain problem and then the businesses are given the accurate advice and information on how to deal with the problem. In order to also ensure proper information exchange the university works together with chambers of commerce.

In order for a business to remain strong in the economy, research is very important in order to understand the challenges and trends in the economy. Business Innovation Research Center in University of Massachusetts has been for exploration and increasing of knowledge through research process. The research center works together with companies and organizations to look for funds to finance projects which are meant to serve the needs of businesses locally and internationally. BIRC invites students from various universities in United States and from broad in carrying out the research in order to ensure that results got are international in nature and timely. This multicultural and multi-disciplinary type of research benefits businesses all over the world.

Offering timely information, to businesses and students is the mission of BIRC and thus it hosts meetings and seminars in order to discuss various business issues. The center is committed in teaching people who will be the business leaders in future. Students in the university are involved in the activities of the center and thus they help individual companies which may have requested for any help.

Technology

The University of Massachusetts is a leader in research and innovation world wide. This leadership role goes far beyond the boarders of the Unite States. The innovative economy results to generation of exports to the world markets and also attracts companies which are technology based from all over the world, competent workers and also students. Research by the university helps organizations and companies to come up with new products using new technology. Economic activities, technological changes and innovation depend on new economic knowledge.

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Spillover of economic knowledge results to increase in companies’ returns and the overall economic growth. Research and development from the University of Massachuset spill over for other organizations and companies to exploit in order to succeed in the global changes. Innovation activities in some companies are more concentrated than other companies because the location of production is partially concentrated (Bunnell & Coe, 2001). Technological revolution based on ICT makes it less difficult to operate activities long distance. On the other hand, the radical change taking place within the technology itself gives privilege to agents interacting face to face and for hands on experience. The role of localization in technological innovation and deployment is important because certain forms of innovation emerge from interactivity knowledge and know-how spill over which occur in restricted geographical spaces as well as defined organizational spaces. One of the major issue of massechusett university students of economic development in the reflexive learning economy of contemporary capitalism is therefore the geography of knowledge and know how development.

Focus on international linkages

Globalization enhances the need for international innovation. The university offers interactive learning and close interaction between students and business people from all over the world. A research on globalization which was done by the university indicated that no country can survive on its own and therefore regions and countries are becoming internationalized through integrating with global production networks or through acquisitions. International linkages help countries to access knowledge, materials, machinery and finance. University of Massachusetts offers expertise to companies on such field as marketing, managerial and technical expertise. Engineering expertise is also offered to help companies to carry out their daily technical duties like customization, maintenance and servicing. Research and development from the university has helped companies to customize and differentiate their products thus enabling them to compete and survive in the global markets. Products differentiation capabilities may result to foreign distributing centers to perform product design roles. Research by the university helps organizations and companies to come up with new products using new technology.

Massachusetts University provides tacit knowledge to business people which is a key determinant of the geography of innovative activity (Amin & Cohendet, 2005). Innovation has come to be based increasingly on the interactions and knowledge flows between economic entities such as firms, research organizations and public agencies. The university has adopted the learning by interacting model as the corner stone of its conceptual framework and argues that the production of tacit knowledge occurs simultaneously with the act of transmission. According to this perspective, knowledge does not flow unidirectional from technology producers to users. Instead, users provide tacit and proprietary, coded knowledge to producers in order to enable the latter to device innovative solutions to user’s practical problems. At the same time by supplying users with innovative technologies, producers are also sharing their tacit and other proprietary knowledge with their customers. The end product arising from this close interaction benefits both users and producers (Patel and Pavitt, 1994).

Innovation systems have geographical dimensions which are always open. Some stages of innovation process are truly localized and involve face to face interactions and hands on experimenting. For example an engineer may tinker with a prototype machine together with a skilled worker to find a solution to a malfunction problem or senior and junior researcher may work side by side in the laboratory trying to explain some foreseen feature of new drug. Other stage may be much less dependent on geographical distance between the interacting partners. For example scientists may be able to define a problem in global scientific language and communicate solutions across the world. Also engineers working in separate but similar organizations may exchange information of crucial importance for the innovation process electronically.

University of Massachusetts has been able to lift knowledge out of its local context through a process of codification and by embodying it into new products and systems helping distance users. Experience based and science based mode of innovation co-exist and complement each other and they both operate in geographical space, but the mechanisms for diffusing knowledge across systems and the absorptive capacity necessary to get real access to the knowledge is quite different (Morgan, 1997).

Innovation has become the single most important source of competitiveness in advanced economies and success in building innovative capacity has a strong relationship to a countries overall competitiveness and the level of prosperity. The national innovative capacity framework allows a detailed examination of sources of large and persistent differences across countries in innovation performance (Bathelt, Malmberg, & Maskell, 2004). Moreover knowledge acquisition, application and improvement are part and parcel of technical innovation. This is why economic geography has interest in learning by doing in the process of technical innovation. Each research on the geography of innovation concentrates on the location of corporate research and development labs since these units demand skilled scientific labor.

For all the research and development and learning involved, technology would not progress very far without the investment of large sums of money.

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Conclusion

While there is a general agreement that the rate of technical change is important in determining an economy’s rate of growth, there is limited understanding of the sources of technical progress and of why the pace of progress varies over time and space (Coe & Bunnell, 2003). The new growth theories find that the divergence in growth rates may be as a result of increasing returns to knowledge. Geographic concentration of knowledge facilitates information searches, increase search intensity and ease task coordination. The presence of external economies accruing to knowledge creates spatial difference in the distribution of economic activity. Innovation depends on knowledge and therefore, new products are the result of commercialization process which begins with invention, proceeds with product development and results in market introduction.

Commercially viable product innovations combine scientific and technical knowledge with knowledge of the market (Bunnell & Coe, 2001).

For students of economic development form university of Massachusetts, innovation is seen as the product of entrepreneurs who harness the resources required for innovation, profit and growth. Analysis of innovation has typically been confined to the organizational boundaries of the individual firm, however the notion that the capacity to innovate incorporates external sources of knowledge has gained acceptance. Innovation is characterized as an intrinsically uncertain problem solving process which blends private knowledge with public knowledge. Primary knowledge comes from within firms but it also found in industry association and networks of related firms and support services. Public knowledge on the other hand is obtained from institutions that support research and development in scientific and technical fields.

Geography provides organization with the diverse types of knowledge needed for new product commercialization (Amin & Cohendet, 2005). The sources of knowledge are embodied in human and institutional form and are less geographical mobile than financial capital. The source of knowledge, the public and public institutions in a region form a technological infrastructure which promotes knowledge transfer, facilitates problem solving and reduces the risks and the cost of innovation. Once in place, the technological infrastructure creates a capacity for innovation.

Reference list

Amin, A., & Cohendet, P. (2005). Geographies of knowledge formation in firms, Industr and Innovation. , New York. Prentice-Hall.

Bathelt, H., Malmberg, A., & Maskell, P. (2004).Clusters and knowledge: local buzz, global pipelines and the process of knowledge creation, Progress in Human Geography. New York. Prentice-Hall.

Bunnell, G., & Coe, N. (2001). Spaces and scales of innovation, Progress in Human Geography. Cambridge. Cambridge university press.

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Coe, N., & Bunnell, T.G. (2003). ‘Spatialising’ knowledge communities: towards a conceptualisation of transnational innovation networks, Global Network. Routledge. London.

Cooke, P. (2001). Regional innovation systems, clusters, and the knowledge economy, Industrial and Corporate Change. Chicago. SAGE.

Currah, A., & Wrigley, N. (2004). Networks of organizational learning and adaptation in retail TNCs, Global Networks. New York. Cengage.

Feldman, M., Francis, J., & Bercovitz, J. (2005). Creating a cluster while building a firm: entrepreneurs and the formation of industrial clusters. New York. Cengage.

Maskell, P., Bathelt, H., & Malmberg, A. (2006). Building global knowledge pipelines: the role of temporary clusters, European Planning Studies. Chicago. SAGE.

Morgan, K. (1997). The learning region: institutions, innovation and regional renewal, Regional Studies. Routledge. London.

Patel, P. and Pavitt, K. (1994). National innovation systems: why they are important, and how they might be measured and compared, Economics of Innovation and New Technology. Cambridge. Cambridge university press.

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