Clusters and benchmarks on the dynamics of nanoscience and nanotechnology
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Proximity and localization

Book or journal references : Regional Studies, vol. 39, pp. 47-59 (2005).

Author(s) : Torre , A. and Rallett , A.

Abstract :

The objective of this paper is to pave the way for an analysis of the relations between proximity and localization of activities and people, two notions that are often mistaken for one another. Our method consists in exploiting the semantic wealth of the notion of proximity. We distinguish two types of proximity (geographical and organized) and propose a grid of analysis of the main models of geographic organization of activities by articulating both types of proximity. We then introduce the phenomenon of tension between geographical and organized proximity in order to discuss problems that are often underestimated in spatial economy. First, organized proximity offers powerful mechanisms of long-distance coordination that constitute the foundation of the increasing geographical development of socio-economic interactions. The confusion between information interactions and knowledge exchange, and the constraint of being located in proximity neglects the fact that the collective rules and representations do manage, and at a distance, an increasing part of these interactions. It is then shown that there is a disjunction between the need for geographical proximity and co-localization of actors by introducing professional mobility and temporary geographical proximity. We also emphasize the ability of big organizations to manage the presence in different areas of their units, whereas smaller ones are more constrained by fixed co-localizations, which are only needed for certain phases of their interactions. Finally, we raise the often neglected question of the negative effects of geographical proximity which creates tensions between the actors who use limited support-goods and tends to damage the local relational network. However, these negative effects can be limited by integrating them within organizations or institutions, that is through a re-composed organized proximity enabling one to solve conflicts and launch processes of cooperation or negotiation within ad-hoc mechanisms.

Keywords :

geographical proximity; organised proximity; localization; ubiquity; interactions; organisation ECONOMIC-GEOGRAPHY; KNOWLEDGE SPILLOVERS; TACIT KNOWLEDGE; INNOVATION

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