Whilst personal knowledge networks between organizations have been argued to be important for regional economic development, their functioning and, within this context, the exact role of spatial proximity has been empirically underexplored. This paper addresses these issues by, first, examining the dynamic mechanisms of the formation, maintenance, and knowledge interaction of important knowledge relationships of R&D workers in the Cambridge information technology cluster in the UK. It is demonstrated that personal relations tended to transform from an initially professional context into privately governed relationships. Furthermore, it is argued that a sophisticated understanding of the role of spatial proximity requires an investigation of the spatiality of several stages of the network mechanisms. The results show that permanent spatial proximity and face-to-face interaction are more important for the formation of relationships than for the maintenance stage and, in particular, for work-related knowledge interactions. Finally, it is argued that, in contrast to the emphasis in much of the literature on communities of practice and epistemic communities, the knowledge relationships do not tend to be anchored in collective groups. Instead, the paper highlights the usefulness of the concept of individualized networks.
Research Professor. Director at Learning Change Project – Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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