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Tipologías de regions en la Unión Europea y otros estudios

José Luis Luzón Benedicto (ed.) ISBN 978-84-475-3716-7 ed. Universitat de Barcelona,
Barcelona, Espanha (2013) / Páginas. 249 – 276

ANALYSIS OF KNOWLEDGE FLOWS IN REGIONAL INNOVATION SYSTEMS –

its importance in the context of global competitiveness

Silvestre Labiak Jr.1; Fernando Álvaro Ostuni Gauthier2; Neri dos Santos2
1
Universidade Tecnológica Federal do Paraná – UTFPR / DAMEC
2
Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, UFSC, Brasil
Programa de Pós-Graduação em Engenharia e Gestão do Conhecimento, UFSC

INTRODUCTION

Taking the countless social, technological and cultural transformations that are occurring
due to the era of knowledge (LASTRES and CASSIOLATO, 2003) into consideration, it is
important to understand the conception of new paradigms of relationships and cooperation that
must be developed in this century, where worldwide connected networks are being structured
from the premise of the existence of trust among the researchers involved. Analysing the
probability of there being face to face (STORPER, 2010) contact between the parties involved
in the local or regional parties - due to physical, cultural or educational proximity, this contact
can foster a synergy that increases the mutual sharing of knowledge, generating a knowledge
flow among the networks' participants.
Some regions of the world have noticed that this proximity can generate added value
through increased sharing of knowledge and the consequent induction of innovative processes
that creates regional competitiveness. Therefore, they organized into a Regional Innovation
System RIS1, (COOKE, 1992; LUNDVALL, 1992; ASHEIM and COOKE 1997; ASHEIM and
COENEN, 2006). Knowing, structuring and mapping these flows of tacit and explicit
knowledge thus becomes an indispensable task in the stimulation of development of innovative
regions.
Considering that the flows of knowledge (NONAKA and TAKEUCHI, 1997, ZHUGE,
2006, NISSEN, 2006, HUANG et al., 2007) in a RIS occur among the Actors 2 present in this
system, in function of their Knowledge Assets 3 (CHAPPLE and LESTER, 2007; FAGGIAN
and MCCANNY, 2006), one considers that these actors can structure themselves in a network
with the objective of intensifying innovation and regional competitiveness (GERTLER, 2003).
In this chapter the knowledge flow is considered one of the central elements in the
development of an innovative region (PORTER, 1990; SIMMIE, 2005; BOEKEMA et al. 2000)
where the importance of regional actors such as: Business, Public, Scientific and Technological,
Institutional, Innovation and Development Habitats with their respective knowledge assets,
entrepreneurial predisposition, innovative capacity and the same embedded culture
(DOLOREUX and PARTO, 2005), however, if there is no knowledge flow between these
actors, innovation may increase only a little.
Complementing this theoretical line, authors Dvir and Pasher (2004), and Storper (2010),
consider that trust and synergy are fundamental elements in this knowledge flow and in the

1
In this case, the Regional Innovation System - RIS, is considered an innovation habitat when it possesses physical and
structural organization, being a tangible environment. The RIS will be considered a public policy action when it has an intangible
2
Actors can be: Scientific Knowledge Actors: Public Actors, Productive Actors, Institutional Actors and Fostering Actors.
3 Knowledge Assets: the knowledge capital present in a region. These can be tangible and intangible assets, such as
accounting theory and as described in Chapple and Lester's article, 2007.
regional innovation process, and can de propelled by the construction of the bases identified in
the urban innovation engines, which must be contextualized in the RISs. (Dvir and Pasher,
2004)
Considering these determinants and the possible regional resistance in relation to the
relationships and the sharing of knowledge, it becomes important to analyse the existence of a
funnel in the knowledge flow among actors, as well as the strategies that can be used for its
possible opening, like the application of Engineering and Knowledge Management - EKM,
Knowledge Management - KM, Information and Communication Technology - ICT, and
Innovation Engines - IE, in a systemic and interdisciplinary manner (CLARK et al., 2010;
CHAPPLE and LESTER, 2007), allied to the RIS internal policies.
This chapter presents a conceptual review of RIS and knowledge flow, in addition to a
method for the analysis of the knowledge flow in RIS, based in quantitative and qualitative
analyses. This method was applied in a practical case with quite consistent results, but the
discussion of its application is not part of the scope of this chapter.

REGIONAL INNOVATION SYSTEM:

The Regional Innovation Systems - RIS - expect to work with regional development
policies, based on the creation of networks formed by universities, research centres,
governmental and non-governmental organizations that support innovation and innovative
business. When there is a physical and organizational structure, they form innovation habitats,
for they are elements tangible to the innovative entrepreneurial ecosystem.
According to Cooke (1992), the concept of a Regional Innovation System determines a
series of regional policies that leverage innovation and economic and social competitiveness.
This concept is a consequence of the national innovation systems (LUNDVALL, 1992). In the
early 1990s globalization accelerated the creation of knowledge-based regional networks, which
triggered the movement for integration based on regional innovation (ASHEIM and COOKE,
1997, ASHEIM and COENEN, 2006; MULLER et al, 2008; COOKE, 2008).
The conditions for the implementation of a RIS are different around the world (COOKE,
2008; BUESA et al., 2004), and this has generated a series of definitions and confusions
regarding the RISs, making a single understanding and universal taxonomy difficult. However,
in all definitions of the theme it is clear that they must regions with well-defined policies for the
generation and sharing of knowledge (NONAKA and TAKEUSHI, 1997). There must also be a
clear definition of the actions and interactions in the various levels and each actor’s scales in
the knowledge flow (ZHUGE, 2006; HUANG et al., 2007) in order for the regional innovation
process to exist. (DOLOREUX and PARTO, 2005; DOLOREUX, 2009)
In a panorama where the national innovation systems, defined by the Organisation for
Economic Cooperation and Development - OECD - have macro character and dimensions, there
is high complexity in the application of these policies in regional environments. Thus, the RISs
try to concentrate efforts in the creation of policies and structures based in a geographically
localized culture of encouragement to innovation, where the local culture and knowledge
present in organization and in society often is the RSI's core.
An important observation must be made regarding RISs - the structuring and conception
must take the regional conditions into account, in relation to the actors who are present, the
entrepreneurial characteristics and the local culture of innovation, which are different in all the
regions of the world (COOKE, 2008 and BUESA et al., 2004).

Regional Actors

The identification of the actors who form a Regional Innovation System is essential. The
six groups of actors below form the "triple helix + 3 " or the Sixfold Helix:
i. Scientific Knowledge Actors: Universities, Faculties, Research Institutes,
Technical Colleges; aimed at generating and socializing knowledge.
ii. Public Actors: Municipal, state and national Innovation Secretariats, Legislation
to foster innovation: essential in the elaboration of policies to support innovation.
iii. Habitat Innovation Actors: Company pre-incubators and incubators, scientific
and technological parks, RIS: essential structures in the generation of innovative
business.
iv. Business Actors: Product and service industries and companies: the actors who
expose the innovations in the existing market or generate new innovations.
v. Institutional Actors: Serviço Brasileiro de Apoio a Micro and Pequenas
Empresas [Brazilian Support Service to Micro and Small Enterprises] - SEBRAE,
Federação das Industrias do Paraná [Paraná Industry Federation] -FIEP Agência
de Desenvolvimento Regional [Regional Development Agency] - ADR,
Commercial and Industrial Associations, Unions: essential in the development of
links among the RIS actors.
vi. Funding Actors: Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento [National Development
Bank] - BNDES, Financiadora de Estudos e Projetos [Research and Projects
Financing] - FINEP, Fundação Araucária [Araucária Foundation], Agência de
Fomento do Paraná [Paraná Development Agency] AFP, Enterprise Capital
Companies: collaborate in the innovative process, sharing risks and supporting
the development of innovation.

In the analysis of the knowledge flow in a RIS, the pertinent issues are the knowledge
potential of the regional actors, their availability and will to share their knowledge and their
motivation in learning. These issues are exploited with the application of the knowledge flow
analysis method (HUANG et al., 2007; ZUGHE, 2006 and BEVILACQUA et.al., 2005).
Although there are not many palpable indicators to prove the efficacy of the RIS
(MULLER et al., 2008), there is "empirical evidence" that the close relations between the actors
of a regional system contribute towards the increased competitive and innovative capacity of the
companies that belong to the RIS (HERVAS-OLIVER et al., 2008, COOKE, 2008).
The conception of RIS adopted, which is part of the construction framework of networks
among regional actors proposed by Asheim and Cooke (1997), predicts:
• the existence of a capacity for the development of the human capital, interactions
between companies, schools, universities, training institutions;
• formal and informal networks among the network members, made possible by
planned or casual meetings, information and knowledge exchange, currently promoted
by interaction forums.
• synergies, which can result from a shared culture or political perspectives resulting
from the occupation of the same economic space or region;
• the existence of strategic management in areas such as education, innovation and
business support.

These foundations show the presence of a "systemic dimension" (MENZEL and


FORNAHL, 2009; COOKE, 2008) that has an embedded relationship (SIMMIE, 2005) in the
RIS, which derives from the associative character of the innovation networks that are present.
These systemic relations have a certain degree of interdependence and do not have to be
contained regionally, so they give origin to an interactive "modus operandi" of increased
innovation in the region. The stratification of tacit knowledge (POLANYI, 2009) can thus occur
more naturally among the actors due to the composition of face to face interactions in the RIS
(STORPER and VENABLES, 2003) which are benefited by a process of cooperation and trust
relationships (GRAF, 2010), and by the embedded knowledge of the social actors who are
present (ASHEIN and COENEM, 2006; SIMMIE, 2005) with the aim of generating an
innovation network such as the one shown in Figure 6.
Public and
Private
Centres for Laboratories
Technology
-Cience Parks Transfer
-Technology
Networks Universities -Qualification centres
- Consultant -Laboratories
Catalogues -Incubators
Clusters
Companies or
Individuals in vertical
and horizontal

Innovation Semantic-based
- Banks; -Patents;
Financing Technological
-Venture capital; - Good Practices;
Structures Information System
- Regional - Publications;
Incentives - Norms and Procedures;
- Development Non-Governmental - Videos;
Agencies Innovation - Testimonies
Funding Innstitutions

FIGURE 1 INTERACTIONS PRESENT IN A RIS


Source: Adapted from LABIAK JUNIOR and GAUTHIER, 2010.

RIS governance focused in regional conditions makes the system more agile and better
connected to the developments of the innovation market. In autonomous regions (e.g. the
Basque Country - Spain), there is the necessary agility and autonomy to structure far-reaching
regional policies that are interesting to the RIS actors. (BUESA et.al, 2004)
Finally, a point highlighted by Cooke is that in the evolution of the RIS it has been
noticed that public intervention, through innovation support policies, has been fundamental in
many cases. However, in most Silicon Valley RIS the growth dynamics has been oriented by the
market, with deep interactions between intensive knowledge companies and venture capital.
Thus, the innovative companies’ network has been set as a new category of RIS (COOKE,
2008)
In conclusion, it can be said that the RIS is an interaction network among public and
private institutions and governmental and non-governmental organizations that work in the
generation, explanation, use and dissemination of knowledge, as shown in Figure 1. The
compound effect of these actors has the purpose of systemically encouraging the companies in
the region to innovate, developing capital gains that derive from the existing social
relationships, generating innovation support policies, creating value and interactions, and
respecting the characteristics of the actors and the region where it is being formed.

KNOWLEDGE FLOW IN RIS

To Böhme and Stehr (1986), the product of knowledge society's own action is what
distinguishes it from other societies.
The importance of knowledge in the contemporaneous world has usually been associated
to the development of innovation and competitiveness, allied with engineering knowledge
methodologies, which has generated economy, agility and reliability.
Regional environments geared towards innovation, such as scientific and technological
parks, local productive arrangements and regional innovation systems, have been habitats that
allow for the greater generation, transformation, distribution and socialization of knowledge as
tangible and intangible transformations (SCHIUMA and LERRO, 2008; PETRUZZELLI et. al,
2007). However, authors like David Doloreux et al, 2009; Franz Todtling and Michaela Trippl,
2005, argue that ideal conditions for the knowledge flow between actors in a RIS do not always
exist. The existence of barriers in these habitats, sometimes characterized by the actors' small
capacity of sharing knowledge (lack of knowledge energy4), by the fragmentation of RISs
present in a metropolitan area, or by the fact that the companies belonging to the RIS have a
traditional production basis which makes the understanding of the importance of sharing
knowledge difficult, reduces the effectiveness of these habitats in the real development of
innovation.
Cooke, 2008; Asheim and Coenen, 2006, Hamdouch and Moulaert, 2006, consider that
these habitats can strengthen the connections among the regional actors, stimulating
entrepreneurial developments and the sharing of knowledge.
Although the knowledge engineering methodologies (SCHEREIBER, et.al, 2002) play a
fundamental role in the acceleration of these flows of knowledge, (NONAKA and TAKEUCHI,
1997), the current scenario has been characterized by the importance of the territorial dimension
(SCHIUMA and LERRO, 2008). Here the proximity of assets has created synergistic
environments that are adequate for the additional trust between the local actors that results in a
greater flow of tacit knowledge, "what we know is more than we can say or describe"
(POLANYI, 2009). In the context of this analysis the location and the territory play an
important role in communicating the generation and dissemination of knowledge (NONAKA
and TAKEUCHI 1997), where the regional actors may become knots in an internal and external
communicative network (ZHUGE, 2006).
Thus, Lastres and Cassiolato (2003) consider that in a local and regional innovation
system both the geographical proximity of actors and the historical, social and cultural identity
help the flow of knowledge, particularly in the tacit dimension, and potentiate regional
competitive advantages, with the aim of competing in a globalized world where innovative
regionalisation becomes fundamental in adding value and in consolidating the competitive
differentials (CAREL, 2005).

Knowledge Management

According to Davenport and Prusak – 1998, knowledge management goes through


conceptualising a certain knowledge, information and data hierarchy. Knowledge is built from
this information, formed by data or metadata with context, and in this construction knowledge
allows us to act. Thus, knowledge management - KM - is needed to organize the flows of
knowledge in a certain structure.
Although almost all the literature related to KM refers to the structuring of internal
knowledge in organizations and companies, these concepts shall be applied in a "more
collective approach for knowledge" here, where knowledge is understood as an "activity based
on complex processes" among the individual groups and in a network.
Consequently, for KM to occur it is essential to create organizational structures with
defined functions at all levels, from the high management staff, knowledge developers to the
operational staff, establishing performance parameters and indicators (WIIG 1997).
The identification of the knowledge map is an important intrinsic approach to KM and
must be considered in a RIS, for the map shows the path to knowledge in the system, identifying
the existing competencies or those related to each organization. (DAVENPORT and PRUSAK -
1998)
Taking SRI as a systemic model of "ba" (Nonaka and Kono, 1998) that can be used as a
metaphor to articulate individual and collective knowledge (HANSSON, 2007), Nonaka et al.,
2000 make reference to the development of "ba" in a sphere of innovation systems, to generate
and share knowledge between the government, business and universities. The junction of this
human capital, where actors focus on the regional development based on knowledge and
innovation, strengthens this atmosphere (NONAKA and KONNO, 1998; NONAKA, et
al.,2008) which is often already present in the innovation habitats. Figure 2 shows the
integration of these actors in the formation of a systemic "ba".

4
In this case, knowledge energy is how ZHUGE, 2006, classifies the stock of learning and the existing relations between
the actors in a system.
FIGURE 2 – REPRESENTATION OF THE FOUR TYPES OF BA.
Source: NONAKA et al.( 2000)

With the objective of characterizing Knowledge Management in the RIS context, it is


important to establish that it creates a sustainable competitive advantage, almost unique in the
region where it is experienced, for it will be rooted in the people in a regional culture
environment, not in physical resources or tax incentives that can be imitated (SILVA, 2004).
It can be said that what is intended in a regional innovation system is the concreteness of
the spiral of knowledge (Nonaka and Taleushi, 1997), collectively extrapolating a company's
individual and internal limitations to the entire system, thus achieving one of the principles of
KM and of innovation habitats: the transfer of knowledge (WIIG, 1997).

Knowledge flow

The knowledge flow may be understood as the transfer of knowledge between knowledge
assets (present in the regional actors) through rules, principles and meaning. The flow must
start and end in a knowledge asset, completing the cycle of socialization of knowledge and
potentiating the emergence of innovations in a Regional Innovation System.
The actors who belong to a RIS must generate, learn, process, understand, summarise and
socialise knowledge in the same manner as the spiral proposed by Nonaka and Tackeuchi 1997.
According to Zhuge, 2006, a knowledge flow has three fundamental attributes: direction,
content, and a bearer, and knowledge must flow normally through the means of
communication. In this century, computer tools are the protagonists of the flow of explicit
knowledge, while other support forms must be established for tacit knowledge.
In terms of dynamic knowledge, Nissen 2006 considers knowledge flow as the flow that
works in an activity of knowledge conversion, transfer, sharing, integration, reuse, movement
and application of this knowledge to a certain time scale,.
For the flow of tacit knowledge to occur, there must be a synergistic environment with
mutual trust, where cooperative work prevails. The connectivities and interactions will be
proportional to the energy 5 capable of conducting knowledge, and this energy reflects the
cognitive capacity (ZHUGE, 2002) of each one of the knowledge assets present in the RIS.
To structure knowledge management based on the existing flows of knowledge, it is
important for this management to be supported by tools that make the extraction, capture,
discovery, filtering and storage of knowledge possible. In this context, knowledge engineering
tools become fundamental elements to expand the outflows of knowledge and prioritize which
high energy knowledge elements will be diffused to lower energy elements (as in the
transmission system of water at higher pressure to regions at lower pressure) where the
knowledge energy of a knowledge asset is proportional to the approximate number of its
outflows (ZHUGE, 2006).
5
To Zhuge, 2002, energy is related to the number of connections of knowledge outflow inherent to the knowledge asset;
the greater the number of connections, the higher its energy level.
The structuring of the knowledge flow in a RIS depends on a plan of the knowledge
contact areas, as if they were knots in a net, prioritizing the minimization of unnecessary flows
(ZHUGE, 2002) and strategically defining the logistic efficiency of these flows.
The logistic elements in the era of knowledge appropriate for a greater outflow can be
those that expand communication through knowledge assets, such as: databases, knowledge
search engines, work flows, ontologies, methodologies such as CommonKADS, and emails,
among others (FIKES and McGUINNESS,2001);(ZHUGE, 2006);(DVIR and PASHER, 2004).
It is important that the communication structure between knowledge assets occurs with the least
possible effort.
The logistic structuring of these flows is not simple. It is understood that this is intensive
work that requires specialists, for the definition of a flow for these innovation habitats demands
adequate tools as well as an understanding of the direction, meaning, intensity and priority of
the flows of knowledge existing between the actors who are present. The prioritization of the
flows is necessary to maximize the outflow of knowledge without turbulence between
transmitted data.

Knowledge Flow in a RIS

The guiding principles in a RIS propose making a region with an innovative differential
competitive in both the regional and the global scopes. For this to occur it is necessary to
understand that knowledge is the key to this sustainable competitive advantage 6 (COLE,
1998);(GRANT, 1996);(SPENDER,1996).
In this context, the actors belonging to the RIS, like those represented in Figure 3, must
interact their knowledge through their contact areas, using computer tools that make the sharing
of explicit knowledge easier. For a competitive leap to occur, it is essential that the actors be
"aboard" a joint culture, which can offer them the sharing and socialization of tacit knowledge.
(NISSEN, 2007).
- Universities;
Scientific
- Faculties;
Knowledge
- Research Institutes;
Actor
- Technical Colleges

Public Actor
Funding
-City councils Actor - Venture Capital;
- Municipal secretariats - Credit Guarantee;
- State secretariats; Busines - Development Agencies;
- Ministries s Actor - Banks;
- All spheres of the - Investment Funds
Legislative

- Pre-incubator; Innovation - SEBRAE;


Institutional Actor
- Incubator; Habitat - Industry Federation;
- Technological Park Actor - ADR;
- Institutes;
- Associations

FIGURE 3 - Referential Model of Knowledge Flow in RIS.


Source: Labiak Junior, 2012.

We can say that there are eleven modern "urban innovation engines" (Dvir and Pasher,
2004), which, if introduced into an SRI can leverage the areas of contact between the regional
players, providing an increase in knowledge flows and thus fostering a competitiveness and
innovation, with the generation of a "ba" in this region. These "urban innovation engines" are:

• Cafés and sites of tacit knowledge exchange;


6
The term sustainable refers to the principles developed by Ignacy Sachs, 1993: environmental, economic, cultural, social
and spatial sustainability.
• Scientific and Cultural Events - large urban events, scientific and cultural fairs, like the
Paris World Fair in 1900 or the 2004 Universal Forum of Cultures in Barcelona;
• Libraries: as a space for the interactive and proactive socialization of knowledge.
• Portals: Virtual portals, ports, airports, train or bus stations, which play a fundamental role
in the dissemination of knowledge and of free knowledge flow, and should mirror the
region's innovative pride;
• Museums: interactive museums such as the Football Museum and the Museu da Língua
Portuguesa, in São Paulo, which act as learning tools and do not exist for contemplation
only;
• Observatories of future scenarios and like prospective study environments;
• Universities: open to society and integrated with the urban context, part of social reality -
making their IT elements, laboratory, libraries, theatres, sports venues and other elements
popular like a city park or square;
• Stakeholders: banks., developing and financing agents, venture capitalists - integrated to
the innovative context in the city network;
• Scientific and Technological Parks: geared toward the knowledge industry - synergistic
environments focused on innovation, places where the knowledge flow is intense, but has
an area of contact with all the region's actors;
• Revitalization of abandoned industrial areas: transformed in cultural, scientific and
university areas, they lead to the integration and interaction through flows of knowledge
among the residents and the knowledge assets;
• Digital Infrastructure: the analysis of the per capita distribution of computers in a society
and the percentage of the population that is connected should be done, for ICTs are being
applied in primary and secondary education. Also important is the structuring of the
integration of virtual and physical environments, which may even lead to a "virtual ba".

The importance of these “innovation urban engines” might be in the greater contact and
synergy they can provoke. However, the quality of the information must be carefully observed,
in order not to generate a store of information that may create a natural barrier for knowledge,
reducing the outflow of this knowledge in the system. (DVIR and PASHER,2004)
Smaller distances create a kind of collective knowledge, which is not necessarily well
distributed; this knowledge is not the sum of every individual's or organization's knowledge,
rather, it results from a synergy and a systemic structure (Albagli and Maciel, 2004). For this
collective knowledge to be effective it is important that the flows and the energies be mapped
and organized.
The reduction of the distance between the actors is crucial for an improved knowledge
flow, since this will naturally improve communication. As communication is inversely
proportional to the distance between the actors, the greater the distance, the smaller the flows of
knowledge, (Allen 1973, 1988). In order to understand what distance is in the context of
knowledge flow, Huang et. al 2007, define distance in four aspects: Geographical distance;
Cultural distance (languages and values); Technological distance (technological level), and
Social distance (social status and the strength of power).
According to Zhuge 2006, some principles must be considered to verify if the knowledge
flow model is being adequately applied:

• Flow efficacy: analyses whether the correct knowledge is being passed among the
interested actors, and whether this knowledge is being correctly stored, even when the
transmission of energy is between an actor with high amounts of energy to one with less
intensity;
• Task relevance: the composition of the knowledge actors present should be essential in
the fulfilment of the RIS mission;
• Mutual benefit: all the actors participating in a RIS should acquire knowledge by
sharing; otherwise, the flow can be interrupted in the medium and long terms;
• Minimum coverage: the flow must occur exactly where it is needed, with no redundant
flows between actors, or between actors who do not need to participate in this flow;
• Trust: efficient cooperation requires that the actors present in the RIS trust one another
in order for mutual encouragement to occur and knowledge to be shared.

In a Regional Innovation System, knowing the flows of knowledge and the elements that
have the greatest distribution energy becomes a priority for the development of a model that
aids in the outflow of knowledge. Therefore, considering that a RIS may become a network of
flows of knowledge is something that helps the development of the knowledge flow model for
this innovation habitat.
The knowledge flow management model assumes the existence of a certain level of
cooperation among the actors who belong to the system. Thus, the higher the level of
knowledge and trust an actor has on the system, the more it can be considered hierarchically
fundamental in the knowledge flow map, or, in theory, a well-structured ICT that holds
knowledge at various levels can play a central role in the distribution of flows of knowledge in a
RIS, because its energy will probably be high. The perception of sharing knowledge in the
system may differ in relation to the connections among the actors in the system.
The structuring of a method for the analysis of flows of knowledge in a RIS can be a
propelling element to support the addition of knowledge sharing among the actors who belong
to the system, because it increases their level of trust thereby improving the flows of knowledge.

KNOWLEDGE FLOW ANALYSIS METHOD IN RIS

The development of the knowledge flow analysis method for regional innovation systems
sets quantitative and qualitative characteristics in relation to the analysed flows and is structured
by the combination of the Huang et al., 2007, mathematical model (adapted) with the analysis of
perceived knowledge flow (PKF)
HUANG's model, originally conceived to determine knowledge flows for practice
communities, was adapted here to the reality of a RIS, which is different in relation to the
distance between the actors and the hierarchical relations involved in the sharing of knowledge.
The PKF analysis verifies the perception (DILWORTH, 2005) of actors in relation to the
existence of knowledge flow in the RIS actors' network, where the knowledge that is shared and
received by the system actors is analysed.

HUANG's model adapted to Knowledge Flow Analysis in a RIS

The application of HUANG's adapted mathematical model aims at identifying and


characterizing the following elements: (M) learning Motivation, (W) Will to share knowledge,
(D) Distance between the actors, (K) Knowledge held by each actor in relation to the theme,
resulting in (F) knowledge Flow among the actors analysed. These elements must be analysed
for each actor in the system and compared in a matrix that will result in the system's quantitative
flows.

Source: HUANG et al., 2007

The application of HUANG's adapted model is accomplished by following the four


steps below:
• first step - K evaluation - initial knowledge coefficient;
• second step - determination of the will to share knowledge coefficient (W);
• third step - determination of the motivation to learn coefficient (M);
• fourth step - determination of the coefficient relative to the distance between
the system actors.

The central cluster knowledge, which is background reference to the RIS must be used to
apply the method, for one must focus on specific knowledge in order to map and analyse its
flow within the RIS context. Figure 4 shows the adapted Huang model in simple manner.

FIGURA 1 - Example of the use of the adapted Huang model


Initial knowledge evaluation (initial K)

According to Huang et al., 2007 the determination of initial K is the sum of the indexes
related to the composition of initial knowledge, obtained through a self-assessment process of
the actor investigated, and can reach a maximum score of 30 points. This value is constructed
through the analysis of the background (related to the technical knowledge analysed) applied to
all questions.

Step 1 - Determination of initial knowledge (K) of the investigated actor: determined through
six blocks of questions that analyse the actor's background. The questions aim at establishing a
rationale on the theme, with the closure question supported by a data crossing system that sets
the index value for each analysed question.
The first question in this sequence aims at establishing a parameter in relation to
knowledge on sources of innovation development.
The second question aims at setting a parameter in relation to the knowledge of
innovation support laws, identifying each actor's level regarding this knowledge.
The third question aims at setting a parameter in relation to the knowledge of the
product development process, identifying each actor's level regarding this knowledge.
The fourth question aims at setting a parameter in relation to the intrinsic knowledge of
the analysed cluster (e.g. CIT cluster), identifying each actor's level regarding this knowledge.
The fifth question aims at setting a parameter in relation to the intrinsic knowledge of
the analysed cluster’s current market, identifying each actor's level regarding this knowledge.
and composing the theme background.
The sixth and last block of questions related to the development of initial knowledge
aims at setting a parameter in relation to the knowledge of the administrative management
used by the actor, identifying each actor's level regarding this knowledge.

Evaluation of the Will to Share Knowledge (W)

Step 2 - Determination of the Will to Share Knowledge. The determination of the coefficients
related to the will to share knowledge (W) with the other RIS actors, adapted from Huang et al.,
2007, presupposes a culture of social interaction where the exchange of knowledge takes place
(LIN, 2007). This method adopts indexes that range from 1 to 10 and follow a Likert scale.
This value's composition is related to the will to share knowledge with the other RIS actors and
is given by the interviewee in a concept closing question that considers the weights of the open-
ended questions. The determination of the will to share knowledge by the analysed actor is done
through a series of questions related to the interaction culture, where certain groups of people
enjoy sharing (LIN, 2007). Motivational factors are essential for this to occur, and this wish to
share is directly related to the trust that exists between the actors involved (IPE, 2003). Ponjuán
Dante (2004) highlights that although knowledge sharing is one of the most important
organizational processes of knowledge, it is related to a cognitive plan which is a great barrier.
The questions used for the construction of W suggest an evolution of the rationale
regarding the theme, formed by open questions in a first moment. These questions make the
interviewee review and assess his concept in relation to the theme, which can trigger an answer
that is better related to the reality found in the organization / institution through the closing
question. The concept closure occurs through a score and weights system distributed along the
six basic questions that analyse the methodologies and tools used in sharing the knowledge with
the other RIS actors, where the final value of (W) can range from 0 to 1.

Evaluation of Learning Motivation (M)

Step 3 - Determination of Learning Motivation Learning motivation (LIN, 2007; IPE, 2003;
LATHI, 2000) displays the actor's commitment to learn with the other RIS actors. The
determination of the coefficient values related to learning motivation (M) were adapted from
Huang at al. 2007, using content analysis (BARDIN, 1992) indexes obtained from closed
question whose answers can range from 1 to 10 in a Likert scale. This value is related to the
value of relative knowledge given to learning motivation, obtained by the correlation of answers
and their weights, resulting in a value that can range from 0 to 1 according to the answers given
by the actor.
The rationale used here is the same rationale used in the first and second steps of the
method. The questions used for the construction of (M)suggest an evolution of rationale
regarding the theme, formed by open questions in a first moment, making the interviewee
review and assess his concept in relation to the theme, which can trigger an answer that is better
related to the reality found in the organization through the closing question. The concept closure
occurs through a score and weights system distributed along the six basic questions that analyse
the means used by the actor in the development of his products, processes or services,
identifying the precepts of creativity and structuring of projects adopted by the actor in relation
to the other RIS actors.

Determination of the coefficient of distance between RIS actors (D)

Step 4 - Determination of the coefficient of distance between RIS actors. The development of
a table of coefficients related to the relative distances of each RIS actor is essential and will
have singular characteristics for each regional system, which will be determined as a function of
the physical distance between the system actors. The reference value for actors who are in the
same city is set as 1.0; for actors in the same RIS region but in different cities, 1.5; in the same
State 2.0, and in different states of the same country, 2.5.
The coefficients given follow the same rationale applied in the analysis of knowledge
flows in practice communities, where intangible factors like the cultural or educational distance
are incorporated and qualified by the physical distance between the RIS actors.

Conclusion of the Huang method adapted to RIS

The application of the adapted Huang method in the determination of Knowledge Flow
coefficients will only consider positive values greater than 1, since negative values would have
a counter-flow meaning, i.e. the actor would not have enough "knowledge stock" to share with
the actor in question.
It is worth highlighting that Huang's methodology adapted to a RIS measures a singular
knowledge flow: the flow of knowledge from Actor A to Actor "n", to which the same
mathematical model is then applied to identify the flow form Actor "n' to Actor "A". Thus the
application of the model to all the system actors creates a number "n" of relationships.
Calculating F using the adapted Huang method shows some characteristics that are
relevant to the RIS system actors and portray the basic conditions for the occurrence of
knowledge flow in the system, such as the identification of the knowledge potential made
available by the actor to be shared by the others. This is a pre-requisite mentioned by Zughe,
2006, who defines knowledge energy as a fundamental element in knowledge flow. In this case,
if the value of Ki is small, it is as if the actor did not have enough energy to share knowledge,
like in a hydraulic system.
The knowledge flow analysis method applied in RIS considers a positive value of F=3 as
the reference for the existence of a positive knowledge flow between the reference actor and the
other analysed actor. However, other interpretation parameters must also be taken into
consideration, such as the negative KF values, which mean that there is no possibility for an
actor with lower initial knowledge coefficient (Ki) to share knowledge (in relation to the
analysed theme) with another actor with higher initial knowledge coefficient (Ki), and thus no
discussions that may form a flow and generate new relative knowledge will occur. For a
positive value of F smaller than 2, a discussion ensues, but the flow is too weak to generate or
increase knowledge. For F values greater than 2 and smaller than 3, a relationship does exist
between the actors and there is good intention to share knowledge, but the K value of the actor
who wants to share knowledge is much lower or too close to the K value of the actor with whom
he wants to share knowledge. Therefore, for K values greater than 3 there is strong flow that
generates knowledge as a consequence of this relationship between the actors.
The application of the model proposed by Huang et al, 2007 makes the establishment of
quantitative values for the relative potential of knowledge flow for each RIS actor possible, and
leads the system actors into a reflection of the relative importance and need for knowledge flow
in the system to promote an innovative region.

Perceived Knowledge Flow Analysis Method - PKF

The development and application of the PKF model has the objective of generating
analysis relative to the actors' perception as to the existence of knowledge flow among them in
the regional innovation system (GIBSON, 1979). For this to occur, the sharing of knowledge
among the RIS actors must be verified.
Analysis of cognitive perception (BAL et al., 2011) has been extensively used in research
applied to medicine. In the present case, the knowledge flow was analysed through the
application of a questionnaire in which the interviewee could express his perception regarding
the sharing and receipt of knowledge, which in turn is related to the exchange of knowledge,
experiences and abilities in a context of social interaction (LIN, 2007) between the RIS actors.
The analysis of perception (BAL et al., 2011) has been used to validate new concepts such as
new didactic methodologies, aggregation of economic indicators, and clinical and psychological
analyses, among others.
PKF is applied in a complex environment, where indirect indicators may indicate internal
and external factors (IPE, 2003) that are considered important for the holistic analysis of the
system. Indicators like patents produced through the knowledge flow between actors, obtention
of support for innovation, structuring of new production methods or techniques, development of
new policies to foster innovation, creation of new human resources training courses oriented to
an innovative regions, and others, can be used to identify the knowledge flows. However, a
holistic and systemic analysis was adopted, through each actor's perception of the knowledge
flows, for it was considered that this is a relatively new theme and the actors would have a
better comprehension of value perceived in relation to the knowledge flows, identifying their
motivation and the relationships that promote knowledge sharing (LIN, 2007; STENMARK,
2001; LATHI, 2000).
In this study the sharing of knowledge may be understood as a process of sharing both tacit
knowledge through analogies, metaphors, models, sharing of ideas, etc. (CHOO, 2003) and
explicit knowledge, in formal and informal practices.
In an analogy with knowledge flows, Davenport and Prusak (2001) consider that the act
of transferring knowledge requires two actions: emission and reception of knowledge (LIN,
2007). The authors note that where communication is essential for sharing this knowledge
(GOULART and ANGELONI, 2009) the flow of knowledge will only exist if shared by an
actor and received by another (LIN, 2007). If this does not occur, what takes place is merely the
availability of knowledge.
The method predicts the application of perception analysis questions to all system
actors, generating a matrix aimed at establishing a cross perception between the actors who
share and receive knowledge. Perception can give the results a broader analysis that can refer to
general evaluations related to the interpersonal abilities and trust between the actors, in a
multidimensional analysis (BAL et al., 2011).
The confirmation of perceived knowledge flows occurred through the interaction of the
answers given by the actors studied, as shown in Figure 5. There must be the perception of
sharing and receiving knowledge between the actors studied in order for the flow to occur
between them.

Actor does not


Actor believes he Actor believes
share knowledge
shares he shares

Actor does not


Actor perceives he has Actor believes he
perceive he has
received knowledge has received
received knowledge
knowledge

PKF generated

FIGURE 5 - PKF Confirmation Analysis

Consolidate Knowledge Flow Analysis - CKF

The closure of the knowledge flows analysis for a RIS occurs with the juxtaposition of
the adapted Huang method and PKF, by the juxtaposition of spreadsheets originated from the
application of the two models. The result is the Consolidated Knowledge Flow - CKF, which
considers quantitative aspects such as the energy of knowledge (Zughe, 2006) and qualitative
aspects such as perception (BAL et al., 2011) of knowledge shared by the RIS actors, as shown
in Figure 6. The result of the knowledge flows is verified through a quantitative-qualitative
analysis model of the knowledge flow between actors in a regional innovation system, closing
an analysis network.
FIGURE 6: Juxtaposition of methods resulting in CKF.

Conclusion regarding the knowledge flow analysis method in RIS

Although the scope of this method does not include the measurement of the efficacy of
the knowledge flow in a RIS, the studies conducted by Haung et.al(2007), and Bevilacqua et.al
(2005), aid in the understanding and structuring of the quantitative-qualitative method
presented, which permits the mapping and identification of knowledge flows in Regional
Innovation Systems.
When the knowledge flow analysis method is applied, one must consider that this process
is a social process modelling activity characterized by interdisciplinarity, which increases the
level of difficulty due to the need to have several researchers of varied fields focusing on the
qualification of the knowledge flow (BEVILACQUA et.al, 2005). During the application of the
method, some factors that can generate a funnel in the knowledge flow must be identified, such
as the one described in the next item.

KNOWLEDGE FLOW FUNNEL IN A RIS

In flow analysis, the existence of factors that can facilitate the flow of knowledge in a RIS
is identified. However, authors like (FLORIDA, 1995, ZUGHE 2006, DVIR and PASHER
2004, HUANG et.al, 2007 and BEVILACQUA et.al, 2005, LABIAK JUNIOR, 2012) consider
that the negative factors are the ones that affect the flow of knowledge the most, and that actions
to minimize the negative effect of such factors must be taken in order to avoid the generation of
a funnel in the flow of knowledge in RIS as shown in Figure 7. The seven most important
negative factors, listed below, should be closely observed (LABIAK JUNIOR, 2012)
• Lack of synergy between the actors: considered the central factor in generating the
knowledge flow funnel by 97% of the actors studied, it interferes significantly in
knowledge flow . (LABIAK JUNIOR,2012);
• Lack of communication: The absence of efficient communication mechanisms between
the system actors is one of the major factor to reduce trust between them;
• Excess Bureaucracy: The bureaucracy necessary for two actors to cooperate is a factor
that interferes in the time needed to develop an innovation and in the development process
of cooperation projects;
• Complex or Non-existent of Public Policies: The absence or complexity of national,
regional or local public policies, with their legal framework, can give rise to insecurity and
complexity in the use of resources that stimulate innovation;
• Diverging Regional Focus: Lack of common objectives between the actors in a RIS has
caused the juxtaposition of action and the lack of direction for the system;
• Response Time: the time needed to effect the sharing of knowledge makes knowledge
flow difficult because the opportunity for innovation goes by without the accomplishment
of sharing knowledge;
• Obsolescence or lack of machinery, equipment and software: Causes lack of
mechanisms to aid in the stocking of knowledge in RIS.
Distance: Presented by several researchers like Huang et al., 2007; Zhuge, 2006; Bevilacqua et
al., 2005, as the fundamental factor for the creation of the funnel in knowledge flow, it was
observed in the study by Labiak Junior, 2012 as an important element in flow generation. This
study proves that knowledge flows have occurred between actors who are physically close.

- Synergy
Factors that - Trust
cause the - Stocking
“bottleneck” capacity
- Receptiveness
- Distance
- Time
Knowledg
Knowledg Knowledge e stock
e stock
Knowledg
Knowled
e asset A ge asset
Bottleneck in
B
knowledge flow

FIGURE 7 - Knowledge Flow Funnel

The analysis of these factors can generate a series of actions that allow for the
minimization of the negative effects in the flow of knowledge, but which must be articulated by
the RIS leadership with a focus on regional development.
Considering that practically all the factors refer to communication between the actors and
their intrinsic trust in the system, the factors: synergy, focus, capacity to absorb and share
knowledge, bureaucracy and response time in the project development contribute for a break in
communication and the consequent creation of bottlenecks in the flow. In some cases these can
be understood as a way of prioritizing actions related to specific projects that have greater
synergy, communication and intrinsic innovation capacity.

CONCLUSIONS

In this chapter the importance of regional innovation systems, which are seen as
innovation and regional development habitats, formed by six groups of actors who relate to each
other in a "triple helix + 3" or “helice Sixfold”, generating a knowledge flow in this network
(LABIAK JUNIOR, 2012).
The application of the knowledge flow analysis method - KF - showed the importance of
identifying factors that can contribute for the generation of a funnel in the flow of knowledge
between the RIS actors, highlighting the innovation urban engines as constructive elements that
can facilitate tacit and explicit KF and reduce the funnel.
The mathematical model presented by Huang et al., 2007, was the basis for the
construction of the knowledge flow analysis model in RIS, applied in a practice community that
does a quantitative analysis. The complementation of the model was deemed necessary because
the RIS is considered a complex, heterogeneous and systemic environment, and thus a
qualitative model for the analysis of flows that takes the relative perceptions of the actors into
consideration - PKF - was developed. The method presented is concluded with the juxtaposition
of the results developed in the models, generating the Consolidated Knowledge Flow - CKF.
It is important to emphasize that the Regional Innovation Systems are networks that are
still little studied in terms of the knowledge flow and need specific policies to stimulate the
regional actor in developing a regional focus based on knowledge sharing that can generate an
innovative and competitive environment to leverage regional growth.
This thesis work tried to establish the concept that regional relations of innovative
character are generated by six main actors (business, scientific and technological knowledge,
public, institutional, innovation habitats and fostering) that form a "six-sided helix" that
complements the triple helix established by Henry Etzkowitz (2009), who includes three actors
(university, industry and government) in charge of the development of these interactions.
During the analysis of knowledge flow in RIS, one must observe that knowledge sharing
is primarily defined by the social relations, which include psychological, trust, beliefs, cultural
and educational aspects that express the behaviour of the society involved.
In a systemic and heterogeneous environment, the challenges of stimulating and
analysing knowledge flow are great, for the perception of institutional / organization stimulus
and gains differ for each actor analysed and the development of a single compensation model
for knowledge sharing is complex.
The application of the method stimulates its reapplication in other innovation habitats
such as technological parks and business incubators, where it can be adapted to analyse the
flows in business complexes, in research centre clusters and in the interpretation of the analyses
generated from its application as a possible identifier and generator of regional priorities.
In conclusion, the proposed mapping of knowledge flows makes it possible to
demonstrate both quantitatively and qualitatively the KFs that exist in regional innovation
systems, and can collaborate in the structuring of concrete actions to systemically stimulate and
integrate the actors in a RIS, focused in the development of innovations based on regional
interactions.

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