Industrial clusters and the evolution of their knowledge networks: revisiting a Chilean case
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Scholars of industrial clusters and networks have recently called for more research on network's chance over time. This paper contributes a further step along that path. It uses micro-level data based on the execution of a pair of identical studies in the main wine cluster in Chile in 2002 and 2006. Through the collection of social network data, it explores the role of a set of mechanisms of social interaction to explain the change in the cluster knowledge network. Two particular findings are important. First, in line with other network studies, we find that well-known micro-level mechanisms of social interaction, such as homophily, reciprocity and transitivity, do influence the formation of new knowledge linkages among cluster firms. Second, however, we find that these mechanisms seem not to work when firms have weak knowledge bases, as firms with a level of knowledge bases below a minimum threshold persist being completely cast out of the cluster knowledge network, in some cases even exiting the cluster. A more general finding of this study is the coexistence of a significant instability at the micro-level with meso-level stability in the structural properties of the intra-cluster knowledge network, in line with the idea of retention put forward by evolutionary economists to explain the path dependent nature of economic systems. Possible reasons for this and implications for further research are discussed.