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An investigation of the learning dynamics involved within the creative industries sector in the Newcastle City Region

Lookup NU author(s): Cheryl Conway, Professor Stuart Dawley, Professor David Charles


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Current economic development theory on knowledge and territorial competitiveness stresses the interaction between access to global sources of knowledge and localised knowledge arising from the concentration of sectorally or cluster specific tacit knowledge. Such local knowledge is developed and shared within a socialised process involving groups of knowledgeable workers learning-by-doing, moving between firms, and learning through firm-to-firm interactions (Lundvall, 1992). This paper analyses the learning dynamics involved in the recent growth of the creative industries sector within the Newcastle City Region. This sector is particularly interesting since its growth has not been stimulated by any formal overarching cluster policy, indeed the companies involved within the empirical study have suggested that the growth has occurred in spite any intervention. The paper outlines a number of initiatives and strategies which have prompted collaboration and the key role of ‘facilitator’ organisations in providing opportunities for businesses to come together in formal ways, these organisations have been cited as ‘instrumental in developing relationships and enabling knowledge transfer between companies’. These organisations include the North East Publicity Association, Service Network, Project North East and some specialist networks such as Codeworks and the Institute of Marketing. However, the research also suggests that dynamics exist which illustrate that vital forms of learning also develop out with attempts to foster collaboration on a formal basis. A key finding is the extent to which the sector is based around informal social and professional relationships, both in terms of generating business and accessing and transferring knowledge. Informal socio-professional contacts brought about by ‘word of mouth’ and ‘familiarity’ appear to play an important role in the exchange of ideas and the fostering of collaborations. Personal relationships developed through collaborative working, contractor-client relations and social events appear to act as conduit through which channels of exchange and information are passed. Due to the importance of informal relations and personal relationships it would appear that a significant proportion of ‘knowledge’ in terms of markets, who works with whom, is in many ways tacit. This partly reflects the movements of personnel between firms and the ways in which individuals spin-out of larger companies often taking clients with them.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Conway CD, Dawley S, Charles DR

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: Regional Studies Association Annual Conference; Gateway 3a Enabling Knowledge Strategies: CRITICAL Theme, Regional Growth Agendas

Year of Conference: 2005

Publisher: Regional Studies Association