By the late 1990s, learning became a key notion in explaining successful regional economic development outcomes. One of the key (implicit or explicit) assumptions in these explanations tends to be that regional - i.e., proximate - relations are most conducive for collective interactive learning. In consequence, accounting for the significance of spatial proximity appears to be at the heart of explaining learning and the creation of competitiveness at the level of regions as well as the firms that they host. A general claim about the role of proximity in learning seems too vague, however. This paper suggests that the significance of proximate relations for learning needs to be unveiled in the case of the various activities carried out in firms. Firms are depicted as utilising activity-specific resources in carrying out their various functions. While other factors obviously also influence processes of learning - such as sector, product and market strategies, type of organization, etc. - this paper puts its main focus on elaborating on the significance of understanding various organizational activities. It aims at pointing out that learning is likely to take place in all of them, regardless of whether proximate or more distant relations are involved. This is believed to provide one step further in an attempt to understand the difference that space makes in organizational learning.

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GeoJournal: an international journal on human geography and environmental sciences
Erasmus School of Economics

Oinas, P. (1999). Activity-specificity in organizational learning: Implications for analysing the role of proximity. GeoJournal: an international journal on human geography and environmental sciences, 49(4), 363–372. doi:10.1023/A:1007184012189