Types of Innovation, Competencies of Firms, and External Knowledge Sourcing-Findings from Selected Sectors and Regions of Europe

Franz Tödtling, Markus Grillitsch

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


Many innovation studies have focused on a narrow concept of technological innovation, such as the generation of patents or the introduction of new products. The performance of firms, however, often depends on innovation defined from a broader perspective. This includes process, organizational, and market innovations as was pointed out already by Schumpeter and more recently by other scholars and the OECD. Still underexplored, however, are the questions on what kinds of knowledge sources such different types of innovations rely and which spatial levels (regional, national, and international) are most relevant for acquiring knowledge. Also, sector and regional contexts are argued to matter for knowledge sourcing and innovation. Drawing on the concepts of knowledge bases and innovation systems, we investigate these relationships by analyzing evidence from seven European countries regarding patterns of knowledge sourcing and their relation to innovation. Based on a multivariate model, we are able to show that product, process, strategic, and organizational innovations rely on partly similar, partly different types, and sources of knowledge reaching from regional to global levels. We also found evidence that sector contexts and the institutional characteristics of regions and countries matter.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)330-356
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of the Knowledge Economy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank the teams of the European Collaborative Research Project “Constructing Regional Advantage” (CRA 2007–2011) supported by the European Science Foundation (ESF) and the respective national Science Funds for contributing to this collective project and to the joint data base, and for allowing us the use of the data. We would like to thank also Thomas Brökel and Christoph Höglinger for setting up this data base.

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 502047 Economic theory
  • 502014 Innovation research
  • 507016 Regional economy
  • 509


  • Firm competencies
  • Geography
  • Innovation
  • Knowledge bases
  • Knowledge sources

Cite this