Juggling with Proximity and Distance: Collaborative Innovation Projects in the Danish Cleantech Industry



Studies increasingly apply a multidimensional proximity framework in the analysis of collaborations between actors. This article explores the influence of collaboration motives on the desired proximity characteristics of partnerships in innovation projects based on 50 interviews with representatives from Danish cleantech firms. How search criteria along proximity dimensions differ depends on the purposes of the collaborations. In this way, the analysis distinguishes between the types of collaboration, where geographical proximity is considered highly important and those where geographically distant partners are preferred. Geographical proximity plays an important role in partnerships motivated by interaction around actual product development and knowledge creation, while long-distance relationships appear to be important for partnerships motivated by market access and cost considerations. The insight that the desired proximity characteristics of partnerships are indeed contingent on the motive for collaborating highlights how the proximity framework can be applied in the analysis of firm decision making.