The Importance of Proximity for the Start-Ups' Knowledge Acquisition and Exploitation


  • Manuela Presutti is associate professor of management at the Department of Management of the University of Bologna.

  • Cristina Boari is full professor of business strategy at the University of Bologna.

  • Antonio Majocchi is associate professor of international business and management at the Faculty of Economics, University of Pavia.

Manuela Presutti, The University of Bologna, Department of Management, Via Capo di Lucca, Bologna 34 40126, Bologna 40126, Italy. E-mail:


This paper intends to verify the impact of geographical proximity on the processes of knowledge acquisition and exploitation by high-tech start-ups considering at the same time the role of both the social and cognitive dimensions of proximity. Our basic assumption is that proximity means a lot more than just geography. The findings from this research broaden our understanding of how start-ups located inside an industrial cluster acquire knowledge from their customers and exploit it in an innovative way, underscoring the need to reconsider assumptions regarding the importance of geographical proximity between business partners during knowledge management.