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Proximity as determinant of business cooperation for technological and non-technological innovations: a study of an agribusiness cluster

Cristian Geldes (Departamento de Agronomia, Universidad de La Serena, La Serena, Chile)
Jorge Heredia (Department of Management, Universidad del Pacifico, Lima, Peru)
Christian Felzensztein (School of Business, Universidad Adolfo Ibañez, Santiago, Chile)
Marcos Mora (Department of Agricultural Economics, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Article publication date: 6 February 2017




This paper aims to use the proximity approach of economic geography with its spatial dimension (geographic) and their non-spatial dimensions (social, institutional, cognitive and organizational) to shed light on the determinants of business cooperation with other organizations. It is also examined whetherthis cooperation is a determining factor for business innovation (innovation networks), drawing a distinction between technological and non-technological innovations.


The study has a quantitative approach; it analyzes the case of 312 companies in a cluster of agribusinesses in an emerging economy (Chile). The proposal model and its interrelations are tested with exploratory factor analysis, confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modeling.


The results show that cognitive-organizational proximity is a positive determinant of business cooperation with other organizations, whereas social and institutional proximity are negative determinants. It is also established that business cooperation is a positive determinant of business innovation. It is more relevant in the case of technological innovation unlike non-technological innovations. In addition, it is noted that business cooperation levels are lower in micro-enterprises, a result that differs from developed countries.

Practical implications

For business managers, it is best to cooperate with companies that are similar in terms of cognitive and organizational levels for innovation. At the same time, it is necessary develop strategies to reduce the social and institutional barriers to cooperation, especially in the agribusiness sector.


The contributions of the study are as follows: an in-depth quantitative examination of the relationships of various non-spatial proximities as determinants of business cooperation; an analysis of whether business cooperation with other organizations is a determining factor for business innovation, distinguishing between technological and non-technological innovation; and testing these relationships in the context of agribusiness in an emerging economy such as Chile’s because most of studies are related to high-tech sector and developed economies.



This study is part of a larger project entitled “Innovation and Cooperation: The Case of the Agribusiness Sector in an Emerging Economy” at Universidad de La Serena. The authors thank the reviewers and editors for the constructive comments received for this paper as well as for an earlier version of this paper presented at the ENEFA-Chile Meeting 2014.


Geldes, C., Heredia, J., Felzensztein, C. and Mora, M. (2017), "Proximity as determinant of business cooperation for technological and non-technological innovations: a study of an agribusiness cluster", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 32 No. 1, pp. 167-178.



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