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A practice perspective on knowledge, learning and innovation – insights from an EU network of small food producers

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • Clare Rigg
  • Paul Coughlan
  • Denise O'Leary
  • David Coghlan
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/12/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>Entrepreneurship and Regional Development
Issue number7-8
Number of pages20
Pages (from-to)621-640
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date31/01/21
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Drawing on insider research with a three-year EU network created to support innovation in geographically marginalized traditional food companies, this paper makes three contributions to discussions of innovation in small and micro-firms. First, we shift focus away from conceiving of knowledge as a discrete entity, and of knowledge sharing, transfer and exchange as the passing of objects. Applying a practice perspective that conceptualizes innovation as situated in the everyday activities of organizing, learning and working, we extend open innovation ideas and identify three distinct sets of knowledge-creating practices that small and micro-firm actors in this network context engage in as they interact: seek-and-take, peer exploration and critical reflection. Second, we integrate these practices into a model that suggests how different kinds of knowledge boundary (entitative, epistemic, pragmatic and existential) are differently traversed by these practices, with more complex boundaries benefitting from a practice approach. Third, we refine a practical approach for policy interventions designed to stimulate small and micro-firm innovation. The relevance of our contribution lies in the significance of small firms within peripheral economies, and the particular challenges they face in accessing new knowledge for innovation.