Does distance matter for collaborative knowledge production? This question has intrigued scholars and policy makers for a long time. Distance does not only have a geographical dimension, but also an organisational, cognitive and social dimension. These dimensions feature prominently in the national and transnational research policies of the past decades. The object of study in this thesis is the water sector. This field has a large strategic relevance, and it is an interesting field for proximity research because of its high organisational and cognitive diversity, and because its challenges are specific to local conditions, but not bound by administrative and cultural borders. The research question of this study is: How is collaborative knowledge production in the water field influenced by geographical, organisational, social and cognitive proximity of the actors involved?
This study shows that geographical, organisational and social proximity all three have a positive effect on the propensity of actors to collaborate. Knowledge users turn out to be more susceptible to this effect than knowledge producers. Social and cognitive proximity also have a positive effect on the occurrence of reported outcomes of collaboration. Geographical and organisational proximity have a negative effect on explicit outcomes, but a positive effect on tacit outcomes of collaboration.
This study ends with recommendations for research policy to build and strengthen collaborative knowledge production networks.
Heringa, P.W., Proximity and collaborative knowledge production in the water sector, Den Haag, Rathenau Instituut 2014