The influence of small town context on access to external knowledge

Meili, Rahel (2019). The influence of small town context on access to external knowledge Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, 31(9-10), pp. 826-841. Taylor & Francis 10.1080/08985626.2019.1606288

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The relative lack of variety and density of people, companies and knowledge institutions in small towns compel companies to seek new knowledge beyond their location. However, there is only scant research explaining the local characteristics that influence companies’ ability to access external knowledge. In this article, the focus lies on the obstacles and opportunities that arise due to companies’ location in small towns and that emerge when they seek to access external knowledge sources. A multiple case study design with qualitative interview data from five multinational high-tech companies in small towns in the eastern part of Switzerland is used. Also, a theoretical replication of the case study by investigating two single domestic high-tech companies was conducted. The results show that a thin labour market, a lack of urban amenities and the availability of transportation connections to bigger cities are most important for accessing the knowledge of new employees, collaborating with universities and for attending workshops or conferences. On the whole, multinational companies in small towns face the same obstacles and opportunities as single domestic companies in small towns.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


Business School


Meili, Rahel0000-0002-1185-2781




Taylor & Francis




Rahel Meili

Date Deposited:

29 Mar 2022 14:38

Last Modified:

29 Mar 2022 21:46

Publisher DOI:


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Uncontrolled Keywords:

Innovation small towns knowledge sources non-core region multinational companies periphery regional development Switzerland




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