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Recent research has emphasized that success of industrial clusters is not only driven by intra-cluster knowledge sharing ('local buzz') but also by externally sourced knowledge ('global knowledge pipelines'). This article examines the factors that determine the channels through which clusters connect with global knowledge pipelines depending on the structure of the global value chain within which they are inserted, their knowledge base and their stage of evolution. Building on a comparative case study of the salmon farming cluster in Chile and the software cluster in Costa Rica, we adopt an evolutionary perspective based on historical analysis to better understand how the configuration of clusters' international knowledge linkages shifts over time. Our findings suggest that (i) the more hierarchical the global value chain structure, the less room for knowledge co-creation between local and foreign actors; (ii) clusters relying on analytical knowledge bases opt for more formal and coordinated links with high involvement of public actors, whereas in clusters relying on synthetic knowledge bases, international knowledge interaction is based on less formal links mainly between business actors; and (iii) as clusters evolve the channels through which they connect with foreign knowledge increase in number and new 'hybrid' varieties develop.
cluster evolution; knowledge bases; global value chains; absorptive capacity; knowledge gatekeepers