Promoting science and innovation in peripheries: the case of bees and beekeepers as boundary objects in the peri-urban

Authors: Kirsten Martinus*, The University of Western Australia, Isabel Kistner, The University of Western Australia, Dylan Pritchard, The University of Western Australia
Topics: Economic Geography, Regional Geography, Australia and New Zealand
Keywords: economic geography, serious leisure, innovation, knowledge transfer, peripheral economies
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Astor Ballroom I, Astor, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Though innovation is widely recognised as a driver of regional success, there is little understanding how it occurs in periphery areas with limited industry or population where spatial distance between knowledge actors make knowledge transfer and interaction more difficult. We hypothesis this may be overcome by the practices of ‘serious’ leisure-seekers or hobbyists in industries which require highly-specific or specialized knowledge. Beekeeping is an example of such an industry, which not only attracts such hobbyists but is also found in peripheral locations. In addition, the importance of bees and their keepers to society and the environment means they act as boundary objects connecting a diverse number of interest groups such as farmers, environmentalists and research scientists. Using a case study of beekeeping in outer metropolitan Perth, Western Australia, we unpack how both serious hobby and commercial beekeepers seek out specialized knowledge and introduce it to peripheral areas. We find that knowledge transfer between beekeepers relies on a combination of trust, high social connectivity and their regional capacity to adopt local and global knowledge. We discuss how innovation within the industry as a whole is driven in part by hobbyists who use ‘trial and error’ and/or spend large amounts of time and money to improve practices. We find that the knowledge-seeking action of hobbyists potentially introduces new information from a variety of sources to the peripheral community, and that better understanding how it is adapted and used within the broader community promotes ‘science’ as practice in periphery locations.

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