Recent years have seen a lively debate over the role of tacit knowledge and interactive learning in privileging the local over the global. Yet, our continuing inability to answer questions such as 'when and why is the local important in production and innovation processes?' indicates that our understanding of the firm and the forces that shape its managers' choices remains weak. Such a theory ought to be able to answer fundamental questions like: why do firms inparticular places adopt particular production and innovation practices, and not others? What forces determine what a firm 'knows' and when it is able to act upon this knowledge? How easy is it to transfer this knowledge between places?This book presents a new conception of industrial practice and firm behaviour. It explains how the cultures that shape the practices of firms and the trajectories of regional and national economies are actually produced. The analysis shows how the internal and inter-firm organization of production, use of technologies, and the industrial knowledge underpinning these practices are strongly influenced by their social and institutional context. Routine forms of behaviour are not simplyinherited from past practice. Instead, they are shaped and constrained - though not wholly determined - by a set of institutions that govern how work is organized, workers are deployed, and technology is implemented. Because of the slowly evolving nature of these institutions, distinctive national 'models'are not converging around a single global norm.