New Horizons in Regional Science series
Edited by André Torre and Frédéric Wallet
Chapter 10: The regional policy debate: a territorial, place-based and proximity approach
It is widely recognized that a territorial and proximity approach is crucial for the analysis and interpretation of development trends and spatial differentiation. In fact, the capability to respond to the requirements and potentials of world markets; the ability to fully exploit the local endowment of 'territorial capital'; the attitude to promote and implement new industrial schemes and innovation projects, are all elements unevenly distributed across space and are place specific. Agglomeration externalities, proximity interactions and 'milieu' relationships add to these specificities, emphasizing the presence of local success factors (Martin, 2004; Torre and Rallet, 2005; Camagni and Maillat, 2006). Coming to economic policy and development policy, these recognized and already stylized facts are often not taken into sufficient consideration and sometimes even contested (World Bank, 2009). But hopefully, on the other hand, in the regional economic policy debate, in particular with reference to the EU regional policy, the growing acknowledgement that a territorial and proximity approach is crucial for the modernization of traditional policy philosophies mainly based on equity considerations, income transfer attitudes, generic, pervasive and unselective strategies of infrastructure, public services and even R & D facility provision. Therefore, updated regional policies look a potentially effective answer to the general goals of increasing competitiveness of nations-and of the EU-generating at the same time a more equitable spatial distribution of development through the exploitation of local capabilities, assets and internal cohesion.
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