The Learning Region

The Learning Region

Foundations, State of the Art, Future

Edited by Roel Rutten and Frans Boekema

The aim of this book is to present a much-needed conceptualization of ‘the learning region’. The editors scrutinize key concepts and issues surrounding this phenomenon, which are then discussed in the context of recent literature. This unique conceptualization of the learning region presents a state of the art exploration of theories. Leading scholars from across Europe, the USA and South Africa draw upon various disciplines to explain how regional actors perform regional learning.

Chapter 2: Regional ‘Worlds’ of Production: Learning and Innovation in the Technology Districts of France, Italy and the USA

Michael Storper

Subjects: business and management, organisational innovation, economics and finance, regional economics, geography, economic geography, innovation and technology, innovation policy, organisational innovation, urban and regional studies, regional economics


Michael Storper A NEW ERA OF COMPETITION There is now widespread agreement that the forms of production organization which characterized the most dynamic industries of the post-war period in the advanced economies, i.e. mass production in the consumer durables sectors and their associated capital goods, are no longer as central to economic growth, change and capital accumulation as they once were. The social science literatures are replete with tales of the restructuring of the Chandlerian–Galbraithian firm, the spread of programmable technologies, the shortening of product cycles, the deepening of contracting and subcontracting relations, the revival of the role of small and mediumsized units of production, and the emphasis on quality as much as on price in competition (Piore and Sabel, 1984; Becattini, 1987; Sabel, 1989; Best, 1990; Sengenberger and Loveman, 1990; Hirst and Zeitlin, 1992). There is an emerging consensus that the most advanced competitive standard in the evolving system of open global markets is that of continuous technological change (Amendola and Gaffard, 1990; Amsden, 1990; Best, 1990). There is also evidence of increasing specialization in world trade patterns as a result of uneven distribution of specialized technical skills and learning (Dosi et al., 1990; Gerstenberger, 1990; Porter, 1990; Guerrieri, 1992). Many of these technologically dynamic, export-oriented sectors are found in localized concentrations within their respective national territories: examples include the high technology zones of the USA, the strong concentration of mechanical engineering in southern Germany, the famous pockets of design-oriented production in northeast-central Italy, or the concentration...

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