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 5: The Learning Region: Institutions, Innovation and Regional Renewal

Kevin Morgan

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


Kevin Morgan INTRODUCTION As we prepare to enter a new millennium the classical paradigms of social and economic development seem to have exhausted themselves. The paradigms of the Left, ranging from neo-Keynesian to Marxist, are impaired by an exaggerated and naive faith in the capacity of the state. Less credible still is the neo-liberal paradigm of the Right, whose adherents are unable or unwilling to recognize the shortcomings of the market as a mechanism for promoting economic development and social welfare. For all their differences the classical paradigms are afflicted by dualisms – state versus market, public versus private, etc. – which need to be transcended rather than affirmed in a one-sided fashion. In contrast, some of the more eclectic ‘third wave’ conceptions of development consciously try to eschew such binary thinking so as to open up to inquiry regional processes and intermediate institutions that were marginalized by the inordinate attention devoted to ‘state’ and ‘market’. Over the past few years in particular we have witnessed the spread of a new paradigm, variously referred to as the network or associational paradigm. Whatever the shortcomings of this new paradigm, it is clearly fuelled by the pervasive belief that ‘markets’ and ‘hierarchies’ do not exhaust the menu of organizational forms for mobilizing resources for innovation and economic development (Illeris and Jakobsen, 1990; Powell, 1990; Camagni, 1991; OECD, 1992; Lundvall, 1992; Cooke and Morgan, 1993; Grabher, 1993; Sabel, 1994; Storper, 1995; Amin and Thrift, 1995). A new, more sceptical conceptual landscape is...

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