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 7: Knowledge and the Competitiveness of Places

Ed Malecki and Gert-Jan Hospers

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


Ed Malecki and Gert-Jan Hospers Generally speaking, knowledge created and shared forms the basis of competitive areas. The competitiveness of places – localities, regions and nations – refers to the ability of the local economy and society to provide a rising standard of living for its inhabitants. Rarely is this possible by relying upon external investment such as branch plants, whose principal orientation and organizational links are external to the region. Rather, the strength of an economy is dependent on the degree to which knowledge is created, used and shared. Places are better off when they promote shared or public knowledge from which many firms and other organizations can benefit. It is difficult to create sufficient knowledge that could serve as a basis for local competitiveness. It is even more difficult to sustain it, however, because of the continuous emergence of competitor regions (Malecki, 1997; Hospers, 2005). This chapter deals with the link between knowledge and the competitiveness of places. In particular, it examines the link between creativity, knowledge, competence, learning and their role in creating and sustaining regional economic development. The chapter begins by defining knowledge and identifying the various forms that knowledge takes in the economic geography of places. Next, knowledge as input to economic growth and the transfer of knowledge are discussed, including a consideration of how local knowledge has become central to understanding firms. The focus of the chapter then shifts to the culture of knowledge, which is not only localized but also...

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