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 8: Regional Innovation Networks

Leon Oerlemans, Marius Meeus and Patrick Kenis

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


Leon Oerlemans, Marius Meeus and Patrick Kenis INTRODUCTION Over the last 20 years, several new theoretical approaches have been developed to understand the determinants of successful regional development and policy in an economic environment that has become increasingly competitive and global. As argued by Mouleart and Sekia (2003), this search for a ‘new’ model of regional development was partially a result of the ambiguous results of regional policies implemented in the period after the Second World War. The larger part of regional policies in this period encompassed relative price incentive structures aimed at attracting employment to traditional manufacturing regions, building new infrastructures and the encouragement of production investments in lagging regions. Although these measures stimulated job creation in local firms and attracted external direct investments to these regions, these policies often suffered from a lack of structural embeddedness within regions. From the early 1980s onwards, several scholars (Lundvall and Borras, 1999; Asheim, 1999) observed a qualitative and structural change in the development of capitalist economies, that is, a transition from Fordism to post-Fordism leading to a so-called learning economy. Combined with an ongoing globalization, innovation and learning are regarded as core processes for maintaining and improving organizational competitiveness. Moreover, in this different context the nature of the innovation process has changed considerably. The linear model of innovation, in which innovation activities are sequentially conducted in the absence of feedback loops, is succeeded by the view that innovation is an interactive, cumulative and path-dependent process, following specific technological...

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