Bridging Disciplinary Frontiers
Chapter 1: Networks, Governance and Economic Development: An Introduction
Mari Jose Aranguren Querejeta, Cristina Iturrioz Landart and James R. Wilson 1 NETWORKS AND GOVERNANCE: A RESEARCH AGENDA The potential signiﬁcance of networks of economic actors in strengthening the development processes of localities and helping to deliver economic success has been increasingly recognized in recent years. This awareness has grown alongside concerns surrounding the economic impacts of globalization on speciﬁc places. Thus the contribution of networks is frequently analysed in terms of contributing to the ‘competitiveness’ of localities in a global context.1 The networking of ﬁrms as an economic phenomenon with the potential to provide an ‘engine’ for local economic development is by no means a new concept. It is perhaps most famously rooted in Marshall’s (1907, 1919) analysis of agglomeration in ‘industrial districts’. However, in recent years ‘networks’ as an economic policy concern have become increasingly fashionable, with policies to stimulate and strengthen networking among ﬁrms frequently perceived as desirable by the actors and agencies concerned with facilitating local economic development. This emphasis is supported by (and arguably in response to) a growing literature analysing the economic successes of industrial districts, clusters, innovative milieux and other place-speciﬁc agglomerations of ﬁrms.2 Geographical proximity is often argued to play a crucial role in facilitating the production, knowledge and social relationships that characterize many of these successful networks. However there is also recognition of the potential for networks to operate across localities, enabling speciﬁc places to develop and/or sustain positions as ‘competitive hubs’ in networks of global production...