Local Advantage in a Global Context
New Horizons in Regional Science series
Edited by Charlie Karlsson, Börje Johansson and Roger R. Stough
Chapter 1: Introduction – Human Capital and Agglomeration
Charlie Karlsson, Börje Johansson and Roger R. Stough In recent decades, we have witnessed an increasing interest in phenomena associated with the emerging knowledge economy. However, the concept as such was launched in the late 1950s and early 1960s (Drucker, 1959; Machlup, 1962). The fundamental characteristics of the global knowledge economy of today are on the one hand a continuous increase in knowledge investments such as education and knowledge production, and on the other hand, a widening application of knowledge in the development, production, distribution and use of goods and services. In this context, knowledge can be defined to comprise the abilities, capabilities, methods, creativity and persistence in identifying and solving problems by collecting, selecting, interpreting and applying existing knowledge and information (cf. van Oort and Raspe, 2007). The above observations imply a distinction between knowledge as ‘an object’ and knowledge as talent, skills, know-how and understanding embodied in individuals. The concern of this book is primarily the latter aspect, including creativity as a dynamic and knowledge-enhancing capacity. It is individuals and teams of individuals who identify and solve problems and pursue activities that involve creation of new knowledge. It is also individuals who are responsible for advancing formal and informal education, where teaching, tutoring and other forms of exchange of ideas transfer knowledge to other individuals. Thus it is only natural that skills and abilities of individuals to solve problems and transfer knowledge are a focal point in the knowledge economy. These skills and abilities are built up...