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Regional Economies as Knowledge Laboratories

Edited by Philip Cooke and Andrea Piccaluga

Today, the study of regions is central to academic analysis and policy deliberation on how to respond to the rise of the knowledge economy. Regional Economies as Knowledge Laboratories illustrates how newer types of regional analysis – utilising scientometrics, knowledge services measures and university networks, and concepts such as knowledge life cycles, experimental knowledge creation, and knowledge ethics – are leading to a perception that regional economies increasingly resemble knowledge laboratories.
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Chapter 12: The 'knowledge economy': a critical view

Martin Sokol


12. The ‘knowledge economy’: a critical view Martin Sokol 1. INTRODUCTION The last decade has seen a remarkable amplification of voices within urban and regional studies literature that places information, knowledge, learning, technology, innovation and institutions at the forefront of their conceptual framework (see Malecki, 2000, for a recent review). Powerful concepts such as ‘intelligent region’ (Cooke and Morgan, 1994), ‘learning region’ (Florida, 1995; Asheim, 1996; Morgan, 1997; Boekema et al., 2000), ‘innovative cluster’ (Porter, 1990; OECD, 2001), ‘informational city’ (Castells, 1989), ‘competitive city’ (Simmie, 2002) or ‘knowledge-based city’ (Simmie and Lever, 2002) have proliferated and dominated urban and regional debate. At the heart of these concepts lies a conviction that knowledge is now the fundamental economic resource, and learning is the most important economic process (Lundvall and Johnson, 1994). More broadly, there is widespread acceptance that society and economy are being transformed into some sort of ‘information society’ or ‘knowledge-driven economy’ (Castells, 1996; Giddens, 2000, Leadbeater, 2000; Cooke, 2002). Some commentators go as far as to suggest that the new society emerging from this transformation could be ‘post-capitalist’ (Drucker, 1993; Leadbeater, 2000; but see also Hodgson, 1999). This, in turn, raises the hopes that within such a society, the old socio-spatial divisions and contradictions of industrial capitalism will fade away as the emerging new ‘knowledge age’ sets in. Indeed some optimistic voices in economic geography suggest that the new ‘knowledge age’ offers better prospects for more balanced social and regional development. Morgan (1997), for instance, has argued that...

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