Regional Competitiveness and Smart Specialization in Europe
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Regional Competitiveness and Smart Specialization in Europe

Place-based Development in International Economic Networks

Mark Thissen, Frank van Oort, Dario Diodato and Arjan Ruijs

Regions economically differ from each other – they compete in different products and geographical spaces, exhibit different strengths and weaknesses, and provide different possibilities for growth and development. What fosters growth in one region may hamper it in another. This highly original book presents an accessible methodology for identifying competitors and their particular circumstances in Europe, discusses regional competitiveness from a conceptual perspective and explores both past and future regional development policies in Europe.
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Chapter 3: Regional economic development and competitiveness

Place-based Development in International Economic Networks

Mark Thissen, Frank van Oort, Dario Diodato and Arjan Ruijs


The development of important regions is increasingly considered as one of the main contributors to the economic growth of nations (World Bank, 2009). These important regions are generally large agglomerations and important players in the global economy. Countries may follow different regional economic development strategies in an attempt to create these strong regions and stimulate development in lagging regions. Direct policy interventions seem, however, to have only a limited effect and the transformation of lagging into leading regions appears to be largely beyond the control of policy-makers. As a consequence, national policy-makers may follow a laissez-faire approach and leave regional development to regional administrators. Differences in regional economic development, however, affect the regional distribution of income which may trigger national redistribution policies. These redistribution policies interfere with the laissez-faire approach and are problematic when allocating scarce national resources over different regions in combination with soft regional budget constraints. Moreover, the laissez-faire approach does not seem to solve the short-term problems that are the main justification for the place-based development policies that are leading in future cohesion policy (Barca, 2009).

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