The Learning Region
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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.
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Chapter 12: The Learning Region: A Constructive Critique

Robert Hassink


Robert Hassink 1. INTRODUCTION In the framework of the contemporary transformation from an industrial to a knowledge-based economy, the learning economy (Lundvall, 1996), learning regions and also learning cities have been propagated as future concepts for successful economic development in many countries of Europe (Morgan, 1997; Hassink, 2001; van Geenhuizen, 1999; Butzin, 2000; Scheff, 1999; Boekema et al., 2000; OECD, 2001; Landabaso et al., 2001; Fürst, 2001; MacKinnon et al., 2002; Kunzmann and Tata, 2003). The capacity of both individuals and organizations to engage successfully in learning processes is regarded as a crucial component of economic performance in the knowledge-based economy. Therefore, ‘identifying and strengthening the factors that can support . . . economic learning have become critical goals for policymakers and academic researchers alike’ (Benner, 2003: 1809). Oinas and Virkkala (1997) and Lagendijk (1997) even speak about the 1990s as being the era of the learning economy and the learning region, and Malmberg (1997: 576) refers to the ‘learning turn’ in economic geography. The debate about learning regions has not been confined to an academic and abstract one. Recently, both semi-academic empirical work on the learning region by the OECD (2001) and numerous policy initiatives launched under the label of learning regions (Lagendijk and Cornford, 2000) provide us with a considerable amount of empirical information on the learning region phenomenon. The OECD (2001) published a study called Cities and Regions in the New Learning Economy, which can be considered as the first in-depth empirical study on the concept of learning...

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