Handbook of Regional Innovation and Growth
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Handbook of Regional Innovation and Growth

Edited by Philip Cooke, Bjørn Asheim, Ron Boschma, Ron Martin, Dafna Schwartz and Franz Tödtling

Today, economic growth is widely understood to be conditioned by productivity increases which are, in turn, profoundly affected by innovation. This volume explores these key relationships between innovation and growth, bringing together experts from both fields to compile a unique Handbook.
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Chapter 21: The Changing Form and Geography of Social Capital

Stuart Rosenfeld


Stuart Rosenfeld Social capital has become, over the past two decades to 2010, a standard tool for economic development. Despite lack of consensus on precisely what social capital is and therefore how to measure it, city, state and regional governing agencies have come to understand and appreciate its contributions to competiveness, and they believe they need it to succeed in today’s economy. The challenges for regional development are to design interventions that develop social capital and increase rates of learning, networking innovation and sustainable growth and to ensure inclusivity. Further, regional development must consider how the geometrically increasing use of instantaneous communications is affecting the geography and meaning of social capital. Given an exhaustive literature on social capital and its impacts on learning and innovation in regional economies, this chapter will only summarize the highlights. Then it will speculate on how the widespread diffusion of technologies and talent, the digitalization of information and the instantaneity of communications are affecting the geography of the relationships and norms that characterize social capital. It will consider the effects of social capital on access to and the distribution of power and wealth in a region and, finally, suggest interventions to influence social capital in ways that accelerate innovation and sustainable growth and retain wealth in a region. Finally, it will conclude with some general findings and observations. REVIEWING SOCIAL CAPITAL, CIRCA 1980–2000 Initially ‘social capital’ was a term used predominantly by sociologists to describe the levels of trust, cooperation and community that exist...

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