The differentiated knowledge base approach is rooted in the regional innovation system tradition. The distinction between the three knowledge bases, analytical (science based), synthetic (engineering based), and symbolic (art based), takes account of the rationale of knowledge creation, the way knowledge is developed and used, the criteria for successful outcomes, and the interplay between actors in processes of creating, transmitting and absorbing knowledge. This in turn helps explaining their different sensitivity to geographical distance and, accordingly, the importance of spatial proximity for localised learning. As this threefold distinction refers to ideal types, identifying the critical knowledge input for innovation, which represents the competitive edge of products and firms, most activities are in practice comprised of more than one knowledge base, which is referred to as combinatorial knowledge bases. The chapter will introduce the concept, track its theoretical development and discuss its impact and contributions to (regional) innovation studies and policy.
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