Chapter 1: The role of clusters and public policy in new regional economic path development
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This chapter deals with the role of clusters and public policy in new regional economic path development. New path development is analysed from an institutional perspective by focusing on changes in the wider regional innovation system (RIS), including firms, universities and governmental agencies, and by placing emphasis on the role that public policy can play. We argue that new regional economic path development requires a broad-based policy approach that stimulates cross-fertilizing effects between different industrial activities within and beyond the region. While cluster policies are well-suited to support the growth and sustainment of existing industries, policies for new path development should aim at regional diversification and variety creation, preferably based on existing strengths and expertise in the region. These ideas are central to the Constructing Regional Advantage (CRA) approach. Empirically, the chapter draws on case study research on two new regional economic growth paths in Sweden and Norway, namely the new media cluster in Southern Sweden and the Oslo Cancer cluster. While the first is an example of path renewal through combining knowledge bases, the latter is an example for new path creation based on scientific knowledge. The empirical analysis underlines the role that public policy can play in facilitating new regional economic path development.

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