Chapter 8: Smart specialization and cluster emergence: Elements of evolutionary regional policies
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Smart specialization centers on the definition and promotion of regional specialization. In so doing, it is closely related to the notion of clustering. In smart specialization strategies elaborated by European regions so far, cluster promotion often plays a major role. However, the question of how regional specializations develop and which role regional agents play in this process leads to a number of stylized arguments that should guide policy design and implementation. In line with the newer literature, smart specialization needs to draw on evolutionary and relational notions that consider micro-level dynamics as underlying drivers of regional trajectories. These trajectories can lead to processes of cluster emergence that propel the evolution of regional specializations. Without considering these elements, a process of smart specialization would remain vague and incomplete. The paper draws on ideas of continuous analysis of cluster emergence, revolving cluster policy and smart experimentation, and proposes policy-oriented methods for achieving regional specializations based on a combination of regional openness to new trajectories and the targeted promotion of new specializations. These ideas can serve as guidelines for evolutionary regional policies that acknowledge micro-level evolutionary dynamics and promote new path development.

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