Handbook on the Geographies of Regions and Territories
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Handbook on the Geographies of Regions and Territories

Edited by Anssi Paasi, John Harrison and Martin Jones

This new international Handbook provides the reader with the most up-to-date and original viewpoints on critical debates relating to the rapidly transforming geographies of regions and territories, as well as related key concepts such as place, scale, networks and regionalism. Bringing together renowned specialists who have extensively theorized these spatial concepts and contributed to rich empirical research in disciplines such as geography, sociology, political science and IR studies, this interdisciplinary collection offers fresh, cutting-edge, and contextual insights on the significance of regions and territories in today’s dynamic world.
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Chapter 11: Learning regions – a strategy for economic development in less developed regions?

Bjørn T. Asheim


The chapter presents learning regions, understood as regional development coalitions, as a strategy for economic development in less developed regions. This follows a long tradition of regional innovation policy making, where this bottom-up and inclusive approach has been applied to promote learning-based processes of innovation and change. The first example was the Regional Innovation Strategies actions of the EU Commission in the late 1990s focusing on supporting innovation in less developed regions. Today, learning regions, the chapter argues, can be applied to design and implement Smart Specialization Strategies, which is the present EU regional innovation policy, in less developed regions of Europe. The learning region strategy of building broad regional development coalitions would be a way of activating the entrepreneurial discovery process, a cornerstone in smart specialization, in less-developed regions by mobilizing people with an entrepreneurial mindset from all sectors of a community to start a process of economic development.

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