The argument underlying this chapter is that academic background does influence political action and that conceptual and theoretical knowledge has a major impact on problem definition, agenda-setting and policy design. However, it further elaborates that argument, going beyond the cognitive dimension and calling the attention to the sometimes decisive role played by other skills, competencies, attitudes and even ‘global’ networks embodied in the ‘academic background’. The argument is empirically supported by a detailed presentation of a specific policy-making exercise that took place for over a year, dealing with the introduction of substantive changes on established practices in the design and focus of innovation-based regional development policy. The chapter then focus on the reconsideration of the learning–teaching process, following the return to academia, namely going beyond the emphasis on the cognitive dimensions and extending understanding to the capacity to enact transformative changes in society in the prosaic world of practice.
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