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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Bjørn T. Asheim, Arne Isaksen, Roman Martin and Michaela Trippl
Robert Hassink and Dirk Fornahl
Robert Huggins and Piers Thompson
The field of regional development is subject to an ever increasing multiplicity of concepts and theories seeking to explain uneven development across regional contexts. One concept and theoretical tool that has endured and remained keenly discussed since the 1990s is ‘regional competitiveness’. Indeed, the rise of the concept has led to many frameworks and applications emerging and being employed in various contexts. Such variety has been both a blessing and a curse, with the notion of the ‘competitiveness of regions’ remaining an area of contested theoretical debate, especially arguments concerning the extent to which places actually compete for resources and markets. This chapter presents a broad overview of the evolution of regional competitiveness thinking, and aims to make clear the connections across a variety of contemporary regional development theories. The chapter firstly introduces the regional competitiveness concept and discusses its close association with schools of endogenous growth and development theory. The potential for measuring regional competitiveness is considered, before the chapter turns its attention to providing an introduction to some key contemporary theoretical perspectives on regional development. In particular the ideas of regional growth systems, institutions, ‘upstream’ behavioural theories of regional development concerning both cultural and psychological explanations, and concepts of regional ‘resilience’ and ‘well-being’ are considered. The chapter concludes by considering how the differing theoretical perspectives can be integrated, as well as providing an outline of the volume as a whole.