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.
Markus Grillitsch and Bjørn T. Asheim
The literature on cluster evolution suggests that heterogeneity of firm capabilities and openness of network structures are essential for the renewal of mature and declining clusters. This chapter argues that the regional and institutional context in which clusters are embedded plays an important role for the renewal of clusters. It elaborates how the integration of institutional variety can stimulate the combination of different types of knowledge, learning and modes of innovation, thereby promoting cluster renewal. The conceptual argument is illustrated with a case study of the maritime cluster in Møre og Romsdal, Norway, which is one of the globally leading clusters in this industry. We find that key actors and policy play an important role in integrating institutional variety. Additionally, the case shows that institutional variety and the integration thereof can be a driving force for cluster renewal even in specialized and semi-peripheral locations.
Bjørn Asheim, Lars Coenen and Jerker Moodysson
Bjørn T. Asheim, Arne Isaksen, Roman Martin and Michaela Trippl
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.
Björn T. Asheim, Markus Grillitsch and Michaela Trippl
Since its development in the 1990s, the Regional Innovation Systems (RIS) approach has attracted considerable attention from economic geographers, innovation scholars and policy makers. The RIS approach figures prominently in the scientific discourse about the uneven geography of innovation and the factors that shape the knowledge generation and innovation capacities of regions. The aim of the chapter is to reflect on the emergence of the RIS approach, the current debate as well as future challenges. This chapter is guided by four overarching research questions: What are the origins and theoretical foundations of this approach? What has the RIS approach contributed to innovation studies and economic geography? What are the implications for innovation policy? And what are the recent lines of research and key research challenges in the future? The authors argue that the contributions of the RIS approach have been substantial. Still, the approach has often been applied in a rather static way, more as a heuristic than a coherent theory. The key challenges for current and future research therefore are to move towards a more theory-based, dynamic perspective on RIS, dealing with new path development and the transformation of RIS.