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.
Bjørn T. Asheim and Arne Isaksen
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.