David A. Wolfe
The processes of globalization that have unfolded at an accelerating pace in recent decades have raised important questions about the value of proximity in a digital economy. Yet, innovation and creativity overwhelmingly occur in the geographic context of city-regions, which are consequently critical sites for determining economic performance. Thus, many aspects of the trend towards globalization make cities more, not less, important as principal sites for innovation, creativity and the production of knowledge intensive goods and services.This chapter surveys some of the evidence on the virtues of economic specialization versus diversity for urban economic growth; the emergence of a global hierarchy of cities around the world with ever more differentiated economic roles; the relative importance of greater concentrations of highly skilled and creative workers as attractors for firms and industries; and the relationship between creative occupations and creative industries as drivers of urban economic growth.
Neil Bradford and David A. Wolfe
Innovation in the knowledge-based economy is a complex, multifaceted process, one that challenges actors from government, business, education and communities to adapt through collaboration and learning. This chapter argues that it is the social characteristics that underlie the innovation process itself and the broader political arrangements and policy mechanisms that condition change and enable success. Rather than looking narrowly at economic institutions or state regulations, this perspective emphasizes the governance relations among firms, across sectors and between economic actors and governments. The concept of the “innovation system” captures the crucial role that knowledge plays in the economy and the importance of collaboration through institutional processes of social and policy learning operating at multiple geographic scales from the local to the supranational. Better understanding of the role that knowledge plays in the economy, coupled with new insights into governance and learning models, provides a framework to assess the alignment of public, private and community resources supporting innovation. Surveying processes of economic transformation underway in many local and regional innovation systems across OECD countries, the chapter offers ideas for strengthening knowledge platforms in the economy, community and government.