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Marie Ferru and Alain Rallet

Debate about the role of proximity in the innovation process appeared in the early 1990s and was at the core of a small research group composed of French researchers, some from the field of industrial economics and others from regional economics. The originality of the group’s work was therefore not the use of the word itself, but using it with its various meaning, as until then the notion had been understood only in terms of its geographic dimension. The question of the geography of innovation has remained one of the main issues in the work raised by the French School of Proximity. Twenty-five years later, how do we situate all these studies? The paper aims at examining the trajectory of these studies, the stage they have reached in their life cycle: rise, maturity or decline? Is there saturation or renewal? Burnout or resilience? It gives a periodization of studies on proximity based on the publications it has produced and details the specific content of the two periods that we define, before suggesting some avenues for renewal which may lead to a “rebound cycle”.

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Olivier Bouba-Olga, Michel Grossetti and Marie Ferru