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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.

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Franz Tödtling, Christoph Höglinger and Markus Grillitsch

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Markus Grillitsch, Josephine V. Rekers and Markku Sotarauta

Agency is considered an essential but understudied factor in processes of regional structural change. However, investigating agency systematically and at the micro-level, comes with a great deal of challenges. What are these challenges and how can they be addressed? In effort to combine general methodological considerations with concrete empirical practicalities, we share our process of developing an adequate methodology for the ReGrow (Regional Growth Against All Odds) project in which we conduct twelve comparative in-depth case studies on the role of agency in regional development. We identified seven methodological challenges regarding ontology, research design, time periods, spatial scales, research instruments, data collection and analysis. In this chapter we discuss these challenges as well as our strategies to overcome them. In doing so, we provide methodological insights and guidance to other scholars of agency in regional development.

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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.