This chapter advances the discussions on leadership by proposing that action research contributes to, not only the analysis of territorial leadership, but also its construction. Action research requires the active participation of researchers and territorial actors in co-generative transformation processes that give shared leadership as a result. This approach invites researchers to explore their own agency in the construction of territorial leadership, which is an evolution in their research positionality from observer to active participant. Researchers cannot avoid influencing the social processes, such as the construction of regional innovation systems through territorial leadership. Action research provides frameworks and methods for them to be aware of and to actively address this influence. In the chapter, examples are presented and discussed.
James Karlsen and Miren Larrea
Ainhoa Arrona, James Karlsen and Miren Larrea
There are different ways to interpret what policy learning is. There is diversity, for instance, when it comes to who is learning, what they are learning and the result of the learning process. This chapter shares, first, some of the perspectives developed in the framework of regional innovation policies. Then it focuses on the role of researchers in the field to contribute to policy learning. When addressing the role of researchers, we depart from the opinion held by some authors that policymakers do not always have the absorptive capacity required to implement policy recommendations delivered by researchers. Subsequently we offer a hypothesis that what is hindering these processes is not only the lack of absorptive capacity by policymakers but also the taken-for-granted assumptions that linear transfer works. Linear transfer is the process through which knowledge is first generated by researchers, secondly translated into recommendations and finally implemented by policymakers. We argue that behind the low level of effectiveness of these procedures lies, as much as the requirement for capabilities by policymakers, the need for a better understanding of the policy process by researchers. We try to address this last issue in two ways. First, we propose some frameworks from policy sciences that can help complement the ones in regional innovation policy literature. Then, based on in-depth interviews with policymakers in the Basque country, we share some insights into why policymakers find recommendations from researchers hard to implement, signalling how this connection could be improved. In the concluding section, we propose some methodological features of research that could help enhance policy-learning processes.