After 50 years of existence, regional economics embraces a large number of approaches, theories and models for the interpretation of location choices and regional development trajectories. Assuming a historical perspective, this chapter aims to underline the way in which the notion of space and growth has developed in theories of regional economics, leading to a higher interpretative capacity of theories and models. The chapter covers all groups of theories belonging to regional economics: location theory, regional growth theories and local development theories. Advances in theoretical approaches are highlighted. Aspects that run counter to general beliefs emerge by reading the original contributions of well-known theoreticians, and are presented. Advanced in merging different theoretical approaches have been made over the past ten years, and are presented in the chapter.
The set of approaches currently available in regional science to interpret regional innovation and knowledge creation is the result of a way of scientific thinking that regional scientists developed over more than 60 years. One way to appreciate the long-standing scientific effort in innovation and knowledge theories is to present them diachronically by highlighting the paradigmatic jumps that the history of economic thought has gone through in this field of research. The different conceptualizations of space in innovation and knowledge-creation theories represent the real path-breaking achievements in understanding local determinants, conditions and actors involved in processes of knowledge and innovation creation, as well as the intensity of the effects caused by such processes; from a geographical space, to space as territory, to a-spatial proximities, in the form of institutional and cognitive proximities. The chapter presents the main theories developed the field of innovation and knowledge creation in regional science in a diachronic way, grouping them according to the manner in which space is conceived. The aim is to highlight the conceptual advancements and additional interpretative capacity obtained by each theoretical paradigm. Future research directions in the field conclude the chapter.