Regional Development and Proximity Relations
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Regional Development and Proximity Relations

Edited by André Torre and Frédéric Wallet

The notion of proximity is increasing in popularity in economic and geographic literature, and is now commonly used by scholars in regional science and spatial economics. Few academic works, however, have explored the link between regional development and proximity relations. This comprehensive book redresses the balance with its assessment of the role of, and obstacles caused by, proximity relations in regional development processes.
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Chapter 11: Economic development, place-based development strategies and the conceptualization of proximity in European urban regions

Teodora Dogaru, Frank van Oort and Mark Thissen


The discussion on proximity has evolved in various theoretical, conceptual and empirical directions since the seminal contributions by Torre and Rallet (2005) and Boschma (2005). One of the main arguments for conceptualizing proximities other than physical proximities is embedded in the ever-growing importance of knowledge over other production factors of organizations and entrepreneurs. Knowledge is acquired through the interactive process of learning, based on the cognitive competencies and experiences of actors. A distinction can be made between 'tacit' and 'codified' knowledge. Tacit knowledge can be defined as the person-specific knowledge that people have developed through a process of learning-by-doing or learning-by-using, meaning that a person is able to use it but is not, or is not yet, able to codify it in a transferable form, such as a book, patent or a mathematical formula. These kinds of knowledge are not fixed. Tacit knowledge and codified knowledge have to be perceived as dynamic attributes that can be transformed into one other. After a period of application, tacit knowledge can be codified and, vice versa; sometimes, codified knowledge can be developed further and can become tied to individuals. The ways in which learning and the transfer of knowledge across organizations in spatial settings can be investigated and measured, has triggered much debate and research (Van Oort and Lambooy, 2013). As tacit knowledge is most productively transferred face-to-face, physical proximity of organizations, entrepreneurs, subcontractors and customers is often required.

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