Networks, Space and Competitiveness
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Networks, Space and Competitiveness

Evolving Challenges for Sustainable Growth

Edited by Roberta Capello and Tomaz Ponce Dentinho

The expert contributors illustrate that sources of regional competitiveness are strongly linked with spatially observable yet increasingly flexible realities, and include building advanced and efficient transport, communications and energy networks, changing urban and rural landscapes, and creating strategic and forward-looking competitiveness policies. They investigate long-term interactions between regional competitiveness and urban mobility, as well as the connections that link global sustainability with local technological and institutional innovations, and the intrinsic diversity of spatially rooted innovation processes. A prospective analysis on networks and innovation infrastructure is presented, global environmental issues such as climate change and energy are explored, and new policy perspectives – relevant world-wide – are prescribed.
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Chapter 1: Transport and communications and regional development: new potentials and challenges

Klaus Spiekermann and Michael Wegener


Increasing mobility is one of the constituting features of modernity: ‘The history of modern societies can be read as a history of their acceleration’ (Steiner, 1991: 24). Today Europe is facing a new thrust of acceleration: ever-tighter networks of motorways, high-speed railways and air connections are pervading every corner of the continent linking formerly isolated regions to the European core. At the same time, telecommunication networks not only connect every business and almost every home worldwide with 24-hour information, entertainment, advertising and services, but also with their mobile components allow a connection to these services from almost everywhere. The important role of transport and communications for regional development is one of the fundamental principles of spatial economics. In its most simplified form it implies that regions with better access to the locations of input materials and markets and with better connections with global centres of commerce and innovation will, ceteris paribus, be more productive, more competitive and hence more successful than more remote and isolated regions. However, the relationship between transport and communications and economic development is more complex. There are successful regions in the European core confirming the theoretical expectation that accessibility matters. However, there are also centrally located regions suffering from industrial decline and high unemployment. The poorest regions, as theory would predict, are at the periphery, but there are also prosperous peripheral regions, such as the Nordic countries. Yet also some of the economically fastest-growing regions are among the most peripheral ones, such as some regions in the new EU member states.

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