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Regional Competitiveness and Smart Specialization in Europe

Place-based Development in International Economic Networks

  • New Horizons in Regional Science series

Mark Thissen, Frank van Oort, Dario Diodato and Arjan Ruijs

Regions economically differ from each other – they compete in different products and geographical spaces, exhibit different strengths and weaknesses, and provide different possibilities for growth and development. What fosters growth in one region may hamper it in another. This highly original book presents an accessible methodology for identifying competitors and their particular circumstances in Europe, discusses regional competitiveness from a conceptual perspective and explores both past and future regional development policies in Europe.
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Chapter 7: A smart specialization strategy: locational and network determinants of international competitiveness

Mark Thissen, Frank van Oort, Dario Diodato and Arjan Ruijs


In Chapter 2 we extensively discussed the importance of a smart specialization strategy to implement place-based development to strengthening competitiveness in line with Europe’s 2020 strategy and both the Lisbon and Gothenburg Agendas on Innovative Economic Development. In this chapter we show how the key locational and network determinants of competitiveness can play a role in a smart specialization strategy. This goes beyond the well-known benchmarks on locational competition mentioned in Chapter 3, as these do not take interregional network characteristics into account. Neglecting these will over estimate or underestimate certain locational factors and thereby lead to a poor evaluation of the regions’ performance. We determine network relations using the trade relations between NUTS-2 regions in the European Union based on a newly structured multi-regional input–output table on that geographical scale, including relations for 60 sectors and products that were introduced in Chapter 4. In the previous chapter we showed which regions actually are competing in different sectors and products.

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