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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 8: Conclusion: one size fits only one in place-based regional policy

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


Important and large regions are increasingly considered to be one of the main contributors to the economic growth of nations (World Bank, 2009). This ‘triumph of the city’ (Glaeser, 2011) induces a discussion on regional economic development strategies in an attempt to create strong regions and stimulate development in lagging regions. The resulting place-based policies (Barca, 2009) evolved in the European context directly from the Lisbon Agenda in 2000, and accumulated into the current (smart, sustainable and inclusive) growth objectives of the Europe 2020 policy programme that are central in the envisioned cohesion policy reform after 2013. The policies take the form of a smart specialization development perspective based on a systems way of thinking about innovation and growth given the region’s place in a complex regional system and local institutions (McCann and Ortega-Argilés, 2011).

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