Handbook on the Geographies of Innovation
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Handbook on the Geographies of Innovation

Edited by Richard Shearmu, Christophe Carrincazeaux and David Doloreux

The geography of innovation is changing. First, it is increasingly understood that innovative firms and organizations exhibit a wide variety of strategies, each being differently attuned to diverse geographic contexts. Second, and concomitantly, the idea that cities, clusters and physical proximity are essential for innovation is evolving under the weight of new theorizing and empirical evidence. In this Handbook we gather 28 chapters by scholars with widely differing views on what constitutes the geography of innovation. The aim of the Handbook is to break with the many ideas and concepts that emerged during the course of the 1980s and 1990s, and to fully take into account the new reality of the internet, mobile communication technologies, personal mobility and globalization. This does not entail the rejection of well-established and supported ideas, but instead allows for a series of new ideas and authors to enter the arena and provoke debate.
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The geographies of innovations: beyond one-size-fits-all

Richard Shearmur, Christophe Carrincazeaux and David Doloreux

Abstract

Many key ideas and concepts that underpin our understanding of the geography of innovation were developed in the 1980s and early 1990s. They have in common their reference to a world of limited mobility and expensive communications. Furthermore, they were developed without fully theorizing geography: it is the innovation process and firm behaviour that have been theorized, leaving geographical concepts relatively unexplored. In the chapter the authors outline some of the limits of the current way that the geography of innovation is understood. First, they argue that geography should not be approached as a canvas upon which innovation occurs, but needs to be problematized and theorized. Second, we argue that there are ambiguities – or confusions – in the object and purpose of research: if the reasons for studying the geography of innovation were better articulated, and if the type of innovative process being examined were clarified, many apparently irreconcilable observations and ideas would be found to be complementary. Finally, the authors highlight the contextuality of geographic thought and concepts: each researcher brings to the table his or her own cultural biases and beliefs, and these colour the emphasis put on particular aspects of the interconnection between space and innovation.

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