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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Part I Theoretical approaches and concepts: introduction

Richard Shearmur, Christophe Carrincazeaux and David Doloreux


The scope of the literature on the geography of innovation is vast, the variety of approaches great, and agreement (and disagreement) on central issues and concepts sometimes difficult to pinpoint: it is therefore not possible to review it all adequately. The collection of chapters in Part 1 covers various specific facets of the geography of innovation literature, and sheds light on different aspects of the debate surrounding its theories, concepts and empirics. In particular it covers the role played by geographic factors in enabling or generating innovation, thereby, it is hoped, securing the dynamic growth and development of regional economies. The first contribution by McCann and Ortega-Argilés provides a conceptual overview of regional innovation, R & D and knowledge spillovers. This chapter seeks to place the discourse on the relationships between innovation and geography within the wider ( non-spatial) literature on the economics of knowledge, technology and innovation. According to the authors, this ‘is neither redundant, nor superfluous’ as this literature ‘is essential in order to develop a reasonable and realistic way of understanding these relationships’ (Chapter 1). Whilst not denying that agglomeration and geographical clustering theories can help make sense of some aspects of the innovation process, they emphasize that the relationships between geography and innovation are truly complex and will vary according to the nature and role of knowledge being created and exchanged. They therefore stress the need to develop analytical arguments relating to the conditions and mechanisms under which innovation, knowledge spillovers and clusters develop and co-exist, rather than assuming that there is a direct relationship between innovation and geographic co-location.

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