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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Chapter 3: Understanding and learning from an evolving geography of innovation

Andrés Rodríguez-Pose and Callum Wilkie


According to prevailing theories of agglomeration, location and innovation, innovative capacity and innovative activity are predisposed to concentrating in the ‘economic cores’ of the world. This would ultimately result in the emergence of a geography of innovation characterized by spatial imbalances and a distinct ‘urban’ or ‘city bias’. Some empirical evidence from both the developed and developing world would seem to validate this expectation – many core cities host a disproportionately large amount of innovative activity. There is also, however, growing empirical evidence indicating that spatial patterns of innovation are evolving and that, as a consequence, a more nuanced view of the geography of innovation would be necessary. The aim of the chapter is to explore the subtly evolving geography of innovation from both a theoretical perspective as well as an empirical one. More specifically, the chapter reviews the various theories that predict the concentration of innovation in large, core cities by exploring, using patent data, the spatial patterns of innovation in five developed and emerging countries. The chapter provides first order insights into the way in which the global geography of innovation is changing, and offers an interpretation and explanation for this evolving geography of innovation that feeds directly into a discussion of the policy implications associated with the gradual spatial dispersion of knowledge-intensive, innovative activity.

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