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 5: Proximity dynamics and the geography of innovation: diminishing returns or renewal?

Marie Ferru and Alain Rallet


Debate about the role of proximity in the innovation process appeared in the early 1990s and was at the core of a small research group composed of French researchers, some from the field of industrial economics and others from regional economics. The originality of the group’s work was therefore not the use of the word itself, but using it with its various meaning, as until then the notion had been understood only in terms of its geographic dimension. The question of the geography of innovation has remained one of the main issues in the work raised by the French School of Proximity. Twenty-five years later, how do we situate all these studies? The paper aims at examining the trajectory of these studies, the stage they have reached in their life cycle: rise, maturity or decline? Is there saturation or renewal? Burnout or resilience? It gives a periodization of studies on proximity based on the publications it has produced and details the specific content of the two periods that we define, before suggesting some avenues for renewal which may lead to a “rebound cycle”.

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