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 III Cities, innovation and creativity: introduction

Richard Shearmur, Christophe Carrincazeaux and David Doloreux


Cities have almost always been depicted, and thought of, as quintessentially innovative, as places from which new culture, new mores, new fashion and new technology emerge. Dick Whittington left his sleepy rural home for the glitter and gold of London. Karl Marx contrasted the energy, interactions and ideas generated in cities with dull peasants interacting like potatoes in a sack (that is, passively bumping into each other without generating any energy or new ideas). Jane Jacobs went further, attributing the agrarian revolution to cities – though some archeologists suggest she is stretching evidence to the breaking point (Smith et al., 2014). Notwithstanding this view of cities, it is evident that much innovation originates in non-urban places. Peter Hall, in his book Cities in Civilization (1998), describes how the industrial revolution began in the textile producing rural areas of northern England. Perdue (1994) traces the history of innovation in agrarian societies, and more recently Bombardier invented the Skidoo in rural Quebec (Ricci, 2013). It is therefore not a foregone conclusion that cities are the font of innovation.

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