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 26: Why local development and local innovation are not the same thing: the uneven geographic distribution of innovation-related development

Richard Shearmur


Innovation policy has become a mainstay of local and regional development policy because it is believed that innovative local firms will lead to local employment and income growth. Whilst it is unlikely that a locality and region will develop without local firms being innovative, the reverse does not hold: it is possible, and indeed feasible, that many smaller localities and regions harbour innovative firms without benefiting from the growth that they induce. In the chapter the author explores the reasons why it is believed that local innovation will lead to local growth, and then outlines why this belief is erroneous: innovation in local firms can lead to employment decline (in specialized regions where labour-saving technologies are developed), and local innovators are often being bought-up or compelled to open offices and production facilities in larger and more central places if their localities do not provide the resources necessary for expansion and growth.

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