The Learning Region
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The Learning Region

Foundations, State of the Art, Future

Edited by Roel Rutten and Frans Boekema

The aim of this book is to present a much-needed conceptualization of ‘the learning region’. The editors scrutinize key concepts and issues surrounding this phenomenon, which are then discussed in the context of recent literature. This unique conceptualization of the learning region presents a state of the art exploration of theories. Leading scholars from across Europe, the USA and South Africa draw upon various disciplines to explain how regional actors perform regional learning.
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Chapter 11: Learning About Innovation in Europe’s Regional Policy

Nicola Bellini and Mikel Landabaso


Nicola Bellini and Mikel Landabaso1 INTRODUCTION In the good old times, scholars and practitioners arguing in favour of a regional dimension of innovation policies wanted to be the avant garde of new, forward-looking thinking in contrast to the old-fashioned conventional wisdom, according to which ‘grand’ industrial policy inherently required the full strength of the nation state or – for some – the new European ‘super state’. The former looked for answers from a new territorial and systemic perspective, paying particular attention to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and endogenous capacities rather than searching for exogenous help by, for example, luring inward investment, typically branch factories of multinational companies, through fiscal incentives. At the same time, the emphasis on innovation implied a departure from traditional regional policies, focused on the transfer of resources from ‘rich’ to ‘poor’ areas and on providing basic infrastructures to disadvantaged regions in the name of cohesion objectives. Nowadays the need for regional innovation policy looks more commonplace, although policy makers and academics alike are still looking for the appropriate policy responses. Following the Lisbon agenda, there has been a general trend towards policy experimentation at regional level in the field of the economic exploitation of ‘knowledge’ and technological innovation as a means of promoting economic development.2 Regional policy makers are trying to develop new innovation policies that focus much more on the provision of collective business and technology services to groups of firms in a way that can affect their innovative behaviour, rather than direct grants to...

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