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 13: A Future for the Learning Region

Roel Rutten and Frans Boekema


Roel Rutten and Frans Boekema After discussing the foundations and the state of the art, it is time to turn to the future. So, what is the learning region? Now that the multitude of concepts identified in Chapter 6 has been methodically scrutinized in the previous chapters, how should the learning region be defined? Looking for consensus among the authors in the previous chapters could yield important clues in this respect. The most important one seems to be their concern with relations between actors. Oerlemans et al., Lorenzen and Hassink are most emphatic about this. Oerlemans et al. specifically argue in favour of considering both the structural and relational dimensions of innovation networks, as the learning part of innovation networks is found in their relational dimension. Lorenzen argues that, contrary to the assumption made in mainstream economics, innovation and knowledge spillovers cannot be studied independently from the agents that bring them about. Hassink, finally, argues in favour of learning clusters as alternatives for learning regions, his point being that clusters have an unambiguous unit of analysis, that of agents and their relations. This emphasis on relations is in line with what, for example, Morgan argued in the foundations part of this volume (Part I), that a region must be understood as a nexus of processes. So the important clues that can now be identified are the focuses on agents and on processes. This, in turn, corresponds to the conceptual model of Figure 6.1, where ‘regional learning’...

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