A Handbook of Industrial Districts
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A Handbook of Industrial Districts

Edited by Giacomo Becattini, Marco Bellandi and Lisa De Propis

In this comprehensive original reference work, the editors have brought together an unrivalled group of distinguished scholars and practitioners to comment on the historical and contemporary role of industrial districts (IDs).
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Chapter 23: Technology Clusters, Industrial Districts and Regional Innovation Systems

Philip Cooke


Philip Cooke 1. Introduction: knowledge economies In this chapter an effort is made to compare and contrast Marshallian industrial districts (MIDs), neo-MIDs, technology clusters and regional innovation sysems t (RISs). Key similarities and differences involving social and spatial issues will enable a clearer understanding of when and how each terminology is ap ropriate. p Briefly, spatial scale is a crucial differentiating element in distin uishing districts, g old and new, and clusters, technological and even ‘creative’, from RISs. In simple terms a RIS may embrace numerous clusters or districts because the latter tend to be subregional or even localised as ‘quarters’ as in creative or cultural quarters of cities but also other business quarters – for ex mple, gun and jewellery quarters a in Birmingham; see De Propris and Lazz retti (2007). Technology clusters like e Silicon Valley or Greater Boston can be city-regional in scale but still within at least their administrative region or State that often has resources and support instruments for regionalised technology policy. Indeed a RIS that encompasses a knowledge generation or exploration subsystem of well-networked research institutes and university or corporate centres of research excellence, juxtaposed with a functioning knowledge ex loitation system of clustered (and unclustered) p firms and intermediaries (for example, technology parks, incubators and risk capital) has legitimacy because it normally (not always) has democratically devolved innovation support pow rs. e Knowledge is now, as founding fathers from Marshall to Schumpeter and beyond proposed, clearly driving firm competitiveness and economic evoluion. Scientific, t...

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