The Handbook of Evolutionary Economic Geography
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The Handbook of Evolutionary Economic Geography

Edited by Ron Boschma and Ron Martin

This wide-ranging Handbook is the first major compilation of the theoretical and empirical research that is forging the new and exciting paradigm of evolutionary economic geography.
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Chapter 11: Evolutionary Economic Geography: Regional Systems of Innovation and High-tech Clusters

Philip Cooke and Carla de Laurentis


Philip Cooke and Carla de Laurentis 1. Introduction Evolutionary economic geography integrates numerous strands of heterodox spatial fields. Some parts of even ‘new neoclassical’ theory, such as increasing returns, aspects of endogeneity in growth processes, and notions of abiding spatial disequilibrium as the resultant of increasing returns to spatial scale (Krugman, 1995), provide interesting insights into why some regions are rich and others poor, to echo Malthus’s famous question of Ricardo (Landes, 1998). But this is all, for there are few other distinctive contributions to be made from that quarter. One sub-field of regional science that is more squarely compatible with an evolutionary approach is that dealing with regional innovation systems (Braczyk et al., 1998). It is avowedly neo-Schumpeterian, translating that author’s resolutely aspatial economist’s mode of analysis and bringing further life to it. Indeed, elsewhere it has been argued that one reason why it continually attracts fascination is that regional innovation systems analysis gave a boost to more general innovation systems thinking. This, according to Carlsson (2007), is the dominant innovation studies field since refereed articles began appearing in the mid-1990s (Cooke, 1992). The reason for this is explored in section 1 of the chapter, arguing that the conceptual perspective of industrial economics, often referred to as ‘industrial dynamics’ in the innovation studies literature, is vertical – down the sector, as it were, from the vertically integrated large firm to its suppliers and support organisations. In the old days of the ‘Industrial Age’ when multinationals evolved as vertically integrated behemoths,...

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