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Chapter 18: An Evolutionary Approach to Localized Learning and Spatial Clustering
18 An evolutionary approach to localized learning and spatial clustering Anders Malmberg and Peter Maskell 1. Introduction Economic geographers approach the spatial aspects of economic development from different angles. They pursue macro analyses of the economic growth of spatial entities such as cities, regions or nations. But they also conduct micro- or meso-level analyses of the development of firms or systems of related firms, such as industries, networks or clusters. In either case, the main concern is often the relation between economic specialization on the one hand, and economic performance on the other. Thus, macro-level economic geography departs from questions like: Why do some regions (cities, nations) prosper while others don’t? Why is there regional specialization – between as well as within countries – and how are such patterns reproduced? Natural resources and demography have an impact, alongside institutional settings, knowledge structures and the general macroeconomic environment. The most influential models dealing with uneven regional development emphasize processes of cumulative causation and the fact that a region that, for one reason or the other, has taken the lead will gradually tend to strengthen its position, partly at the expense of surrounding, less developed regions (Hirschman, 1958; Krugman, 1991; Myrdal, 1957; Ullman, 1958). Micro- and meso-level analyses, on the other hand, focus on the location of the firm and ask questions like: How is the performance and competitiveness of a firm affected by the conditions that prevail in its immediate environment? Why do similar and related firms tend to agglomerate in certain places...
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