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Chapter 8: Innovation and Productivity: Local Competitiveness and the Role of Space
8 Innovation and productivity: local competitiveness and the role of space Roberta Capello INTRODUCTION Innovation, or in more modern terms the smart use of advanced knowledge, is regarded as one of the key drivers of economic growth in the knowledge-driven society. Three different interpretative approaches of innovation and local growth can be distinguished according to the determinants that explain the different degrees of regional innovation, namely: ● ● ● A sectoral and functional approach which foresees innovation as the result of the presence of innovative sectors or functions. In this approach, physical proximity among actors facilitates the exchange of tacit knowledge, generating localized knowledge spillovers (see Stefano Breschi’s Chapter 10 in this Handbook). A structural approach that interprets regional innovation as the result of the presence of structural elements in a region that make the area prone to innovation. A cognitive approach, that interprets innovation as the result of the presence of collective learning processes and socialization to the risk of innovation (that is, territorialized relations among subjects operating in geographical and social proximity), and of the existence of rules, codes and norms of behaviour which: (1) facilitate cooperation among actors and therefore the socialization of knowledge; and (2) assist economic actors (individual people, firms and local institutions) to develop organizational forms which support interactive learning processes. These approaches developed in parallel, starting from the 1980s when a scientific wave of reflections on the role of innovation in economic growth pervasively influenced all branches of economics (industrial, regional, traditional macroeconomic economics). Within their...
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