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Edited by Philip Cooke, Bjørn Asheim, Ron Boschma, Ron Martin, Dafna Schwartz and Franz Tödtling
Chapter 11: Regional Innovation and Diversity
11 Regional innovation and diversity Simona Iammarino INTRODUCTION Much of the literature on agglomeration economies has dealt with the question of whether a specific regional industrial structure enhances knowledge diffusion, innovation and local economic growth. The question at the core of these studies is whether firms learn more from local firms in the same industry – that is, regional specialization; or from local firms in other industries – regional diversity. In other words, are the most innovative and fast-growing regions sectorally specialized or diversified? A conclusive answer to such a question has not been found – and indeed cannot be. In fact, an evolutionary interpretation of these issues indicates that there is no univocal causal relationship between regional industrial structure and economic growth, and that the links between diversity and innovation at the spatial level are far more complex than assumed by a mechanicistic view of the ‘structure–conduct–performance’ type. Indeed, regions show degrees of diversity within and across their boundaries because of the evolutionary nature of the technological capabilities of firms and other economic actors, of technological regimes underlying industrial structures, and of integration and alignment of (local and non-local) knowledge flows at the regional system level. The evolutionary path of such key factors is strongly influenced by the social, cultural and institutional features of the region, giving rise to spatial diversity at two different levels: interregional, that is, creating specialized as well as diversified regions; and intraregional, that is, leading over time to either more specialization or more diversification. Even...
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