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Edited by Philip Cooke, Bjørn Asheim, Ron Boschma, Ron Martin, Dafna Schwartz and Franz Tödtling
Chapter 17: Regional Knowledge Networks
Michael Steiner Knowledge has long been acknowledged as the major source of regional economic development and growth; originally conceived as an exogenous factor it has from an evolutionary and institutional perspective been interpreted as an endogenous element of economic activity, thus recognizing that knowledge changes economic activity and economic activity changes knowledge (for recent surveys regarding the links between innovation, knowledge and regional development, and addressing subtle questions of top-down and bottom-up perspectives, see Howells, 2005, and Johansson and Karlsson, 2009). This interdependency leads to the necessity of new forms of economic institutions where the dichotomy between market and hierarchy is challenged by hybrids in the form of networks. Networks facilitate frequent and proximate relations between economic actors that can contribute to the development of a shared cognitive frame – they thus serve to integrate the positive externalities of innovation, technological knowledge and development activities (Maskell and Malmberg, 1999). The emphasis lies on the interactive character of innovation which involves the sharing and the exchange of different forms of knowledge between actors (Lawson and Lorenz, 1999) – knowledge and competence is developed interactively and within subgroups of a regional economy (Lundvall, 2002). This interaction has often been interpreted also as a result of a ‘associativerelational’ mode of organization – networks then are a specific form of ‘associative governance’ (Cooke, 1998; Cooke and Morgan, 1998; Morgan, 2004). The recent debate has concentrated on the economic character of such networks, stemming from the necessity of coordinating institutions for knowledge generation and diffusion on the one...
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