Handbook of Regional Innovation and Growth
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Handbook of Regional Innovation and Growth

Edited by Philip Cooke, Bjørn Asheim, Ron Boschma, Ron Martin, Dafna Schwartz and Franz Tödtling

Today, economic growth is widely understood to be conditioned by productivity increases which are, in turn, profoundly affected by innovation. This volume explores these key relationships between innovation and growth, bringing together experts from both fields to compile a unique Handbook.
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Chapter 18: Regional Competitiveness: From Endowments to Externalities to Evolution

Ron Martin


Ron Martin Regional competitiveness lacks a clear, unequivocal and agreed meaning within the academic literature. It is perhaps not surprising therefore that the policy discourse around regional competitiveness is somewhat confused. (Bristow, 2005, 289) INTRODUCTION: THE ‘COMPETITIVENESS IMPERATIVE’ Recent years have seen a surge of academic and policy attention devoted to the notion of ‘competitiveness’: nations, regions and cities, we are told, have no option but to strive to be economically competitive in order to survive in today’s marketplace. This credo of competitiveness has attracted a veritable host of believers and followers. Economists and experts everywhere have elevated ‘competitiveness’ to the status of a natural law of the modern capitalist economy. Policy-makers at all levels have been swept up in this competitiveness fever: to assess a country’s competitiveness and to devise policies to enhance it have become officially institutionalized tasks in most of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations (Policy Studies, 2008). At the same time, city and regional authorities have themselves become increasingly occupied with knowing the relative ‘competitive standing’ of their local economies compared with that of others, and with devising policy strategies to move their area up the ‘competitiveness league table’. Why has this concern with ‘competitiveness’ become so prominent in policy-making circles? There is little doubt that the popularity of the notion has been inextricably linked to what is viewed as accelerating globalization and technological change. Globalization is seen not only as an ineluctable process, but also as one that brings with it...

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