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 19: Regional Cultural Economy: Evolution and Innovation

Al James


Al James INTRODUCTION Increasingly the . . . cultural dimension is critical for defining and understanding the dynamics of regions. Regional economies consist of more than just aggregations, or even networks of firms, and their employees; they are also constituted by the cultural traditions and institutional structures that facilitate and regulate economic behaviour. (Wolfe, 1997, 4) It is widely accepted that fundamental changes within advanced economies since the 1970s herald a new era of capitalist economic development. Variously conceptualized in terms of a shift to a post-Fordist regime of accumulation, the Fifth Kondratiev, the knowledge economy or the new economy, whatever the label used the emergent geography of this new order is marked by a decisive reagglomeration of production. Characteristic in their high rates of technological learning and innovation, the workings of these ‘regional industrial complexes’, ‘new industrial spaces’, or ‘new industrial districts’ have become a fixation for policy-makers and academics keen to explore their potential as tools to stimulate economic growth. In particular, scholars have drawn on the work of Alfred Marshall (1890 [1952]) on nineteenth-century industrial districts, in which he theorized a ‘triad of localisation externalities’ that develop as firms collocate spatially (see Figure 19.1). By many producers sharing the fixed costs of and access to common factors of production – land, labour, energy, transportation and other infrastructures – Marshall argued that the supply of such resources is enhanced as capital and labour migrate to these areas to take advantage of the larger combined markets for their services. Localization externalities therefore allow small...

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