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Edited by Philip Cooke, Bjørn Asheim, Ron Boschma, Ron Martin, Dafna Schwartz and Franz Tödtling
Christophe Carrincazeaux and Marie Coris INTRODUCTION The idea that geographical concentration is essential in the dynamic process of innovation is widely shared. It has largely been assumed since the 1980s that agents must be close in order to innovate. The spatial agglomeration of innovative activities underpins the idea that there is a causal relationship between innovation processes and location. But correlation is obviously not causality. Thus, without denying the role of geographical proximity for innovation, it is necessary to understand this link better. The link between geographical proximity and innovation is one of the major issues addressed by the French School of Proximity since its origin (RERU, 1993). In this chapter, we try to synthesize the major proposals of the French School of Proximity. We firstly present the ‘proximist approach’ in order to define its specificities, particularly in relation to other approaches, such as new economic geography and the literature on ‘localized innovation systems’. Secondly, we outline the main contributions (both theoretical and empirical) of the French School of Proximity to the analysis of the relationship between proximity and innovation. Finally, we conclude with the unresolved debates and limits of the proximist approach. GEOGRAPHICAL PROXIMITY IN INNOVATION Two main explanations of the agglomeration of innovative activities can be distinguished in the economic literature: the first one is centred on externalities and the second one on local institutions. The French School of Proximity follows these lines but utilizes normal assumptions on the nature and geographical extent of externalities and widely accepted...
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