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 25: Worlds of Production: Conventions and the Microfoundations of Regional Economies

Peter Sunley


Peter Sunley INTRODUCTION The regional worlds of production framework seeks to explain the wide and resolute diversity of regional economies. It emerged in economic geography during the 1990s and emphasized the need to understand the conventions and shared understandings that reduce uncertainty and allow economic agents to coordinate their activities. While the approach did not attract a large number of advocates, it nevertheless had a profound impact through its emphasis on the cultural dimensions of economic activity and its claim that dynamic regional economies do not benefit just from traditional agglomeration economies but also from various forms of untraded interdependencies. More recent approaches have developed and extended these important, if somewhat elusive, topics by asking how routines and conventions change through time, how they are related to individual behaviour and cognition, how they shape innovation and creativity, and how we can better integrate macro, meso and micro institutional perspectives. While the concept of worlds of production itself has not been adopted widely and explicitly developed in economic geography, it would be a mistake to think that its concerns are declining in importance and anachronistic. The difficult issues that the concept raised remain central to explaining why and how regional economies remain distinctive and why patterns of growth and regional specialization remain both pronounced and fine-grained in a globalizing economy. THE WORLDS OF PRODUCTION APPROACH The worlds of production approach was partly a reaction to the notion that industrial organization was shifting from a dominant Fordist method of mass production to...

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