National and Regional Patterns of Convergence and Divergence
Edited by John Adams and Francesco Pigliaru
Chapter 9: European 'regional clubs': do they exist, and where are they heading? On economic and technological differences between European regions
Page 236 9. European ‘regional clubs’: do they exist, and where are they heading? On economic and technological differences between European regions Bart Verspagen* 9.1 INTRODUCTION: TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGE IN REGIONS Economists have always identified technological change as the prime factor behind economic growth. There are, however, clear differences between different ways in which economists from different theoretical perspectives have looked at the way in which technological change ‘works’. In traditional growth theory (Solow, 1956, 1970), technology is supplied as an exogenous public good. Countries, regions or firms are seen as entities, which, at least in the long run, can all make use of the same technology. Not surprisingly, the prediction of this theory is that growth paths of different countries or regions will (unconditionally) converge to each other. In the recent socalled ‘new growth theory’, technology becomes a partly private and partly public good. For example, in Romer (1990), technological inventions can be patented by firms, which gives them the exclusive right to produce new (intermediate) goods, but, at the same time, inventions generate new ‘general knowledge’, which is freely available to all firms. This approach typically leads to ‘endogenization’ of steadystate growth rates of countries and, hence, convergence becomes ‘conditional’ on the factors endogenously determining this growth rate. In the view of a group of economists identifying themselves as ‘Schumpeterians’ (for example, Dosi, 1988), technological change is characterized by strong tendencies for cumulativeness, implying that not all firms (or countries, or regions) are equally well placed to...
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