Contemporary Theories and Perspectives on Economic Development
Edited by Robert Huggins and Piers Thompson
Chapter 7: Regional competitiveness: connecting an old concept with new goals
The term ‘competitiveness’ has been used in conceptually distinct ways at the firm, regional and national level, and after reviewing existing concepts at the national level this chapter introduces a new definition of regional competitiveness, adapting definitions used in the academic literature. Specifically, it assessess ‘outcome competitiveness’ not in reference to gross domestic product (GDP) or employment but under the new perspective of a more socially inclusive and ecologically sustainable growth path, as envisaged in the WWWforEurope research programme, in which 33 European research groups are taking part. Evaluating competitiveness requires both an input assessment (costs, productivity, economic structure, capabilities) and an outcome assessment. The chapter defines regional outcome competitiveness as the ability of a region to deliver Beyond GDP goals. For regions in industrialized countries, this ability depends on innovation, education, institutions, social cohesion and ecological ambition. Given this new perspective (of broader Beyond GDP goals), social investments and ecological ambitions should not be considered costs, but rather drivers of a ‘high-road competitiveness’. This is compatible with a new innovation policy fostering non-technical innovations and a new industrial policy supporting societal goals. Applying this concept to European regions, the chapter shows which regions take the ‘high road’ to competitiveness and compares results with the existing literature.
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