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Innovation policies for regional structural change: Combining actor-based and system-based strategies

Isaksen, Arne and Tödtling, Franz and Trippl, Michaela (2016) Innovation policies for regional structural change: Combining actor-based and system-based strategies. SRE - Discussion Papers, 2016/05. WU Vienna University of Economics and Business, Vienna.

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Abstract

There seems to be a widespread consensus in academic and policy circles that the promotion of current economic strongholds and specialisations is no longer sufficient in order to ensure the long-term competitiveness of regions. New policy concepts such as smart specialisation emphasize the need to break with past practices and design and implement innovation strategies that boost regional structural change, i.e. policies that support regional economies to renew their industrial base by diversifying into new but related economic fields or creating entirely new sectors. This new strategic orientation for regional innovation policies has essentially been informed by evolutionary economic geography, which has offered novel insights into how regional economies transform over time and how new growth paths come into being. Applying a regional innovation system (RIS) perspective, recent work has enhanced our understanding of how such processes of regional economic change vary across different types of regions. RIS differ enormously in their capacity to develop new growth paths due to pronounced differences in endogenous potentials and varying abilities to attract and absorb exogenous sources for new path development. The policy implications following from these recent findings on the uneven geography of new path development have hardly been thoroughly discussed so far. General claims such as the need to avoid "one size fits all" strategies and develop place-based policies for regional industrial change remain vague and provide little guidance in this regard. The aim of this paper is to identify opportunities and limitations of regional innovation policies to promote new path development in different types of RIS. We distinguish between (1) organisationally thick and diversified RIS, (2) organisationally thick and specialized RIS and (3) thin RIS. Regarding path development, a distinction is drawn between the extenstion, modernization, importation, branching and creation of industrial paths, reflecting various degrees of radicalness of change in regional economies. The paper offers a conceptual analysis of conditions and influences that enable and constrain new path development in each RIS type and outlines the contours of policy strategies that are suitable for promoting new path development in those different types of RIS. Our point of departure is the well-known distinction between system-based and actor-based policy approaches. The former aims to improve the functioning of the RIS by targeting system failures, promoting local and non-local knowledge flows and adapting the organisational and institutional set-up of the RIS. Actor-based strategies, in contrast, support entrepreneurs and innovation projects by firms and other stakeholders. We argue that both strategies will have only a limited impact on regional economic change when applied alone. However, if they are combined, they are well suited to promote new path development. The paper discusses which specific combinations of system-based and actor-based policy strategies matter for different types of RIS. (authors' abstract)

Item Type: Paper
Divisions: Departments > Sozioökonomie > Multi-Level Governance and Development
Depositing User: ePub Administrator
Date Deposited: 03 Nov 2016 11:38
Last Modified: 03 Nov 2016 11:38
FIDES Link: https://bach.wu.ac.at/d/research/results/78810/
URI: http://epub.wu.ac.at/id/eprint/5225

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