Handbook on the Geographies of Innovation
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Handbook on the Geographies of Innovation

Edited by Richard Shearmu, Christophe Carrincazeaux and David Doloreux

The geography of innovation is changing. First, it is increasingly understood that innovative firms and organizations exhibit a wide variety of strategies, each being differently attuned to diverse geographic contexts. Second, and concomitantly, the idea that cities, clusters and physical proximity are essential for innovation is evolving under the weight of new theorizing and empirical evidence. In this Handbook we gather 28 chapters by scholars with widely differing views on what constitutes the geography of innovation. The aim of the Handbook is to break with the many ideas and concepts that emerged during the course of the 1980s and 1990s, and to fully take into account the new reality of the internet, mobile communication technologies, personal mobility and globalization. This does not entail the rejection of well-established and supported ideas, but instead allows for a series of new ideas and authors to enter the arena and provoke debate.
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Chapter 12: Four commonly held beliefs about the geography of scientific activities

Michel Grossetti, Denis Eckert, Marion Maisonobe and Josselin Tallec


Recent years have seen policies of ‘scientific development’ develop in various countries. These policies aim mainly at differentiating the means allocated to universities (or other institutions) based on ‘diagnoses’ and assessments rooted in beliefs concerning the spatial dimension of higher education activities and research. These representations may be regarded as ‘commonly held beliefs’ governed by the idea of an inevitable increase in hierarchical differentiations between cities, the existence of ‘critical mass’ effects imposed by a strengthening globalization, and ‘competitive’ scientific activity. Based on bibliometric research, our results show that those beliefs are often wrong. Though scientific activity is indeed highly centralized, the current trend is towards diversification and de-concentration rather than towards a reinforcement of the most important centers. The spatial concentration of researchers has no specific effect on their individual productivity. National contexts are not fading; they are merely being combined with the growth of international collaborations in a global context characterized by the decline of publications signed by a single person or a single team.

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