The field of regional development is subject to an ever increasing multiplicity of concepts and theories seeking to explain uneven development across regional contexts. One concept and theoretical tool that has endured and remained keenly discussed since the 1990s is ‘regional competitiveness’. Indeed, the rise of the concept has led to many frameworks and applications emerging and being employed in various contexts. Such variety has been both a blessing and a curse, with the notion of the ‘competitiveness of regions’ remaining an area of contested theoretical debate, especially arguments concerning the extent to which places actually compete for resources and markets. This chapter presents a broad overview of the evolution of regional competitiveness thinking, and aims to make clear the connections across a variety of contemporary regional development theories. The chapter firstly introduces the regional competitiveness concept and discusses its close association with schools of endogenous growth and development theory. The potential for measuring regional competitiveness is considered, before the chapter turns its attention to providing an introduction to some key contemporary theoretical perspectives on regional development. In particular the ideas of regional growth systems, institutions, ‘upstream’ behavioural theories of regional development concerning both cultural and psychological explanations, and concepts of regional ‘resilience’ and ‘well-being’ are considered. The chapter concludes by considering how the differing theoretical perspectives can be integrated, as well as providing an outline of the volume as a whole.
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Robert Huggins and Piers Thompson
Leïla Kebir, Véronique Peyrache-Gadeau, Olivier Crevoisier and Pedro Costa
As an introduction to this book, this chapter provides insights on the evolution of innovation patterns, and in particular when dealing with sustainable issues. It highlights the relationship between territory and sustainable innovations and identifies the relationships that such innovations (re)build with territory, as well as the forms of localization that they induce. It presents the four dimensions of sustainable innovation identified in the case studies presented in the following chapters: product, institutional, territory and flagship dimensions. Finally the chapter concludes with some considerations on the innovative milieu concept in regard to the present context of innovation and territorial development.
Christian Livi, Pedro Araujo and Olivier Crevoisier
Based on two case studies, this chapter studies the articulation between sustainable innovations and territories. Using the conventionalist approach, and in particular the idea of the sustainability convention, this chapter analyses the territorial, economic and social dynamics of sustainable innovations in Western Switzerland’s photovoltaic industry and sustainable finance. The main result is that, contrary to ‘classical milieus’ where the innovative efforts are mainly on the supply side, sustainable innovations redefine considerably the relations with consumers, users and even citizens. The chapter concludes with a reflection on the concept of innovative milieu and its cognitive, financial and discursive aspects.