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Ben Spigel

Researchers have long acknowledged the importance of culture in the innovation process. However, while culture is well integrated into frameworks such as Regional Innovation Systems (RIS), the actual processes through which cultural outlooks influence innovative activities is still poorly understood. Beyond this, culture is frequently viewed in an overly simplified way in which only one cultural attribute (such as ethnicity or geography) is seen as a deterministic force in the innovation process. The chapter provides a sympathetic critique of the ways in which culture is employed in RIS research and suggests that the work of Pierre Bourdieu is useful as an alternative to understand the role of overlapping and often confluent cultural outlooks within regions. This framework views innovation as a bundle of practices that actors employ based on their position within multiple, overlapping ‘fields’ of power relations and norms. The framework allows for a more nuanced appreciation for the role of culture that acknowledges the role of multiple sources of cultural influence.

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Helen Lawton Smith

The entrepreneurship and economic development agenda is one that is both academic and political. Places grow because they generate new firms. Underpinning the idea of entrepreneurship-led growth is the supposition that entrepreneurship can be stimulated at the regional level by policy intervention. A dilemma for policy makers, however, is the persistence of entrepreneurial regions independently of politics. To address this problem, the European Union has introduced the European Entrepreneurial Region (EER) project. The EER ‘is a project that identifies and rewards EU regions which show an outstanding and innovative entrepreneurial policy strategy, irrespective of their size, wealth and competences. The regions with the most credible, forward-thinking and promising vision plan are granted the label “European Entrepreneurial Region” (EER) for a specific year.’ However, in the face of more firms, more jobs, wealth creation and lowering unemployment, there is still a lack of clear evidence of the impact of enterprise policies. The chapter considers how regions become entrepreneurial and which organizations are dominant in shaping visions and coordinating entrepreneurial activity. The high-tech entrepreneurial regions of Oxfordshire and Cambridgeshire in the UK are used to illustrate, even in apparently similar regions, the distinctive differences in how the entrepreneurial region concept is developed and enacted at the local level.

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Chun Yang

Drawing upon the regional innovation systems (RIS) approach in the globalizing economy, the chapter examines the evolution of regional innovation systems in China, with special emphasis on emerging indigenous innovation in Shenzhen, China’s first Special Economic Zone located in the Pearl River Delta. The transformation of innovation policies in China is explored, particularly in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis, through the development of state-designated strategic emerging industries and subsequent effects on the technological dynamisms in Shenzhen. Particular attention is paid to the emergence of indigenous innovation as regional innovation systems evolve. The chapter sheds light on the emerging paradigm shift of state innovation policy towards indigenous innovation with a focus on domestic firms. Notwithstanding this new focus, the empirical experience in Shenzhen indicates that indigenous innovation focused on domestic firms may unnecessarily exclude the participation of trans-national corporations.

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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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Richard Shearmur, Christophe Carrincazeaux and David Doloreux

Many key ideas and concepts that underpin our understanding of the geography of innovation were developed in the 1980s and early 1990s. They have in common their reference to a world of limited mobility and expensive communications. Furthermore, they were developed without fully theorizing geography: it is the innovation process and firm behaviour that have been theorized, leaving geographical concepts relatively unexplored. In the chapter the authors outline some of the limits of the current way that the geography of innovation is understood. First, they argue that geography should not be approached as a canvas upon which innovation occurs, but needs to be problematized and theorized. Second, we argue that there are ambiguities – or confusions – in the object and purpose of research: if the reasons for studying the geography of innovation were better articulated, and if the type of innovative process being examined were clarified, many apparently irreconcilable observations and ideas would be found to be complementary. Finally, the authors highlight the contextuality of geographic thought and concepts: each researcher brings to the table his or her own cultural biases and beliefs, and these colour the emphasis put on particular aspects of the interconnection between space and innovation.

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Cristina Chaminade, Claudia De Fuentes, Gouya Harirchi and Monica Plechero

The chapter discusses the spatial aspects of the increased globalization of innovation, analysing both the region’s role in influencing the propensity of actors to engage and to play different roles in global innovation networks (GINs). Until now, different concepts such as global value chain (GVC), global production network (GPN) and GIN have been used to explain the increase globalization of innovation activities. The authors provide a critical overview of these concepts. The involvement of new actors (not just multinationals) from different locations (not just from developed economies) reveal the limitations of frameworks such as GVC and GPN in explaining the structure and dynamics of global networks. The chapter highlights how the concept of GIN, when properly addressed, can lead to a better understanding of the micro and meso dynamics of the new phenomena that arise from the globalization of innovation activities.

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Jannika Mattes

This chapter is concerned with the way multinational companies (MNCs) organize the internal and external geographical setup of their innovation projects. The core thesis of this chapter is that innovation is socially embedded, which is why the activities involved cannot take place anywhere. An empirical example shows that neither internal nor external geographical constellations are stable and uniform within the whole MNC. Instead, by differentiating between projects and functional arenas, the selective and dynamic aspects of the geographical setup of corporate innovation are being displayed. Indeed, MNCs have to deal with an inherent spatial tension: on the one hand, they are active in multiple countries and consequently disperse their activities; on the other hand, the need to control and coordinate makes concentrated settings attractive. This refers particularly to strategically important and complex tasks such as innovation projects. At the same time, corporate innovation does not occur independently of the external environment. For this external embeddedness spatial characteristics again play an important role. It is therefore worthwhile to look at innovation projects of MNCs combining their internal and external dimensions.

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Roberta Comunian, Alessandra Faggian and Sarah Jewell

Over the last few decades there has been considerable research on knowledge economies. Within this broad field, research on the value of digital technologies and creative industries have attracted academics and policy makers because of the complexity of their development, supply chains and models of production. In particular, many have recognized the difficulty in capturing the role that digital technologies and innovation play within the creative industries. Digital technologies are embedded in the production and market structures of creative industries and are also partially distinct and discernible from them. They also seem to play a key role in innovation relating to access and delivery of creative content. The chapter explores the role played by digital technologies, focusing on a key aspect of their development and implementation: human capital. Using student micro data collected by the Higher Education Statistical Agency (HESA) in the United Kingdom, the authors investigate the location determinants and other characteristics of graduates who enter the creative industries, specifically comparing graduates in the creative arts and graduates from digital technology subjects. They highlight patterns of geographical specialization, but also how some contexts seem better able to integrate creativity and innovation into the workforce. The chapter deals specifically with understanding whether these skills are equally embedded across the creative industries or are concentrated in specific sub-sectors. Furthermore, it explores the role that creative graduates play in each sub-sector, their financial rewards and the geographical determinants of employment outcomes.

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Neil Lee

Innovation and creativity are seen as important drivers of urban or regional economic growth. Yet, there is now increasing concern about the consequences of innovation in a city or region. The chapter considers these issues and the potential impact of innovation on inequality. It first considers the link between innovation, creativity and inequality within cities and regions and the evidence on the extent to which the benefits of innovation-led growth are evenly shared. Next, it considers the current academic and policy agendas around creativity and the challenges faced in cities pursuing strategies based on creativity. It argues that while the consequences of innovation may be difficult, the consequences of too little innovation may be worse: this is a classic case of the dilemma between equity versus efficiency.

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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.