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Richard Shearmur, Christophe Carrincazeaux and David Doloreux

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Richard Shearmur, Christophe Carrincazeaux and David Doloreux

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Richard Shearmur, Christophe Carrincazeaux and David Doloreux

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Edited by Richard Shearmu, Christophe Carrincazeaux and David Doloreux

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Richard Shearmur, Christophe Carrincazeaux and David Doloreux

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Richard Shearmur, Christophe Carrincazeaux and David Doloreux

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Edited by Richard Shearmu, Christophe Carrincazeaux and David Doloreux

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Marie Ferru and Alain Rallet

Debate about the role of proximity in the innovation process appeared in the early 1990s and was at the core of a small research group composed of French researchers, some from the field of industrial economics and others from regional economics. The originality of the group’s work was therefore not the use of the word itself, but using it with its various meaning, as until then the notion had been understood only in terms of its geographic dimension. The question of the geography of innovation has remained one of the main issues in the work raised by the French School of Proximity. Twenty-five years later, how do we situate all these studies? The paper aims at examining the trajectory of these studies, the stage they have reached in their life cycle: rise, maturity or decline? Is there saturation or renewal? Burnout or resilience? It gives a periodization of studies on proximity based on the publications it has produced and details the specific content of the two periods that we define, before suggesting some avenues for renewal which may lead to a “rebound cycle”.

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Chris Gibson and Chris Brennan-Horley

Geographical clusters have become axiomatic in theories of creativity and innovation. Clustering is advantageous to firms to promote greater levels of innovation due to physical proximity and the networked relationships that are unleashed. Because of this, cluster theory has become a perennial feature in off-the-shelf urban development policy prescriptions rolled out across cities worldwide. The chapter seeks to provide a critique of this state of affairs, aimed at sobering the degree of enthusiasm to rush to clusters as the pre-eminent policy solution. First, the authors revisit key thinkers in economic geography who theorized agglomerating tendencies as a key dynamic within a framework that encompasses centripetal and centrifugal geographic forces. Second, they illustrate the roles that underlying geography and history play in shaping the possibilities for agglomeration and dispersal of innovation activities. Two empirical examples from the authors’ previous work on the geography of creative industries are briefly revisited to illustrate. The first is a creative industries mapping project that sought to empirically document economic activity in Darwin, Australia, a small, highly suburbanized and physically remote city not normally associated with big city innovation. The second example is of bootmaking in El Paso, Texas. Drawing inspiration from recent critical, and grounded, work in evolutionary economic geography the authors argue that theorization of the geography of innovation must remain attuned to deeper run, geographically-contingent and cumulative-causal processes that shape present possibilities.

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Neil Bradford and Allison Bramwell

The spatial dynamics of regional innovation cannot be explained by the locational decisions of firms and workers alone. Globalization continues to put primacy on the relationship between public policy and the economic competitiveness of regions. Policy makers across the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries are preoccupied with ways to encourage knowledge-intensive regional growth, not just in places where it is already well established but also in those struggling for reinvention. Largely resourced by public policy, a complex mix of formal and informal institutions shapes the context in which much economic activity occurs. This chapter brings institutions ‘in’ to the discussion of regional economic development, drawing analytical attention to the multi-level nature of economic innovation and how the interplay among different levels of government and multiple public and private sector actors shapes regional development trajectories. The three intersecting themes of governance, scale and agency provide an analytical framework for examining the ways in which ‘top-down’ multi-level institutional structures and ‘bottom-up’ associational governance dynamics enable and constrain regional restructuring and innovation. Following a conceptual overview of the New Regionalism, we offer brief policy illustrations of these ‘ideas in action’, highlighting selected regional innovation programmes underway in the European Union, the United States, and Canada, three jurisdictions long known for government engagement with problems of regional decline and renewal.