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Franz Huber and Rune Dahl Fitjar

The chapter reflects on the limitations of the discourse on networks in innovative clusters in light of the author’s own empirical findings and associated research. The conceptual part of the chapter stresses the importance of distinguishing between personal and formal networks, and between stages of network mechanisms. It also stresses the need for conceptual sensitivity towards individualized networks that may go beyond coherent communities. The authors reflect on weaknesses in previous research, and then elaborate on reasons why networks in clusters can be limited due to lack of perceived need or lack of opportunity to benefit from local networks. Subsequently, they show that spatial proximity tends to be important for the formation of networks, while it tends to be less important for actual knowledge exchanges. In fact, within the context of Norway, the authors illustrate that it is international networks that are related to innovativeness. Finally, they clarify the role of various types of proximities for innovation by finding empirical evidence for the so-called Goldilocks principle: a medium level of proximity delivers the best innovative returns to collaboration, while collaboration with partners that are either too close or too far may not be beneficial for innovation.

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Heidi Wiig Aslesen and Arne Isaksen

The chapter studies the relationship between companies’ knowledge bases and their sources, channels and geography of innovation-relevant knowledge. It questions whether some types of cluster initiative are too oriented towards establishing regional cooperation. Indeed, regional clusters and innovation systems assume that geographical agglomerations and regional cooperation stimulate firms’ innovation activity and value creation. However, companies are becoming increasingly integrated into global value chains and knowledge networks, suggesting that extra-regional resources are also important for innovation. Further, the geography of knowledge sources also varies between the types of knowledge that are central to firms’ innovation activity. The analysis shows that firms have innovation collaboration with many different types of partners, and that firms with different knowledge bases use partners differently. Analytical knowledge firms have more cooperation with universities, technology centres and suppliers than firms with a symbolic knowledge base. The geography of knowledge sources also varies as firms with an analytical knowledge base collaborate internationally, while companies in symbolic industries collaborate more with proximate actors. Informal channels for obtaining innovation-relevant knowledge are frequently used by firms, and the source of informal knowledge also varies between firms with different knowledge bases. Based on this, cluster initiatives should have a national and international perspective, and the design of cluster policy should enter a new ‘radical phase’ that takes more into account the geography of innovation sources and types of innovation channels of relevance to different cluster types.

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Juan-Luis Klein and Diane-Gabrielle Tremblay

The chapter presents a survey of the main theoretical elements, debates and strategic perspectives on the link between cultural creation and the building of social cohesion in the city. The question addressed is: How can a cultural creation-oriented approach contribute to making the city more cohesive while contributing to its overall economic and social development? The chapter is divided into three sections. The first defines the main concepts and presents the main challenges. The second section provides a summary of the main debates on creation and creativity in the city and offers some innovative proposals. The third section sets the groundwork for a city development approach that would allow building a more cohesive city on the basis of cultural creation. The chapter shows that creation can be a collective way of enhancing the quality of life for all citizens and this calls for innovative forms of governance.

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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.