Chapter 15 Quality and space: a framework for quality- based regional competitiveness
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Regional development, growth and competitiveness research has to a large extent come to focus on innovation and technological change. However, it is apparent that some economic activities remain competitive despite little or no innovation. To explore this, the chapter focuses on the role of ‘quality’, or quality processes, which lead to a ‘quality promise’ that is experienced, constructed, mediated and negotiated by systems of actors in specific spatial contexts. Few studies have seriously recognized the relationship between space and quality, especially in explaining global and regional competitiveness. The aim of this chapter, therefore, is to develop a theoretical framework for identifying and analysing quality processes creating and recreating understandings, perceptions and experiences of a quality promise. These processes are deeply rooted in space, stimulated by localized learning, which in turn facilitates place-based branding. Adding quality to the discourse of regional competitiveness may complement a traditional view criticized for treating growth as equivalent to regional prosperity, and thus contributing to regional, urban, and rural resilience and sustainability. Hence, quality is not only pertinent for development in advanced economies, but could also be part of development and progress in developing regions and countries. Additionally, a quality-based regional competiveness framework provides an increased focus on traditional (craft) products and processes. As such it may offer an alternative or additional way of upgrading local and regional products in global production networks, while encouraging local uniqueness and global adaptability.

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