Handbook of Regions and Competitiveness
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Handbook of Regions and Competitiveness

Contemporary Theories and Perspectives on Economic Development

Edited by Robert Huggins and Piers Thompson

The aim of this Handbook is to take stock of regional competitiveness and complementary concepts as a means of presenting a state-of-the-art discussion of the contemporary theories, perspectives and empirical explanations that help make sense of the determinants of uneven development across regions. Drawing on an international field of leading scholars, the book is assembled and organized so that readers can first learn about the theoretical underpinnings of regional competitiveness and development theory, before moving on to deeper discussions of key factors and principal elements, the emergence of allied concepts, empirical applications, and the policy context.
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Chapter 24: Regional competitiveness, policy transfer and smart specialization

Philip McCann and Raquel Ortega-Argilés


The notion of competiveness is not without its detractors. However, it has evolved largely outside of orthodox economics in the engineering and management disciplines, and emerged primarily as a systems type of perspective and approach which is also central to modern analyses of both entrepreneurship and innovation. Over time the concept has become increasingly adopted within mainstream economics and is regarded as having particular relevance in the context of regions and geography. The concept has now become a central pillar of many economic policy narratives within the international arena and also plays an important role in the international policy transfer agenda. This is particularly so in the case of the European Union smart specialization agenda, which although emerging from slightly different origins and emphasizing different priorities and mechanisms still follows many similar or related principles to those highlighted in the competiveness literature. This chapter examines the evolution of the concept of competitiveness and discusses its increasing application with regard to identifying the underlying economic performance of regions and the appropriate and relevant policy settings which might be employed in order to enhance such performance. Its importance in partly influencing and shaping some of the themes of the smart specialization agenda of the European Union Cohesion Policy are discussed.

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