Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login

Evolutionary economics and regional policy


Author Info

  • Jan G. Lambooy

    (Faculty of Geographical Sciences, University of Utrecht, PO Box 80 115, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands)

  • Ron A. Boschma

    (Faculty of Geographical Sciences, University of Utrecht, PO Box 80 115, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands)


Our principal objective is to formulate some possible links between evolutionary economics and regional policy, a topic that has not (yet) been covered by the literature. To begin with, we outline what we take to be the essential arguments and components of evolutionary economics. More in particular, we focus attention on the economic foundation of technology policy from an evolutionary perspective, and how this deviates from the so-called `equilibrium' rationale. Then, we examine in what way evolutionary insights may be helpful for regional policy matters. Our emphasis is to investigate the degrees of freedom policy makers may have to determine the future development of regions. This is done by distinguishing between two ideal-types of regional development based on evolutionary principles. When evolutionary mechanisms like `chance' and `increasing returns' are involved in the spatial formation of new economic activities, there are several, quite contradictory, options for policy makers. On the one hand, the importance of `chance events' implies that multiple potential outcomes of location are quite thinkable. This is a principal problem for regional policy because new development paths can not be planned or even foreseen. On the other hand, policy makers may have a considerable role to play. Since space exercises only a minor influence on the location of new economic activities, there is room for policy makers to act and to build-up a favourable local environment. In this respect, `urbanisation economies' may offer advantages of flexibility secured by a diversity of activities that may prevent a process of `negative lock-in'. When evolutionary mechanisms like `selection' and `path dependency' largely determine the geography of innovation, the options for policy makers to change fundamentally the course of regional development are expected to be rather limited. Regional policy is likely to fail when local strategies deviate considerably from the local context. In such circumstances, policy makers have to account for the fact that adaptation to change is largely constrained by the boundaries of the spatial system laid down in the past. However, this also implies that the potential impact of regional policy may be quite large when the policy objectives are strongly embedded in the surrounding environment.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL:
Download Restriction: Access to the full text of the articles in this series is restricted

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal The Annals of Regional Science.

Volume (Year): 35 (2001)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 113-131

as in new window
Handle: RePEc:spr:anresc:v:35:y:2001:i:1:p:113-131

Note: Received: September 1998/Accepted: January 2000
Contact details of provider:
Web page:
More information through EDIRC

Order Information:

Related research


Other versions of this item:


No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.


Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page.


This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.


Access and download statistics


When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:spr:anresc:v:35:y:2001:i:1:p:113-131. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Guenther Eichhorn) or (Christopher F Baum).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.