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Constructing Regional Advantage and Smart Specialization: Comparison of Two European Policy Concepts

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  • Ron Boschma

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Abstract

This paper discusses two influential policy concepts at the European level that aim to promote economic diversification of regions, that is the Constructing Regional Advantage concept (CRA) and the Smart Specialization concept (SS). Both approaches are in favour of policy intervention but defy ‘one-size-fits-all’ policies as well as ‘stand-alone’ policies that create new activities in regions from scratch. Although ‘picking-the-winner’ policies are rejected, both policy frameworks identify and prioritise ‘promising’ targets for policy intervention, but they do so differently. The SS concept organizes this identification process through entrepreneurial discovery in which entrepreneurs select the domains of future specialization. The CRA concept focuses on identifying related variety and bottlenecks that prevent related industries in regions to connect and interact. Crucial in both frameworks is the strong involvement of local stakeholders. However, both approaches also agree that rent-seeking behavior, corruption and lock-in are potential threats to effective policy making. To avoid this, both are in favor of an open and inclusive approach and a policy implementation process that is closely monitored. The paper argues that the two policy concepts can provide useful inputs to develop a smart and comprehensive policy design that focuses on true economic renewal in regions and that avoids rent-seeking behaviour of vested players.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Utrecht University, Section of Economic Geography in its series Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) with number 1322.

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Length: 16 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2013
Date of revision: Nov 2013
Handle: RePEc:egu:wpaper:1322

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Keywords: smart specialization; constructing regional advantage; Regional Cohesion Policy;

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  1. Kevin Morgan, 2013. "The regional state in the era of Smart Specialisation," EKONOMIAZ, Gobierno Vasco / Eusko Jaurlaritza / Basque Government, vol. 83(02), pages 103-126.
  2. Frank Neffke & Martin Henning & Martin Ron Boschma, 2009. "How do regions diversify over time? Industry relatedness and the development of new growth paths in regions," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 0916, Utrecht University, Section of Economic Geography, revised Oct 2009.
  3. Hausmann, Ricardo & Rodrik, Dani, 2003. "Economic development as self-discovery," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 603-633, December.
  4. Ron Boschma & Asier Minondo & Mikel Navarro, 2010. "Related variety and regional growth in Spain," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 1012, Utrecht University, Section of Economic Geography, revised Oct 2010.
  5. Todtling, Franz & Trippl, Michaela, 2005. "One size fits all?: Towards a differentiated regional innovation policy approach," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(8), pages 1203-1219, October.
  6. Bj�rn Asheim & Ron Boschma & Philip Cooke, 2011. "Constructing Regional Advantage: Platform Policies Based on Related Variety and Differentiated Knowledge Bases," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(7), pages 893-904.
  7. Philip McCann & Raquel Ortega-Argilés, 2011. "Smart specialisation, regional growth and applications to EU cohesion policy," Working Papers 2011/14, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
  8. Howells, Jeremy, 2005. "Innovation and regional economic development: A matter of perspective?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(8), pages 1220-1234, October.
  9. Alessandra Colombelli & Jackie Krafft & Francesco Quatraro, 2012. "The emergence of new technology-based sectors at the regional level: a proximity-based analysis of nanotechnology," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 1211, Utrecht University, Section of Economic Geography, revised Jun 2012.
  10. Iammarino, Simona & McCann, Philip, 2006. "The structure and evolution of industrial clusters: Transactions, technology and knowledge spillovers," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(7), pages 1018-1036, September.
  11. Ron Boschma & Asier Minondo & Mikel Navarro, 2012. "The emergence of new industries at the regional level in Spain. A proximity approach based on product-relatedness," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 1201, Utrecht University, Section of Economic Geography, revised Jan 2012.
  12. Gerhard Wegner, 1997. "Economic Policy From an Evolutionary Perspective: A New Approach," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 153(3), pages 485-, September.
  13. Ron Boschma, 2004. "Competitiveness of Regions from an Evolutionary Perspective," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(9), pages 1001-1014.
  14. Jan G. Lambooy & Ron A. Boschma, 2001. "Evolutionary economics and regional policy," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer, vol. 35(1), pages 113-131.
  15. Fritsch, Michael & Stephan, Andreas, 2005. "Regionalization of innovation policy--Introduction to the special issue," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(8), pages 1123-1127, October.
  16. Ron Boschma & Simona Iammarino, 2009. "Related Variety, Trade Linkages, and Regional Growth in Italy," Economic Geography, Clark University, vol. 85(3), pages 289-311, 07.
  17. Robert Hassink & Arnoud Lagendijk, 2001. "The dilemmas of interregional institutional learning," Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 19(1), pages 65-84, February.
  18. Oughton, Christine & Landabaso, Mikel & Morgan, Kevin, 2002. " The Regional Innovation Paradox: Innovation Policy and Industrial Policy," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 27(1), pages 97-110, January.
  19. Ron Boschma & Gaston Heimeriks & Pierre-Alexandre Balland, 2013. "Scientific Knowledge Dynamics and Relatedness in Bio-Tech Cities," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 1304, Utrecht University, Section of Economic Geography, revised Apr 2013.
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