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How to unlock regional economies from path dependency? From learning region to learning cluster


  • Robert Hassink


Since the Industrial Revolution the cyclical processes of rise and fall of regional economies have been accelerating. Many of the specific problems of the falling part of clustering, that is old industrial areas, are related to path dependency and lock-ins. Particularly political lock-ins hinder the necessary restructuring processes in old industrial areas. They can be considered as thick institutional tissues aiming at preserving existing industrial structures and therefore unnecessarily slowing down industrial restructuring and indirectly hampering the development of indigenous potential and creativity. Of the recently born offspring of the family of territorial innovation models, the learning region concept seems to be most focused on overcoming and avoiding political lock-ins in old industrial areas. Most scholars consider learning regions as regional development concepts in which the main actors are strongly, but flexibly, connected with each other and are open both to intraregional and interregional learning processes. Policy-makers in learning regions are involved in learning from institutional errors made in the past and by doing that in avoiding path-dependent development. Empirical evidence, however, shows that the learning region is of limited importance to unlock regional economies from path dependency, due to three weaknesses: its fuzziness, its normative character in its squeezed position between national innovation systems and global production networks. A less normative and more process-oriented concept is proposed in this paper, namely that of the learning cluster.

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  • Robert Hassink, 2005. "How to unlock regional economies from path dependency? From learning region to learning cluster," European Planning Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(4), pages 521-535, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:eurpls:v:13:y:2005:i:4:p:521-535
    DOI: 10.1080/09654310500107134

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bengt-Åke Lundvall, 1996. "The Social Dimension of the Learning Economy," DRUID Working Papers 96-1, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
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