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Beyond clusters: Fostering innovation through a differentiated and combined network approach

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  • Evert-Jan Visser
  • Oedzge Atzema

Abstract

Over the past decades, economic and innovation policy across Europe moved in the direction of creating regional clusters of related firms and institutions. Creating clusters through public policy is risky, complex and costly, however. Moreover, it is not necessary to rely on clusters to stimulate innovation. A differentiated and combined network approach to enhancing innovation and stimulating economic growth may be more efficient and effective, especially though not exclusively in regions lacking clusters. The challenge of such a policy is to mitigate the bottlenecks associated with ‘global pipeline’, ‘local buzz’ and ‘stand alone’ strategies used by innovative firms (cf. Bathelt et al. 2004; Atzema & Visser 2005b), and to combine these strategies with a view to their complementarity in terms of knowledge effects. Private and semi-public brokers will be key in the evolving policy, as timely organizational change is crucial for continued innovation, while brokers also need to mitigate governance problems. This requires region-specific knowledge in terms of sectors, life cycles, institutional and socio-cultural factors, and yields spatially differentiated and differentiating adjustment strategies. The role of public policy is to assist in recruiting, provide start-up funding and monitor brokers. With this, policy moves towards a decentralized, process-based, region-specific, spatially diverging and multi-level system of innovation that is geared towards the evolving innovation strategies of firms.

Suggested Citation

  • Evert-Jan Visser & Oedzge Atzema, 2007. "Beyond clusters: Fostering innovation through a differentiated and combined network approach," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 0705, Utrecht University, Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Group Economic Geography, revised Jun 2007.
  • Handle: RePEc:egu:wpaper:0705
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    File URL: http://econ.geo.uu.nl/peeg/peeg0705.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    innovation policy; clusters; networks; governance; regionalization;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes
    • R58 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis - - - Regional Development Planning and Policy
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O38 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Government Policy

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