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Smart Specialisation from Concept to Practice: A Preliminary Assessment



This study assesses how and to what extent the principles characterising the Smart Specialisation approach are actually translated in policy implementation, by examining three of its complementary aspects: the nature of the priority areas for policy intervention, the mechanisms for project selection, and the type of policy measures. The results shows that regions and countries tend to circumvent the selective approach of Smart Specialisation. Priority areas broadly defined, loose alignment of policy instruments with priorities and the scarce customisation of policy measures to the specific innovation needs of the identified priorities are the tangible signs of this circumvention process. We advance the hypothesis that this could be the result of lobbying activities, higher political return from widespread support measures, risk-aversion, and lack of adequate institutional and administrative capacity. An additional explanation may lie in the incentive structure established at European Union level which did not fully support the intervention logic of Smart Specialisation. To assess the effects of Smart Specialisation, we suggest focusing on interventions that (i) address priorities consistently defined, (ii) apply policy measures selectively to those priorities, (iii) design policy measures around the specificities of each priority.

Suggested Citation

  • Carlo Gianelle & Fabrizio Guzzo & Krzysztof Mieszkowski, 2019. "Smart Specialisation from Concept to Practice: A Preliminary Assessment," JRC Working Papers JRC116297, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
  • Handle: RePEc:ipt:iptwpa:jrc116297

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    Regional innovation policy; Smart Specialisation; Selective intervention logic; policy priorities;

    JEL classification:

    • O25 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - Industrial Policy
    • O30 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - General
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)
    • R58 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis - - - Regional Development Planning and Policy

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