Regional innovation systems revisited: networks, institutions, policy and complexity
Despite the popularity of the concept 'regional innovation system' (RIS) in the academic literature and in policy practice, multiple interpretations and uses of the term coexist. For instance while some scholars view RIS as subsystems of national or sector-based systems presenting particular spatial features, other portray them as smaller-scale versions of national systems (Lagendijk, 1999; Howells, 1999; Iammarino, 2005, Uyarra, 2010). Doloreux & Parto (2005) identify three dimensions of regional innovation systems, namely: the interactions between different actors in the innovation process, the role of institutions, and the use of regional innovation systems analysis to inform policy decisions. More generally, Werker & Athreye (2004) differentiate between micro and meso approaches explaining regional innovation; while the former concentrate on the entrepreneurial behaviour of innovative firms, the latter focus on the structural elements manifested in the institutional set-up of regional and industrial systems. Boschma & Frenken (2006) distinguish between institutional and evolutionary views to innovation and geography as alternatives to neoclassical views. Related literature on national innovation systems (NIS) is no less heterogeneous, with numerous usages and interpretations (Miettinen, 2002; Balzat & Hanusch, 2004; Sharif, 2006; Lundvall, 2007). Despite the popularity of the concept â€˜innovation systemâ€™ in the academic literature and in policy practice, the term itself remains ambiguous (Doloreux & Parto 2005; Uyarra, 2010). This fuzziness (Markusen, 2003), even â€˜black boxingâ€™ of the term, may have obscured certain aspects influencing regional development while overstating others (Uyarra & Flanagan, 2010).
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