Varieties of Innovation and Welfare Regimes: The Leap from R&D Projects to the Development of City-regions
Kimmo Viljamaa and
European Planning Studies, 2007, vol. 16, issue 9, 1267-1291
In the varieties of capitalism, welfare capitalism, and systems of innovation literatures, the university is a critical actor as public employer, trainer and provider of several public goods. However, there is relatively weak enquiry into the spatial and institutional characteristics of university-led economic development and a relative neglect of the political economy and organizational features of embedded R&D projects in urban and regional planning. We argue that technical projects, far from being stand-alone entities, have taken on the broad characteristics of the university and city-regional development mandate in where they reside. The article is based on an exploratory study of university--industry R&D projects in six city regions of Finland. We show that: (a) the shifting role of universities reflects a changed context for the welfare state in which the “public” debate occurs; (b) These create distinct issues of legitimacy and coalition-building in local economic planning which give rise to diverse regional interpretations of single technology programmes; (c) We categorise three general types of models of R&D projects in universities and propose tentative categories of contributions to “public knowledge”. This diversity of interpretations and outcomes leaves us optimistic regarding the ability of city-regions to adapt and plan for the future against a changing welfare state that shapes the university's role, yet more cautious about any clear-cut “public knowledge” emerging from such technical projects.
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