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Smart Specialization Strategy: any relatedness between theory and practice?

Emanuela Marrocu (), Raffaele Paci (), D. Rigby and Stefano Usai ()

Working Paper CRENoS from Centre for North South Economic Research, University of Cagliari and Sassari, Sardinia

Abstract: The smart specialization strategy (S3) has been at the core of European Cohesion Policy supporting regions to identify the technologies and economic sectors that might comprise sustainable growth paths. Most regions have included S3 in their development policies and devoted a share of available EU resources to their Regional Operational Programmes for the period 2014-2020. This paper provides one of the first attempts in the literature to assess empirically whether the choices made by European regions in selecting their S3 sectors are consistent, directly and indirectly, with their current specialisation patterns. The latter refer to the regional economy as a whole and not just to the manufacturing sector. Previous contributions that have focused on patent data may be biased because of the concentration of patenting within manufacturing. Analysis of S3 strategies draws from the EC official S3 website, where all regions were compelled to disclose their industrial and technological targets. Results show that regional strategies are heterogeneous. There are a few regions that have chosen a new S3 path rooted both in current sectors within which they enjoy comparative advantage and on related activities. However, overall, regions have not selected sectors highly associated with their current specialization or closely related to it, indicating a limited potential for S3 to activate successful growth trajectories that leverage existing capabilities.

Keywords: Smart Specialization Strategy; regional development; capabilities; revealed comparative advantage; relatedness (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-geo, nep-sbm and nep-tid
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