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Smart specialisation and institutions: Towards a process of institutional discovery and change

Maximilian Benner

PEGIS from Institute for Economic Geography and GIScience, Department of Socioeconomics, Vienna University of Economics and Business

Abstract: Recent years have seen much experimentation with smart specialization strategies (RIS3) and their entrepreneurial process of discovery (EDP) in European regions. From the point of view of relational and evolutionary economic geography, the EDP can be seen as an opportunity to address institutional questions. This is important because institutions can explain why some policies are eventually successful while others are not. This article argues that the EDP is a vehicle for regional stakeholders and policymakers to discover institutional patterns specific to the context of the regional or national economy, and to define policies either consistent with existing institutions or aiming at institutional change. Doing so is important because designing context-specific regional policies such as a RIS3 requires a deep understanding of the institutional context of the economy. The article proposes a framework to understand and analyze the two roles of the EDP in terms of institutions: First as an institutional discovery process, and second as an institutional change process. The article builds on evidence from empirical case studies in two regions (Lower Austria, Austria and Bolzano-Alto Adige/South Tyrol, Italy) and two small countries (Slovenia and Croatia). The case studies focus on how these regions and countries organized the EDP that eventually led to the definition of their RIS3, and on the institutional dynamics of EDPs in discovering and changing institutions. The article concludes by proposing policy implications that contribute to the present debate on post-2020 EU Cohesion Policy.

Keywords: smart specialization; institutions; regional development; regional policy; EU Cohesion Policy (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: B52 D02 L26 R11 R59 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 50 pages
Date: 2018
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