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When drivers of clusters shift scale from local towards global: What remains for regional innovation policy?

Markus Grillitsch (), Josephine Rekers and Franz Tödtling

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

Abstract: Industries and regional economies evolve as a result of the interplay between local and non-local factors. Increasing globalization of both production- and innovation activities implies a shift in the relevant scales of interaction from the local towards the global level. This paper is concerned with the implications of such scale shifts for the role of the region and for cluster-related regional policies. It examines what is left of the role of regional settings in fostering economic development when extra-regional drivers of change increase in importance. We investigate this crucial question with two in-depth case studies of the medical technologies sector, in which such scale shifts have been particularly pronounced. Our findings from empirical material collected in Scania/Sweden and Vienna/Austria illustrate the ways in which changes in national and supra-national regulatory frameworks have had a profound impact on the innovation activities of individual firms and the way to develop and launch new products, and subsequently on the regions in which they cluster. Such scale-shifts have on the one hand limited the potential for regional policy to shape the cluster’s path through support for supply-side factors. Yet some critical assets remain local but are increasingly difficult to access. By addressing such barriers to access, regional policy can still strongly affect the opportunities for innovation. Furthermore, in an increasingly open industry system, we see an expanded role for regional policy in supporting firms to access critical assets and sources of innovation found external to the region.

Keywords: Regional industrial policy; innovation policy; cluster policy; scale shift; life science; globalization (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 38 pages
Date: 2019
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