The Norrkoping Way: A Knowledge-based Strategy for Renewing a Declining Industrial City (refereed paper)
Peter Svensson (),
Magnus Klofsten and
ERSA conference papers from European Regional Science Association
What the future holds for the industrial cities of the past is a life and death question for many municipalities. Researchers, policy makers and ordinary citizens deal with issues related to developing appropriate strategy for renewing a declining industrial city. Searching the industrial landscape for an existing firm to relocate or establish a branch plant, with an offer of subsidies, is typically the first idea for life support. Developing a new economic base from advanced research is often the next thought for resuscitation. In this paper we study how a small city region, formerly dependent upon old labour-intensive industries, has developed a knowledge-based renewal strategy inspired by ideas emanating from a superseded local economy. Prior research has shown that there are four stages of development in a knowledge-intensive region; inception, implementation, consolidation, and renewal, and at the first stage government and academia take initiative (Etzkowitz & Klofsten, 2005). Later on, the initiative is transferred to industrial actors that identify and exploit the opportunities of the new knowledge. In this process knowledge input is a central aspect of regional development, and stakeholders are active in constructing assets for knowledge production (Cooke & Leydesdorff, 2006; Cooke et al, 2007). We further develop the inception phase of the model through of a triple helix "spaces" strategy for regional renewal, with particular focus in this paper on the consensus space. A longitudinal case study is used to explicate the dynamics of change among university-industry-government actors, including consensus building within the city and with its neighbour city. Our study show that the keys to success were (1) cross-institutional entrepreneurship, aggregating regional and national resources to realize a bespoke locally generated strategy as opposed to the adoption of the usual list of high-tech hot-topics e.g. IT, biotech, alternative energy and (2) striking a balance between intra-regional competition and collaboration in order to achieve common objectives and avoid stasis arising from hyper-competitiveness. Comparisons are made to other relevant cases to infer a theoretical model of regional renewal through hybridization of old and new industrial and knowledge elements.
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