Transversal or linear?

Knowledge externalities and the complexity of knowledge interactions

Authored by: Phil Cooke

Routledge Handbook of the Economics of Knowledge

Print publication date:  December  2014
Online publication date:  December  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415640992
eBook ISBN: 9780203082324
Adobe ISBN: 9781136178658


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This chapter is a research-informed contribution to a new kind of regional innovation policy analysis based on evolutionary economic geography principles. It tackles key issues in the ways in which the ‘knowledge economy’ has been understood by both academics and policy makers. Furthermore, it suggests that this ‘framing’ of ‘knowledge economy’ rhetoric contributed directly to the socio-spatial polarisation of modern economies. At its heart, the dominant ‘knowledge economy’ practice model is linear, exclusive and ‘specialisationist’ – for example, the EU insistence that to receive regional aid, regions must show they propose S&T innovation by so-called ‘smart specialisation’. A seminal paper by Jensen et al. (2007) refers to this hegemonic approach to innovation, which itself has also become an almost ‘totalising’ rhetoric for regional and business improvement, the Science, Technology, Innovation (STI) model of innovation. As we shall see, they contrast STI with a Doing, Using, Interacting (DUI) model that is both more user-friendly than STI to most firms and much truer to Schumpeter’s (1939) basic and still relevant definition of innovation as rooted in ‘recombinations of knowledge’ where novelty may occur, we may add, even if the ‘knowledge modules’ themselves are not new.

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