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The pressures of global competition are affecting regions throughout the world and making it increasingly necessary to understand the complex underlying mechanisms and the potential for innovation offered by new technology. Success in economic restructuring depends not only on the technology itself, but the professional and entrepreneurial skills available and the support of provided by institutions and information networks. The very local nature these phenomena, which are critical to the innovative propensity of firms operating within the region, introduces an inevitable spatial dimension. The time therefore seems ripe to bring together contributions from scholars working in different, but related disciplines, with the aim of investigating the triangular relationship between technological change, economic development and space. The present volume offers a compact review of current theoretical developments and valuable insights deriving from recent empirical studies carried out both within Europe and elsewhere. All those contributing to this volume are actively involved in research in the field. Without their intellectual contribution and willingness to participate in this joint project, the book would not have been possible. We should like, in addition, to thank Angela Spence for her capable assistance in coordinating the various stages of preparation of the book, as well as her translation work and careful linguistic editing. Thanks also go to Paola Stasi for her meticulous copy editing and help in preparing the indices. Their work has been invaluable in moulding together in a single volume contributions from so many different sources.



Technological Change, Economic Development and Space: An Introduction

1. Technological Change, Economic Development and Space: An Introduction

In recent years there has been growing scientific interest in the complex relationships between technological change, economic development and space. Research efforts are still hampered however by a lack of both theoretical and empirical insights. The main aim of this present book is to provide a compact and refreshing state-of-the-art review of current developments. It includes general reflections on theoretical issues and the findings of specific empirical investigations,withaview to furtheringourunderstandingoftheabove research triangle. The common theme of all contributions is change, not only concerning techniques of production and the characteristics of products, but also the behaviour leading to new knowledge, the general structure of economies and their performance. There is, of course, also a spatial dimension to the changes occurring, and it is important to underline that the spatial aspect is not merely a consequence, but an integral part of the process of change (inherently spatial phenomena such as incubator niches and the diffusion process are fundamental to technological innovation).
Cristoforo S. Bertuglia, Manfred M. Fischer, Giorgio Preto

Diffusion of Knowledge, Network Externalities and Economic Development


2. Creation, Innovation and Diffusion of Knowledge: General and Specific Economic Impacts

Chaos is a generic outcome of interdependent, non-linear dynamic processes. Knowledge and economic development is, without any doubt, determined in a system that is riddled by non-linearities and mutual interaction between variables. Thus, on purely mathematical grounds, we should expect long-term economic development to be chaotic, i.e. unpredictable but viable. That these phenomena occur even in rather simple non-linear dynamic models has been shown for example by Puu (1989).
Å. E. Andersson

3. A Territorial Socio-ecological Approach to Innovation Diffusion, Schumpeterian Competition and Dynamic Choice

In this chapter we attempt to elaborate, on the basis of a territorial socio-ecological approach, a unifying conceptual framework of the innovation diffusion process and the effects of socio-cultural and economic interventions of an active environment on innovation spread. The essence of this approach is that we assume there exists a synergetic interaction between the fundamental socio-economic structural hierarchy of the territorial/regional units and clusters of competitive innovations entering the territorial/functional niches.
M. Sonis

4. Innovation, Communication Networks and Urban Milieus: A Sociological Approach

The vast majority of the more recent analyses of innovation processes have recognised the importance of social factors in both the creation and spatial diffusion of innovation. In most cases however, this recognition does not significantly affect the nature of the analysis itself. At most, the social variables are treated as generic elements of the differentiation between urban contexts, and are seen as factors resulting from historic processes, explaining a greater or lesser propensity to innovation by the populations of different cities or regions. There are a number of reasons for this, but the most significant appears to be the rigidity of approach typical of the disciplines concerned with the innovation phenomenon and the barrier that this has created to a more satisfactory interdisciplinary effort.
A. Mela

5. Transportation, Communications and Patterns of Location

The relationships between transportation, communications and the spatial patterns of urban development have always been of theoretical and methodological interest, as well as of practical concern for decision-making in transportation and land-use planning. Today, the development of new communication technology acts as a major determinant of urban change.
C. S. Bertuglia, S. Occelli

6. The Interacting Choice Processes of Innovation, Location and Mobility: A Compartmental Approach

To achieve a more complete understanding of the spatial implications of the processes discussed in the previous chapter — i.e. the evolutionary path that an urban system might take as a result of the diffusion of new information technology — it was decided to develop a mathematical model.
C. S. Bertuglia, S. Lombardo, S. Occelli, G. A. Rabino

Innovation Behaviour of Individual Firms


7. Technological Change and Innovation Behaviour

During the past decades a considerable body of knowledge has been developed in the study of technological change, and much of it is being used by policy makers in the public and private spheres. While it is true to say that we now understand a great deal more about technological change processes at the micro- and the macro-level, it nevertheless remains true that there is currently no satisfactory general theory of technological innovation. Despite the progress which has been made, the gaps in knowledge are still great. The economics of technological change though rapidly growing is still at the stage where many basic facts and theories or conceptual models are missing.
M. M. Fischer

8. Company Classification and Technological Change: A New Perspective on Regional Innovation

Most studies of the relationship between technological change and regional economic development rest upon the conceptualisation and definition of three fundamental identities: the region, innovation activities, and the firm or establishment that undertakes these activities. The emphasis has tended to be placed on the first two concepts: defining appropriate areal units and operationalising measures of innovation. The manufacturing company or establishmenton the other hand, is usually treated as a non-problematic concept. In this chapter, attention focuses on the nature of the individual manufacturing establishments that make up regional systems of economic activity. This perspective implies a micro-level approach, and the chapter argues that from an understanding of the conditions that promote innovation at the micro (or establishment) level will emerge a more informed and perceptive analysis of innovation activity at the regional level.
N. Alderman

9. Innovation Adoption, Innovation Networks and Agglomeration Economies

The focus of this chapter is the adoption of innovations, i.e. new techniques for product and process development within individual establishments (plants). It deals in particular with the adoption of applications of information technology (IT).
C. Karlsson

10. Network Externalities: Towards a Taxonomy of the Concept and a Theory of Their Effects on the Performance of Firms and Regions

The wide technological potentialities of the latest applications in telecommunications has revitalised interest in the diffusion and adoption mechanisms of new technologies. Until a few years ago, the demand for telecommunications services was generally analysed within a conventional framework which focused attention on the role of price and revenue elasticity. In recent years, however, greater attention has been given to some new mechanisms which are radically influencing the demand for telecommunications services. These mechanisms have been pinpointed by a growing literature as ‘network externalities’ and ‘learningprocesses’ (Antonelli, 1989). Since the publication of Rohlf’s paper on network externality in 1974, this concept has become the subj ect of many studies which interpret it as a quintessential issue in the diffusion of new technologies1.
R. Capello

11. Industrial Dynamics and Rational Expectations in a Spatial Setting

Technological innovation is one of the vehicles for accelerated regional growth. Unfortunately, the measurement of technological innovation is fraught with difficulties. The main goal of technological progress is to improve the competitive position of firms or regions. Whether or not this strategy has been successful can indirectly be assessed by investigating output indicators such as sales or profits, or related indicators such as investment or employment.
M. A. van der Ende, P. Nijkamp

Local/Global Networks: What Policy, What Future?


12. The Region as an Evolutive System

It may seem strange that, after four decades of existence of the Regional Science Association, the concept of the region is still a subject of discussion. Many things have changed however, some of them radically, since the first Isardian definitions. Whereas it seems increasingly unsatisfactory to make a merely generic use of the term ‘region’, synonymous with territory, it nevertheless appears impossible to single out a precise geographic entity that can be rigorously defined as such. In the context of socio-economic relations that have reached a global scale, and now that local entities (and their relation space) are considered simply as ‘nodes’ of a global network, it is even being questioned whether the region has any strategic significance at all.
G. Preto

13. The New Flexible Economy: Shaping Regional and Local Institutions for Global Competition

A major disappointment of the era of strong regional policies of the 1960s and 1970s was their failure to eliminate regional disparities, both economic and technological. The lack of success had at least two causes. First, the typical regional policy of that era was:
“essentially top-down in nature. It was based on large-scale, spatially-concen- trated industrial and infrastructure investments, with decision-making largely in the hands of large industrial oligopolies and financial institutions. The prevailing conceptual base for regional planning was growth pole theory, whose influence eventually extended throughout the world. Although a considerable amount of industrial decentralization took place in this context, the quality of the decentralized jobs left much to be desired. In retrospect, it is apparent that externally-induced growth typically did not provide a solid basis for sustained regional or local development” (Hansen, 1987).
E. J. Malecki, F. Tödtling

14. High-tech Centres and Regional Innovation: Some Case Studies in the UK, Germany, Japan and Korea

In recent years there has been considerable interest in those regional development policies which emphasize new technology and innovation. The High-tech Centre (HTC) is one such innovation-oriented regional policy. The emphasis on the stimulation of high-tech industry through HTCs and other initiatives by so many countries around the world is based on the assumption that technological innovation leads to economic growth (Lowe, 1985, Simmie et al., 1993, Oakey, 1981, Grayson, 1993), but the HTC is not a uniform concept. There are many different types and in fact development processes too vary considerably in different countries and regions.
D. Oh, I. Masser

15. Concluding Comments and Future Outlook

An attempt has been made in this volume to bring together a number of very different approaches to the exploration of the relationship between technological change and economic development, with particular consideration of the spatial implications. The investigation has been carried out primarily from a theoretical point of view, but includes discussion on appropriate methodologies and is supported by the findings of some recent empirical studies.
C. S. Bertuglia, M. M. Fischer, G. Preto


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