The dark side of the geography of innovation: relatedness, complexity and regional inequality in Europe

Flávio L. Pinheiro, Pierre-Alexandre Balland, Ron Boschma, Dominik Hartmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)
276 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

As regions evolve, their economies become more complex, and they tend to diversify into related activities. Although there is a bright side to this diversification process in terms of economic development, there may also be a dark side to it, as it possibly contributes to regional inequalities. The paper uses data on industries and patents to analyze the diversification patterns of 283 regions in 32 European countries over the past 15 years. We find that only the most economically advanced regions have the opportunity to diversify into highly complex activities. These regions tend to focus on related high-complex activities, while lagging regions focus on related low-complex activities, creating a spatial inequality feedback loop. This pattern creates a wicked problem for innovation policy: the strategy needed to improve the innovativeness of the European knowledge system might disproportionately benefit regions that are already developed and foster disparities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages17
JournalRegional Studies
Early online date7 Sept 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Sept 2022

Keywords

  • Dark side of innovation
  • Geography of innovation
  • Regional diversification
  • Complexity
  • Regional inequality
  • Smart Specialisation Policy

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