Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography

November 1, 2013

# 13.22 Constructing Regional Advantage and Smart Specialization: Comparison of Two European Policy Concepts

Filed under: 2013 — Tags: , , — mattehartog @ 6:41 pm

Ron Boschma

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This paper discusses two influential policy concepts at the European level that aim to promote economic diversification of regions, that is the Constructing Regional Advantage concept (CRA) and the Smart Specialization concept (SS). Both approaches are in favour of policy intervention but defy ‘one-size-fits-all’ policies as well as ‘stand-alone’ policies that create new activities in regions from scratch. Although ‘picking-the-winner’ policies are rejected, both policy frameworks identify and prioritise ‘promising’ targets for policy intervention, but they do so differently. The SS concept organizes this identification process through entrepreneurial discovery in which entrepreneurs select the domains of future specialization. The CRA concept focuses on identifying related variety and bottlenecks that prevent related industries in regions to connect and interact. Crucial in both frameworks is the strong involvement of local stakeholders. However, both approaches also agree that rent-seeking behavior, corruption and lock-in are potential threats to effective policy making. To avoid this, both are in favor of an open and inclusive approach and a policy implementation process that is closely monitored. The paper argues that the two policy concepts can provide useful inputs to develop a smart and comprehensive policy design that focuses on true economic renewal in regions and that avoids rent-seeking behaviour of vested players.

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