Smart specialisation: Learning how to do ‘new industrial policy’

Research on what are known as ‘smart specialisation strategies’ has very rapidly become a core element of our work at Orkestra over the last few years. Smart specialisation strategies are part of the trend towards a ‘new industrial policy’, following many years in which the best industrial policy was widely accepted to be none at all. The emergence of the new industrial policy is heavily influenced by Dani Rodrik’s 2004 paper on Industrial Policy for the 21st Century, in which he highlighted a rare historic opportunity to build an economic policy agenda between the typical choices of government-centred or market-centred dogma. New industrial policies recognise that it is important for territories to have strategies, which means making choices around which economic activities to support. Where they break from old industrial policies is in emphasising that making those choices is not the job of government alone, but must build new forms of private-public interaction. (más…)

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Strategies for Shaping Territorial Competitiveness

As noted recently by Christian Ketels in his blog for the TCI Network, the issue of territorial strategy is currently extremely popular among regional policy-makers. In Europe this popularity has been stoked by the European Commission’s adoption of the smart specialization concept and insistence that all regions that want to receive structural funds related to innovation have in place a research and innovation strategy for smart specialization (RIS3). The debate is relevant more widely, however, as around the world today we see policy discourse dominated by territories – whether they be cities, regions, countries or cross-border regions – looking to develop, implement and monitor the progress of distinctive strategies to boost their competitiveness.

Despite this popularity, there is a strong sense in which policy practice is racing ahead of conceptual and empirical understanding in the academic sphere of what territorial strategy-making actually entails. Our recently published book on Strategies for Shaping Territorial Competitiveness aims to move forward academic understanding of territorial strategies, while explicitly recognizing that academic reflection must build from and work with the wealth of evolving practice. As Ketels argues in his blog, regional strategy is difficult, and we are at a moment when the academic and policy worlds need to collide more effectively so as to generate real improvements in how we ‘do’ territorial strategy for competitiveness. (más…)

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Where next for clusters and cluster policy?

We are currently warming up at Orkestra for the 2014 edition of our Microeconomics of Competitiveness (MOC) programme. This course, dedicated to fostering theoretical and practical understanding of territorial competitiveness, has been taught in the Basque Country for the last 12 years. Yet each year calls for fresh thinking among the team of faculty involved, because the competitiveness landscape and our own understanding of it are constantly evolving. My role within the programme is to teach a module on clusters and cluster policy, and for me this is a time to reflect on where this well-established yet dynamic concept fits in the context of today’s competitiveness challenges.  (más…)

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Medidas simples para aspectos complejos

Me ha sorprendido encontrarme esta mañana en el periódico con un titular que afirmaba que Euskadi ha perdido competitividad desde 1999. Mi sorpresa no tenía que ver con la veracidad, o no, de dicha afirmación, sino con el hecho de que algo tan complejo y difícil de medir, como la competitividad, pudiera resumirse en un simple titular. Leyendo más detenidamente la noticia, queda claro que el estudio realizado por el Instituto Flores de Lemus de la Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, al que hace referencia el artículo, mide la competitividad en precios. El estudio compara la evolución de la inflación desde 1999, en cada una de las 17 comunidades autónomas, con la del  conjunto de España. Concluye que el incremento de precios durante los últimos 13 años en la mayoría de las comunidades autónomas ha sido marginalmente mayor que el promedio, siendo las únicas tres excepciones las Islas Baleares, las Islas Canarias y Extremadura, en las que el aumento de los precios ha sido menor. ¿Significa esto que estas tres regiones son ahora más competitivas que el resto y que las regiones que han experimentado un aumento de precios son menos competitivas de lo que lo eran en 1999? Mi respuesta sería que no, teniendo en cuenta que el concepto de competitividad territorial depende de cuál sea el punto de referencia y de un amplio abanico de determinantes.


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