(January 2010) Regional Innovation Systems and the Question of Rural Regions
Regional Innovation Systems and the Question of Rural Regions
A growing debate revolves at present around spatial planning matters in Romania. One particularly interesting field in this debate is an array of questions addressed at the current and future evolution paths of development regions (GR: MESD, 2008). With the exception of the development region comprising the capital, all other regions are, in fact, rural ones (OECD, 2009). Furthermore, when observing the corresponding regional structures of employment, it becomes clear that agriculture still accounts for a high rate of employment, while, at the same time, employment in the service sector has witnessed a considerable growth.
This state of affairs constitutes the platform for the doctoral research project. Its aim is to produce a more coherent strategic approach to the development of Romanian regions. A regional innovation system approach (RIS) has proved to yield some very rewarding insights (Braczyk, Cooke & Heidenreich, 1998; Oinas & Malecki, 2002; Lundvall, Johnson, Andersen & Dalum, 2007). RIS are highly dependent on the existing structure of a particular region, and therefore have a marked spatial logic. Secondly, a RIS approach is not confined to the high-end and high-tech economic sector, but is versatile enough for it to function well even in a situation of low value-added sectors, like agriculture.
The process of applying a RIS approach will in this case comprise of two phases. In a first stage, it should act as a stabilizer in regional development, integrating and transforming the agricultural sector to fit the framework of an endogenous growth process (Malecki, 1991; Tödtling & Trippl, 2005; Minerva & Ottaviano, 2009). This is regarded as a preparation stage of considerable social influence, that consists of mapping and developing innovation-sensitive organizations, which should, in turn, act as docking points for various typologies of RIS. The second phase will consist of addressing problems of competitiveness, continuing the regional specialization process started in the previous stage and being grounded in a knowledge-intensive regional development perspective (Cooke, 2001; Malecki & Moriset, 2008).
A dynamic perspective will systematically be favoured when analyzing networks, from various infrastructures, to economic and innovation networks (Karlsson, Andersson, Cheshire & Stough, 2009). The degree of formation and development of such networks is of interest to my research. Consequently, the extent of interaction and adjustment between these networks has a direct impact on questions of space, especially if and why it is perceived as luxury. In a Romanian context, such a problem is a rather pressing one, as it heavily bears upon the role urban nodes play, or should play, in specific regional development strategies (Pascariu, 2004).
A twofold aim characterizes the resulting paper. The theoretical framework presented in the previous paragraphs will have to undergo additional refinements. The diagnostic part will concentrate upon selecting a relevant sample of low or medium value-added, innovation-sensitive field of economic activity, which displays significant linkages to matters of territorial cohesion and is capable to support a RIS architecture.
Regional Innovation Systems and the Question of Rural Regions by Andrei MITREA is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Romania License.