An evolutionary integrated view of Regional Systems of Innovation: concepts, measures and historical perspectives
The literature on geographical systems of innovation has traditionally shown a 'national-bias' that has strongly affected the identification of actors, relationships and attributes operating at the sub-national scale. Indeed, the historical evolution of the regional dimension has rarely been considered (implying that history really matters only at the national level). Modes of governance have also mostly been examined from a country perspective, which neglects the complexity, heterogeneity and path dependency of multi-level governance in current innovation systems. This paper reviews the main literature on the concept of Regional Systems of Innovation (RSI), adopting an integrated view that brings together both top-down and bottom-up characteristics and evolutionary mechanisms for the purpose of identifying RSIs. After discussing conceptual problems, and the relevance and applicability of an evolutionary integrated view of RSI, the case of Italy is employed to support the argument that the historical perspective on regional cultures is often unavoidable in order to assess future opportunities for regional development.