Regional competitiveness, policy transfer and smart specialization: Contemporary Theories and Perspectives on Economic Development

Philip McCann, Raquel Ortega Argiles

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The notion of competiveness is not without its detractors. However, it has evolved largely outside of orthodox economics in the engineering and management disciplines, and emerged primarily as a systems type of perspective and approach which is also central to modern analyses of both entrepreneurship and innovation. Over time the concept has become increasingly adopted within mainstream economics and is regarded as having particular relevance in the context of regions and geography. The concept has now become a central pillar of many economic policy narratives within the international arena and also plays an important role in the international policy transfer agenda. This is particularly so in the case of the European Union smart specialization agenda, which although emerging from slightly different origins and emphasizing different priorities and mechanisms still follows many similar or related principles to those highlighted in the competiveness literature. This chapter examines the evolution of the concept of competitiveness and discusses its increasing application with regard to identifying the underlying economic performance of regions and the appropriate and relevant policy settings which might be employed in order to enhance such performance. Its importance in partly influencing and shaping some of the themes of the smart specialization agenda of the European Union Cohesion Policy are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Regions and Competitiveness
Subtitle of host publicationContemporary Theories and Perspectives of Economic Development
EditorsRobert Huggins, Piers Thompson
PublisherEdward Elgar
Number of pages9
ISBN (Print)9781783475001
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2017


  • competitiveness
  • innovation
  • regional policy


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