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An evolutionary approach to development traps in European regions

febrero 14 | 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM

Seminario de Investigación del IIEP
An evolutionary approach to development traps in European regions

Expositor | Ron Boschma | Utrecht University

Ron Boschma is currently Full Professor in Regional Economics at the Department of Human Geography and Planning of Utrecht University. He is also Professor in Innovation Studies at UiS Business School of Stavanger University in Norway.


Recently, the development trap concept has been introduced to identify regions that get caught in persistent patterns of low economic growth and stagnation (Iammarino et al. 2020). Evolutionary scholars have indicated that self-reinforcing dynamics can limit the capacity of regions to innovate and develop new growth paths (Arthur 1989, 1994). However, an evolutionary approach to regional development traps is still underdeveloped. We build on but also go beyond recent work by Pinheiro et al. (2022), among others, that argue that regions might become trapped in low-complexity activities, because their opportunities to develop high-complex activities are very limited, since relevant capabilities are missing. We propose a novel concept of regional traps that is embedded in evolutionary thinking, and that accounts for the persistent weak ability of many regions to develop new activities and upgrade their economies into more complex activities. We build on the relatedness/complexity framework (Balland et al. 2019) to measure and identify regional traps and to develop a new typology of regional traps. We aim to shed light on the possible links between regional ‘development traps’ (low growth/stagnation traps) as defined by Iammarino et al. (2020) and our new typology of “regional traps”, following an evolutionary approach (Balland et al. 2019). Using industry data, we follow European regions over a long period of time and provide systematic evidence on how many regions in the EU are trapped, what kinds of traps they have fallen into, and to what extent these concern high- and low-income regions. Our definition of regional traps centers around the structural inability of regions to develop new complex activities over a longer period of time, because their capabilities form a major obstacle to move into new and more complex activities. We will identify regions that once did well but have fallen into a trap, but we also showcase regions that managed to overcome such traps, and how. We explore how the different types of traps are linked to low-growth or stagnations traps, as measured by Iammarino et al. (2020). These insights are useful for policy discussions about regional traps, what to do about them, how to successfully escape them, and how to avoid them in the future. This is also crucial for the effectiveness of Smart Specialization policy in places that find themselves trapped or run the risk of falling into a trap.


Lugar: FCE-UBA, Aula 463


febrero 14
10:00 AM - 1:00 PM


UBA Córdoba
Av. Córdoba 2122
Buenos Aires, Capital Federal 1425 Argentina
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