A new framing of competitiveness has clarified the role of regions in economic policy. Its empirical findings align well with existing literature on the drivers of regional economic performance, but there are opportunities for mutual learning. A step-change in the availability of data on clusters and cluster policies has enabled new research approaches, yet current cluster policies have been largely focused on strengthening existing agglomerations rather than creating new ones. Taking such factors into account, this paper discusses several practical insights for regional policymakers to consider as they structure economic policy decisions. It relates three streams of recent research on competitiveness and clusters to regional economies and policy, looking in particular at the implications for regional authorities pondering how to design strategies for smart specialisation as mandated by the European Commission.
Image: Georgios Kefalas, Keystone/AP Photo