Journal of the Knowledge Economy

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 275–297 | Cite as

Review About Regional Development Networks: an Ecosystem Model Proposal

  • João Lopes
  • Mário FrancoEmail author


In today’s increasingly global economy, the relationships of competition between countries and regions have changed. Therefore, regional development networks have come to assume relevance at the regional level, and through a literature review, this study aims to answer the question: What is the role of regional development networks in regions’ competitiveness? To this end, an ecosystem model is proposed for regional development networks so as to help regions in their development and competitiveness. This study also identified four types of regional network: (1) smart specialisation strategies, (2) regional innovation strategy, (3) regional development and entrepreneurship networks, and (4) ecosystems of entrepreneurship and innovation. The model proposed contributes to advancements in this area of research, since only the “helices” model of regional development network was found. The newly developed ecosystem model has not been empirically validated. In terms of guidelines for future research, this topic should be addressed by collecting information to expand the model presented here, as well as testing it in regions and subsequently between regions.


Eco-innovation Regional development Entrepreneurship ecosystems Innovation Smart specialisation Model 



The authors thank the anonymous reviewers for their very helpful comments that contributed to the development of this paper. The authors gratefully acknowledge financial support from FCT and FEDER/COMPETE through grant PEst-C/EGE/UI4007/2013.


  1. Adner, R. (2006). Match your innovation strategy to your innovation ecosystem. Harvard Business Review, 84(4), 98–107.Google Scholar
  2. Adner, R., & Kapoor, R. (2010). Value creation in innovation ecosystems: how the structure of technological interdependence affects firm performance in new technology generations. Stategic Management Journal, 31(3), 306–333.Google Scholar
  3. Afuah, A. (2000). How much do your co-opetitors capabilities mater in the face of technological change. Strategic Management Journal, 21(3), 387–404.Google Scholar
  4. Alfaro, J. J., Rodriguez-Rodriguez, R., Verdecho, M. J., & Ortiz, A. (2009). Business process interoperability and collaborative performance measurement. International Journal of Computer Integrated Manufacturing, 22(9), 877–889.Google Scholar
  5. Almeida, P., & Kogut, B. (1999). Localization of knowledge and the mobility of engineers in regional networks. Management Science, 45(7), 905–917.Google Scholar
  6. Amin, A. (1999). An institutionalist perspective on regional economic development. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 23(2), 365–378.Google Scholar
  7. Andersen, M. M. (2004). An Innovation System approach to Eco-innovation – Aligning policy rationales. The Greening Policies, (December), 1–28.Google Scholar
  8. Andersson, M., & Ejermo, O. (2005). How does accessibility to knowledge sources affect the innovativeness of corporations?—evidence from Sweden. Annals of Regional Science, 39(4), 741–765.Google Scholar
  9. Audretsch, D. B., & Keilbach, M. (2008). Resolving the knowledge paradox: knowledge-spillover entrepreneurship and economic growth. Research Policy, 37(10), 1697–1705.Google Scholar
  10. Audretsch, D. B., & Lehmann, E. E. (2005). Does the knowledge spillover theory of entrepreneurship hold for regions? Research Policy, 34(8), 1191–1202.Google Scholar
  11. Audretsch, D., & Keilbach, M. (2004). Entrepreneurship capital and economic performance. Regional Studies, 38(8), 949–959.Google Scholar
  12. Autio, E., Kenney, M., Mustar, P., Siegel, D., & Wright, M. (2014). Entrepreneurial innovation: the importance of context. Research Policy, 43(7), 1097–1108.Google Scholar
  13. Bahrami, H., & Evans, S. (1995). Flexible re-cycling and high-technology entrepreneurship. Calafornia Management Review, 37(3), 62–88.Google Scholar
  14. Bathelt, H., & Gluckler, J. (2003). Toward a relational economic geography. Journal of Economic Geography, 3(2), 117–144.Google Scholar
  15. Bathelt, H., Malmberg, A., & Maskell, P. (2004). Clusters and knowledge: local buzz, global pipelines and the process of knowledge creation. Prog Hum Geogr, 28(1), 31–56.Google Scholar
  16. Belussi, F., Sammarra, A., & Sedita, S. R. (2010). Learning at the boundaries in an “open regional innovation system”: a focus on firms’ innovation strategies in the Emilia Romagna life science industry. Research Policy, 39(6), 710–721.Google Scholar
  17. Benneworth, P. (2004). In what sense “regional development?”: entrepreneurship, underdevelopment and strong tradition in the periphery. Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, 16(6), 439–458.Google Scholar
  18. Biggs, R., Westley, F. R., & Carpenter, S. (2010). Navigating the back loop: fostering social innovation and transformation in ecosystem management. Ecology and Society, 15(2), 9.Google Scholar
  19. Bleischwitz, R., Giljum, S., Kuhndt, M., & Schmidt-Bleek, F. (2009). Eco-innovation-putting the EU on the path to a resource and energy efficient economy. Wuppertal Spezial, 138.Google Scholar
  20. Boschma, R. (2005). Proximity and innovation: a critical assessment. Regional Studies, 39(1), 61–74.Google Scholar
  21. Camagni, R. (2002). On the concept of territorial competitiveness: sound or misleading? Urban Studies, 39(13), 2395–2411.Google Scholar
  22. Camagni, R., & Capello, R. (2013). Regional innovation patterns and the EU regional policy reform: toward smart innovation policies. Growth and Change, 44(2), 355–389.Google Scholar
  23. Cooke, P. (1997). Regions in a global market: the experiences of Wales and Baden-Wurttemberg. Review of International Political Economy, 4(2), 349–381.Google Scholar
  24. Cooke, P. (2001). Regional innovation systems, clusters and the knowledge economy. Industrial and Corporate Change, 10, 945–974.Google Scholar
  25. Cooke, P., & Morgan, K. (1998). The Associational Economy: Firms, Regions and Innovation. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from _morgan.pdf
  26. Cowan, R., & Jonard, N. (2004). Network structure and the diffusion of knowledge. Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, 28(8), 1557–1575.Google Scholar
  27. Dallacas, G., & Noera, G. (1974). Installation of computer in regional operations center - experiences and forecasts regarding possible developments for control of distribution network. ELETTROTECNICA. Google Scholar
  28. Daskalakis, M., & Kauffeld-Monz, M. (2005). Trust and knowledge in the behavioural dynamics of innovation networks. In 4th European Meeting on Applied Evolutionary Economics. Utrecht.Google Scholar
  29. Desrochers, P., & Sautet, F. (2004). Cluster-based economic strategy, facilitation policy and the market process. Rev Aust Econ, 173(2), 233–245.Google Scholar
  30. Diederen, P., van Meijl, H., Wolters, A., & Bijak, K. (2003). Innovation adoption in agriculture: innovators, early adopters and laggards. Cahiers D’économie et Sociologie Rurales, 67, 30–50.Google Scholar
  31. Doloreux, D. (2003). Regional innovation systems in the periphery: the case of the Beauce in Québec. International Journal of Innovation Management, 07(01), 67–94.Google Scholar
  32. Dunford, M. (2006). Industrial districts, magic circles, and the restructuring of the Italian textiles and clothing chain. Economic Geography, 82(1), 27–59.Google Scholar
  33. Etzkowitz, H. (2003). Studies of science etudes Sur la science innovation in innovation : the triple helix of university - industry - government relations. Social Science Information, 42(3), 293–337.Google Scholar
  34. Etzkowitz, H., & Klofsten, M. (2005). The innovating region: toward a theory of knowledge-based regional development. R&D Management, 35(3), 243–255.Google Scholar
  35. Etzkowitz, H., & Leydesdorff, L. (2000). The dynamics of innovation: from National Systems and “mode 2” to a triple helix of university–industry–government relations. Research Policy, 29(2), 109–123.Google Scholar
  36. Feldman, M., Francis, J., & Bercovitz, J. (2005). Creating a cluster while building a firm: entrepreneurs and the formation of industrial clusters. Regional Studies, 39(1), 129–141.Google Scholar
  37. Fey, C. (2005). External sources of knowledge, governance mode, and R&D performance. Journal of Management, 31(4), 597–621.Google Scholar
  38. Fischer, M. M. (2001). Innovation, knowledge creation and systems of innovation. Annals of Regional Science, 35(1), 199–216.Google Scholar
  39. Fletcher, R., & Barrett, N. (2001). Embeddedness and the evolution of global networks. Industrial Marketing Management, 30(7), 561–573.Google Scholar
  40. Foray, D., David, P. a., & Hall, B. (2009). Smart specialisation—the concept. Knowledge Economists Policy Brief N °, 9(June), 1–5 Retrieved from Scholar
  41. Foray, D., Goddard, J., Beldarrain, X. G., Landabaso, M., McCann, P., Morgan, K., Ortega-Argilés, R. (2012). Guide to Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialization (RIS3).
  42. Freeman, C. (1995). The ‘National System of innovation’ in historical perspective. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 19(1), 5–24.Google Scholar
  43. Fritsch, M., & Mueller, P. (2004). Effects of new business formation on regional development over time. Regional Studies, 388(March), 961–975.Google Scholar
  44. Gellynck, X., & Vermeire, B. (2009). The contribution of regional networks to innovation and challenges for regional policy. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 33(3), 719–737.Google Scholar
  45. Gellynck, X., Vermeire, B., & Viaene, J. (2006). Innovation in the food sector: regional networks and internationalisation. Journal on Chain and Network Science, 6(1), 21–30.Google Scholar
  46. Gellynck, X., Vermeire, B., & Viaene, J. (2007). Innovation in food firms: contribution of regional networks within the international business context. Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, 19(3), 209–226.Google Scholar
  47. Ghio, N., Guerini, M., Lehmann, E. E., & Rossi-Lamastra, C. (2015). The emergence of the knowledge spillover theory of entrepreneurship. Small Business Economics, 44(1), 1–18.Google Scholar
  48. Gilsing, V., Nooteboom, B., Vanhaverbeke, W., Duysters, G., & van den Oord, A. (2008). Network embeddedness and the exploration of novel technologies: technological distance, betweenness centrality and density. Research Policy, 37(10), 1717–1731.Google Scholar
  49. Grunert, K. G., Harmsen, H., Meulenberg, M., Kuiper, E., Ottowitz, T., Declerck, F., et al. (1997). A framework for analysing innovation in the food sector. In B. Traill & K. G. Grunert (Eds.), Products and process innovation in the food industry (pp. 1–37). Boston, MA: Springer US.Google Scholar
  50. Hadjimichalis, C. (2006). The end of third Italy as we knew it? Antipode, 38(1), 82–106.Google Scholar
  51. Hadjimichalis, C., & Hudson, R. (2006). Networks, regional development and democratic control. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 30(4), 858–872.Google Scholar
  52. Hahn, J. Política de coesão 2014–2020 (2013).Google Scholar
  53. Hall, J., & Kerr, R. (2003). Innovation dynamics and environmental technologies: the emergence of fuel cell technology. Journal of Cleaner Production, 11(4), 459–471.Google Scholar
  54. Hirschman, A. (1958). The Strategy of Economic Development. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  55. Hudson, R. (2006). Regional devolution and regional economic success: myths and illusions about power. Geografiska Annaler, Series B: Human Geography, 88(2), 159–171.Google Scholar
  56. Huggins, R., & Johnston, A. (2009). Knowledge networks in an uncompetitive region: SME innovation and growth. Growth and Change, 40(2), 227–259.Google Scholar
  57. Huggins, R., & Johnston, A. (2010). Knowledge flow and inter-firm networks: the influence of network resources, spatial proximity and firm size. Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, 22(5), 457–484.Google Scholar
  58. Huggins, R., & Thompson, P. (2014). A network-based view of regional growth. Journal of Economic Geography, 14(3), 511–545.Google Scholar
  59. Huggins, R., & Thompson, P. (2015). Entrepreneurship, innovation and regional growth: a network theory. Small Business Economics, 45(1), 103–128.Google Scholar
  60. Huggins, R., & Williams, N. (2011). Entrepreneurship and regional competitiveness: the role and progression of policy. Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, 23(9–10), 907–932.Google Scholar
  61. Hulme, M. (2008). Geographical work at the boundaries of climate change. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 33(1), 5–11.Google Scholar
  62. Iammarino, S. (2005). An evolutionary integrated view of regional systems of innovation: concepts, measures and historical perspectives. European Planning Studies, 13(4), 497–519.Google Scholar
  63. Ikeda, S. (2008). The meaning of “social capital” as it relates to the market process. Review of Austrian Economics, 21(2–3), 167–182.Google Scholar
  64. Karlsson, C., & Warda, P. (2014). Entrepreneurship and innovation networks. Small Business Economics, 43(2), 393–398.Google Scholar
  65. Kenis, P., & Schneiider, V. (1991). Policy Networks and Policy Analysis: Scrutinizing a New Analytical Toolbox. Policy Networks.Empirical Evidence and Theoretical Considerations, (April), 25–59.Google Scholar
  66. Kim, Y., Kim, W., & Yang, T. (2012). The effect of the triple helix system and habitat on regional entrepreneurship: empirical evidence from the U.S. Research Policy, 41(1), 154–166.Google Scholar
  67. Kostiainen, J. (2002). Urban Economic Development Policy in the Network Society. Tampere, Finland: Tekniikan akateemisten liitto.Google Scholar
  68. Lagendijk, A. (2001). Scaling knowledge production: how significant is the region? In Knowledge, Complexity and Innovation Systems (pp. 79–100). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.Google Scholar
  69. Lagendijk, A., & Cornford, J. (2000). Regional institutions and knowledge—tracking new forms of regional development policy. Geoforum, 31(2), 209–218.Google Scholar
  70. Lappalainen, E. P., Markkula, M., & Kune, H. (2015). Orchestrating Regional Innovation Ecosystems - Espoo Innovation Garden.Google Scholar
  71. Lee, S. Y., Florida, R., & Acs, Z. J. (2004). Creativity and entrepreneurship: a regional analysis of new firm formation. Regional Studies, 38(8), 879–891.Google Scholar
  72. Lundvall, B.-Å., Johnson, B., Andersen, E. S., & Dalum, B. (2002). National systems of production, innovation and competence building. Research Policy, 31(2), 213–231.Google Scholar
  73. Mahnke, V., Ambos, B., Nell, P. C., & Hobdari, B. (2012). How do regional headquarters influence corporate decisions in networked MNCs? Journal of International Management, 18(3), 293–301.Google Scholar
  74. Maine, E., & Garnsey, E. (2006). Commercializing generic technology: the case of advanced materials ventures. Research Policy, 35(3), 375–393.Google Scholar
  75. Malecki, E. J. (2007). Cities and regions competing in the global economy: knowledge and local development policies. Environment and Planning C-Government and Policy, 25(5), 638–654.Google Scholar
  76. Marcovich, A., & Shinn, T. (2011). From the triple helix to a quadruple helix? The case of dip-pen nanolithography. Minerva, 49(2), 175–190.Google Scholar
  77. Markkula, M., & Kune, H. (2015). Making smart regions Smarter: smart specialization and the role of universities in regional innovation ecosystems. Technology Innovation Management Review, 5(10), 7–15.Google Scholar
  78. Maskell, P., Eskelinen, H., Hannibalsson, I., Malmberg, A., & Vatne, E. (1998). Competitiveness. London: Routledge: localised learning and regional development.Google Scholar
  79. Massey, D. (2007). In what sense a regional problem? Reg Stud, 41, S49–S59. doi: 10.1177/017084068800900203.Google Scholar
  80. Mccann, P., & Ortega-Argilé, S. R. (2013). Redesigning and reforming European regional policy: the reasons, the logic, and the outcomes. International Regional Science Review, 36(3), 424–445.Google Scholar
  81. McCann, P., & Ortega-Argiles, R. (2013a). Modern regional innovation policy. Cambridge Journal of Regions Economy and Society, 6(2), 187–216.Google Scholar
  82. McCann, P., & Ortega-Argiles, R. (2013b). Transforming European regional policy: a results-driven agenda and smart specialization. Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 29(2), 405–431.Google Scholar
  83. Mccann, P., & Ortega-Argilés, R. (2015). Smart specialization, regional growth and applications to European Union cohesion policy. Regional Studies, 49(8), 1291–1302.Google Scholar
  84. Moore, J. (1993). Predators and prey - a new ecology of competition. Harvard Business Review.
  85. Moore, J. (1996). The Death of Competition: Leadership and Strategy in the Age of Business Ecosystems. Leadership.
  86. Morgan, K. J. (1997). The learning region: institutions, innovation and regional renewal. Regional Studies, 31(5), 491–503.Google Scholar
  87. Morrison, T. H. (2014). Developing a regional governance index: the institutional potential ofrural regions. Journal of Rural Studies, 35, 101–111.Google Scholar
  88. Nambisan, S., & Baron, R. A. (2013). Entrepreneurship in innovation ecosystems: entrepreneurs’ self-regulatory processes and their implications for new venture success. Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice, 37(5), 1071–1097.Google Scholar
  89. Nerkar, A. (2003). Old is gold? The value of temporal exploration in the creation of new knowledge. Management Science, 49(2), 211–229.Google Scholar
  90. Omta, S. W. F. (2004). Increasing the innovative potential in chains and networks. Journal on Chain and Network Science, 4(2), 75–81.Google Scholar
  91. Overholm, H. (2015). Collectively created opportunities in emerging ecosystems: the case of solar service ventures. Technovation, 39–40, 14–25.Google Scholar
  92. Panapanaan, V., Uotila, T., & Jalkala, A. (2014). Creation and alignment of the eco-innovation strategy model to regional innovation strategy: a case from Lahti (Paijat-Hame region), Finland. European Planning Studies, 22(6), 1212–1234.Google Scholar
  93. Perkmann, M., Neely, A., & Walsh, K. (2011). How should firms evaluate success in university-industry alliances? A performance measurement system. R and D Management, 41(2), 202–216.Google Scholar
  94. Perkmann, M., & Walsh, K. (2007). University-industry relationships and open innovation: towards a research agenda. International Journal of Management Reviews, 9(4), 259–280.Google Scholar
  95. Pisano, G. P., & Verganti, R. (2008). Which kind of collaboration is right for You? By Gary P. Pisano and Roberto Verganti. Harvard Business Review, 86(12), 78–86.Google Scholar
  96. Porter, M. (2003). The economic performance of regions. Regional Studies, 37(6–7), 545–546.Google Scholar
  97. Porter, M. E. (2000). Location, competition, and economic development: local clusters in a global economy. Economic Development Quarterly, 14(1), 15–34.Google Scholar
  98. Powell, W. W., Koput, K. W., & Smith-Doerr, L. (1996). Interorganizational collaboration and the locus of innovation: networks of learning in biotechnology. Administrative Science Quarterly, 41(1), 116–145.Google Scholar
  99. Rennings, K. (2000). Redefining innovation—eco-innovation research and the contribution from ecological economics. Ecological Economics, 32(2), 319–332.Google Scholar
  100. Romer, P. M. (1990). Endogenous technological change. Journal of Political Economy, 98(3210), s71–s102.Google Scholar
  101. Romijn, H., & Albaladejo, M. (2002). Determinants of innovation capability in small electronics and software firms in Southeast England. Research Policy, 31(7), 1053–1067.Google Scholar
  102. Rugman, A. M. A., & Verbeke, A. (2004). A perspective on regional and global strategies of multinational enterprises. Journal of International Business Studies, 35(1), 3–18.Google Scholar
  103. Samila, S., & Sorenson, O. (2010). Venture capital as a catalyst to commercialization. Res Policy, 39(10), 1348–1360. doi: 10.1016/j.respol.2010.08.006.Google Scholar
  104. Scott, A. J., & Storper, M. (2003). Regions, globalization, development. Regional Studies, 37, 579–593.Google Scholar
  105. Sotarauta, M. (2010). Regional development and regional networks: the role of regional development officers in Finland. European Urban and Regional Studies, 17(April), 387–400.Google Scholar
  106. Storper, M., & Venables, A. J. (2004). Buzz: face-to-face contact and the urban economy. Journal of Economic Geography, 4(4), 351–370.Google Scholar
  107. Tallman, S., Jenkins, M., Henry, N., & Pinch, S. (2004). Knowledge, clusters, and competitive advantage. Academy of Management Review, 29(2), 258–271.Google Scholar
  108. Tamásy, C. (2006). Determinants of regional entrepreneurship dynamics in contemporary Germany: a conceptual and empirical analysis. Reg Stud, 40(4), 365–384.Google Scholar
  109. Tirpak, T. M. (2008). The Global Brain: Your Roadmap for Innovating Faster and Smarter in a Networked World. Research Technology Management, 51(1)), 62 .Retrieved from Google Scholar
  110. Todtling, F. & Trippl, M. (2005). One size fits all?: towards a differentiated regional innovation policy approach. Research Policy, 34(8), 1203–1219.Google Scholar
  111. Tranfield, D., Denyer, D., & Smart, P. (2003). Towards a methodology for developing evidence-informed management knowledge by means of systematic review*. British Journal of Management, 14, 207–222.Google Scholar
  112. Van Der Niet, T., Peakall, R., & Johnson, S. D. (2014). Pollinator-driven ecological speciation in plants: new evidence and future perspectives. Annals of Botany, 113(2), 199–211. doi: 10.1093/aob/mct290.Google Scholar
  113. Wanzenböck, I., Scherngell, T., & Lata, R. (2014). Embeddedness of European regions in European Union-funded Research and Development (R&D) networks: a spatial econometric perspective. Regional Studies, 3404(June), 1–21.Google Scholar
  114. Wasserman, S., & Faust, K. (1994). Social Network Analysis:Methods and Applications.Google Scholar
  115. Werker, C., & Athreye, S. (2004). Marshall’s disciples: knowledge and innovation driving regional economic development and growth. Journal of Evolutionary Economics, 14(5), 505–523.Google Scholar
  116. Westley, F. R., Tjornbo, O., Schultz, L., Olsson, P., Folke, C., Crona, B., & Bodin, O. (2013). A theory of transformative agency in linked social-ecological systems. Ecology and Society, 18(3). doi: 10.5751/ES-05072-180327.
  117. Wolfe, D. A., & Gertler, M. S. (2004). Clusters from the inside and out: local dynamics and global linkages. Urban Studies, 41(5/6), 1071–1093.Google Scholar
  118. Wong, P. K., Ho, Y. P., & Autio, E. (2005). Entrepreneurship, innovation and economic growth: evidence from GEM data. Small Business Economics, 24(3), 335–350.Google Scholar
  119. Yeung, H. W. (2009). Regional development and the competitive dynamics of global production networks: an east Asian perspective. Regional Studies, 43(3), 325–351.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Beira InteriorCovilhãPortugal
  2. 2.Management and Economics Department CEFAGE-UBI Research CenterUniversity of Beira InteriorCovilhãPortugal

Personalised recommendations