Not all peripheries are the same: The importance of relative regional innovativeness in transnational innovation networks
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionGrowth and Change. 2021, 1-37. 10.1111/grow.12585
This paper aims to test the hypothesis according to which “relative” innovativeness (regions scoring higher than the national average in innovation rankings, such as the Regional Innovation Scoreboard) is more important than “absolute” innovativeness (regions scoring higher than the European Union [EU] average) in determining the centrality and key positioning of EU regions in highly selective and competitive international innovation networks. The combined adoption of various social network analysis techniques and econometric models in the specific arena of the EU nanotechnology network created within the Horizon 2020 program confirms this hypothesis. However, additional graph visualization and brokerage analysis highlight how such relative innovators, holding key positions in the targeted network, hardly act as gatekeepers in the respective national contexts. A major implication of this study is that although relatively innovative regions may play a key role in transnational innovation networks, their inadequate action as gatekeepers represents a negative aspect for peripheral regions in general and especially in marginally innovative countries. This finding raises doubts about the actual increasing and more effective knowledge circulation between the surveyed regions to which the EU explicitly aspires.