Is there a “new learning economy”? Do regions and cities play new roles in terms of governance and intervention in order to promote learning, innovation, productivity and economic performance at the local level? Such questions are high on the political agenda everywhere. This publication, which views the debate from the perspective of a regional learning economy, clearly answers in the affirmative. The emergence of new forms of knowledge-based economic activity and learning and their differing impact on various regions indicate that the abundant evidence of a shift towards the globalisation of economic processes does not mean that differences among regions are disappearing. On the contrary, a key issue is how patterns of various types of learning are implicated in the complex interaction between global and local processes. Of central importance is the idea that “learning regions” and “learning cities”, which are especially well attuned to the requirements of the new learning economy, may be fostered through the development of appropriate strategies of public governance and intervention.
This publication analyses the relationships between various forms of learning and economic performance at the regional level and provides rather strong evidence of the importance of individual and firm-level organisational learning for regions’ economic performance. Case studies of five regions and cities indicate that social capital – in terms of social networks and social conventions and norms – affects both individual and organisational learning. In particular, they give many examples of the ways in which a low stock of social capital can impede learning. Furthermore, regions need to be able to respond positively to emerging economic and social conditions, especially where this involves the “unlearning” of inappropriate practices and bodies of knowledge left over from “old” regional institutions.
Edquist, C., Rees, G., Larsen. K., Lorenzen, M., and Vincent-Lancrin, S. (2oo1). Cities and Regions in the New Learning Economy. Paris, France: Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI) ─ Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 147 pp.