The type of regional innovation system (RIS) strongly affects possibilities of paths of industrial transformation. This paper argues that traditional manufacturing districts, corresponding to specialized RISs and characterised by various nuclei of specialization and know-how, may foster different trajectories in combination with extra-regional networks. In particular, the paper analyses the interplay between regional and national innovation systems, providing an overview of the effect that different multilevel dynamics have on local trajectories. The cases of the textile districts in Prato (Italy) and Borås (Sweden) show SRISs can display not only path extension but also path renewal and creation strategies.
Chaminade C., Bellandi M., Plechero M. & Santini E. (2019) Understanding processes of path renewal and creation in thick specialized regional innovation systems. Evidence from two textile districts in Italy and Sweden. European Planning Studies, 1-17.
Professor at the Department of Economic History
Lund University, Sweden
The interview transcript
Hi welcome to coffee break with researchers.
Today I’m having a coffee break with Cristina Chaminade, she is a Professor at the Department of Economic History at Lund University in Sweden and she has a particular expertise in globalization of innovation
Hello Cristina, thank you for accepting my invitation to my coffee break. How are you doing?
Thank you, I’m doing well, thanks Lorena. I’m having today a Colombian black coffee, which one are you having?
I’m having a Swedish coffee, which is very strong, so I’m having it with a lot of milk.
I’m haven’t tried that one, and it would be really good to try. Today, I want to talk with you about one of you recent papers, in which you study the path renewal of textile regions in Sweden and Italy. Could you please tell me what the paper was about?
Yeah, we are trying to analyze and discuss whether processes of transformation are possible in regions that are highly specialized in one industry. And we are looking at Prato and Boros, they are two regions in Italy and Sweden, respectively and they are highly specialized in the textile industry, and have been for centuries.
This is a very interesting topic, could you tell me your main findings?
Well, the main findings are that path renewal and creation is possible and this goes a little bit against what the literature tells us.
Usually if you are very specialized there are more limited possibilities for path creation and renewal, and we found that it is possible, but there are three conditions that need to be in place.
One is that there is variety within the specialization, the other one is that there are extra regional networks and the third one is that we need a certain degree of alignment between regional policies and national policies.
Is there any reason why you chose Italy and Sweden?
Yeah, this was part of a European Union Project and there were many regions in the project, but I had the opportunity to be in Italy for six months, and that was very good because I could be part of the interviews also there.
So it was a very interesting case also because both of them were specialized in textiles. So we could choose the same industry into regions in Europe and look at these processes of transformation.
So there was a bit of a personal motivation in doing this, right?
Or did you have any other driver in doing your research?
Yeah, this was this European Union project, but of course, Italy is always very appealing for us living in the North.
So it was very nice to be able to spend the spring time in Italy and conduct the interviews there. So there was a personal motivation.
Which challenges did you have in doing them?
Yeah, there was some important challenges that had to do with securing the interviews. We were expecting that it would be much easier to secure the interviews in Sweden and not so much in Italy.
But in the end, it resulted that it was the other way around, it was much easier to conduct the interviews in Italy and much more difficult to secure the interviews in Sweden.
Wow, I wouldn’t expect that either. So do you have any implication for policy making based on your research? The main implication is related to this coordination between these regional and national policies.
For example, in the case of Sweden was very clear that they adopted a very radical proposal of transformation and for that they got the support from the regional government and national government.
And they were very aligned and provided all the support for the transformation.
In the case of Italy, the regional government is supporting the business as usual, in Italy while the national government is more willing to support these novel manufacturers, these novel entrepreneurs.
So there is a lack of alignment between the regional and the national policies, which actually prevents or hinders the transformation processes in Prato.
Do you have any potential path for future research in this field?
Yeah, actually one of the spill over of this project in Italy, was to try to look at processes of transformation in this case, in the wine industry and we wanted to look at the role of international consumers, in this case, Swedish consumers supporting this transformation. That is the next step in the process.
Looking forward to that paper already, I wish you all the best for your future research and thank you very much for having this nice chat with me.
Hope to see you next time in my next coffee break.
Thank you very much, bye-bye.
Thank you for watching, if you are interested in more details about this research find here the link to the academic publication.
Bye-byeTags: industrial, innovation system, knowledge, path development, policy, Regional, textile