Innovation policies for regional structural change: Combining actor-based and system-based strategies

Arne Isaksen*, Franz Tödtling, Michaela Trippl

*Corresponding author for this work

Publication: Chapter in book/Conference proceedingChapter in edited volume


This chapter analyses opportunities and challenges for regional innovation policies designed to promote new path development in different types of regional innovation systems (RISs). RISs differ enormously in their capacity to develop new growth paths due to pronounced differences in endogenous potentials and varying abilities to attract and absorb exogenous sources for new path development. We distinguish between different types of regional industrial path development, which reflect various degrees of radicalness of regional structural change. The chapter offers a conceptual analysis of conditions and influences that enable and constrain new path development in different types of RISs and outlines the contours of policy strategies that are suitable for promoting new path development in different RISs. Regarding policy strategies, a distinction is drawn between system-based and actor-based policy approaches. System-based strategies aim to improve the functioning of the RIS by targeting system failures, promoting local and non-local knowledge flows and adapting the organizational and institutional set-up of the RIS. Actorbased strategies, in contrast, support entrepreneurs and innovation projects by firms and other stakeholders. We argue that both strategies will have only a limited impact on regional economic change when applied alone. However, if they are combined, they are well suited to promote new path development. The chapter discusses which specific combinations of system-based and actor-based policy strategies matter for different types of RISs.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNew Avenues for Regional Innovation Systems
Subtitle of host publicationTheoretical Advances, Empirical Cases and Policy Lessons
EditorsA. Isaksen, R. Martin, M. Trippl
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9783319716619
ISBN (Print)9783319716602
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Springer International Publishing AG 2018. All rights reserved.

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 507023 Location development
  • 502039 Structural policy
  • 502014 Innovation research
  • 507011 Spatial research
  • 507014 Regional development
  • 507
  • 507016 Regional economy


  • Actor-based policy strategy
  • New path development
  • Regional innovation policy
  • System-based policy strategy
  • Thick ris
  • Thin RIS

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