Research Paper 33: Economic development and skills policy: what can we learn from Territorial Innovation Models and Territorial Knowledge Dynamics?


Laura James


In LLAKES research paper 29, James et al. (2011) discussed ideas about learning that have developed in the ‘cluster’ literature in economic geography. Drawing on the UK as a case study, this paper builds on that analysis by comparing the conceptualisations of learning that underpin conventional education and skills policy for the knowledge-based economy (KBE) with those which underpin territorial innovation models (TIMs) and the territorial knowledge dynamics (TKDs) approach. TIMs, which include ‘cluster’ models, have had a profound impact on regional development policy, and deploy the language of learning, knowledge creation and innovation. However, they have had little impact on skills and education policy making in the UK. Here, learning for the knowledge economy has been understood in terms of individuals acquiring measurable (credentialised) knowledge or skills through formal education and training, preferably in Science, Technology, Engineering or Maths (STEM) subjects, which are then transferred into the labour market. This paper argues that territorial innovation models provide a quite different perspective on learning for the KBE, which is based on the relationship between firms, regions and institutions, and which has been largely concerned with the identification of different knowledge types and the relative importance of regionalised socio-economic relations. The concept of TKDs has been advanced as an extension to the TIM literature, and the paper argues that this new approach has important implications for the development of appropriate education and skills policies for the knowledge based economy in the UK and the European Union.