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Regional Histories and the Cycle of Industrial Innovation: A Review of Some Recent Literature

Abstract

Most mainstream models that attempt to account for the local occurrence of innovative activity and the rate and pattern of its spatial diffusion build on an ahistorical method of inquiry borrowed from neo­ classical economics, an apparatus geared in any case toward explana­ tions of spatial economic convergence rather than regional differentia­ tion (cf. Hagerstrand 1 953; Berry 1 97 1 ; Krumme and Hayter 1 975; Nor­ ton and Rees 1 979). Disequilibrium theories that attempt to account for stubborn tendencies toward the spatial polarization of innovative activi­ ty in the real world also focus mainly on the explication of abstract eco­ nomic factors (in general, internal or external economies and disecono­ mies of scale) which may trigger or inhibit the interregional or interna­ tional transmission of growth (Myrdal 1 957; Vernon 1 966, 1 979; Krug­ man 1 979; Markusen 1 985). None of these theories accounts for the actual location of innovative activity, much less the influence that local culture and history may have on the innovative process. Even much of the radical literature tends to reduce evidence of local specificity to rigid displays of class structure; it is unabl_e, therefore, to admit any locally-specific non-class effects as factors in the historically-specific generation and diffusion of technological change (Biaikie 1 978; Gregory 1 985).

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