Innovations as driving force of the knowledge society – concepts and contemporary theoretical approaches
In response to the question what secures Europe’s future competitiveness, it is often in the context of “knowledge society” referred to location advantages for research and development (R&D), innovation and knowledge. Respective point of view is not only represented by decision makers of high-duty industrial countries, but also by so called catching up economies in Central and Eastern Europe as well as Asia. The present article deals against the background of current innovation theoretic approaches with the question of what indeed constitutes the abstract notion of the knowledge society, which actors play a role and how R&D and innovation are geographically distributed. Systemic approaches are outlined, which place emphasis on the relation among different knowledge generating actors, in particular among science and economy. In effort to elucidate the geographical distribution of R&D and innovation the authors refer to the regional economic theory, which constitute the reasons why such processes are marked by spatial concentration. Thereby, the hypotheses are competing in associating the spatial concentration with either sectoral specialization or diversification. The article shows the domination of multinational companies of research and development (R&D) in the private sector and that these businesses connect regional centers of innovations beyond national borders. Based on the theory of technological accumulation and internationalization of companies, the globalization of R&D and innovation processes are explained. Thereby, it must be recognized that a hierarchy of regional innovation systems is emerging in which the disparities are increasing both at home and abroad.