Knowledge Spillovers as a Central Element in Theories about Knowledge-Based Regional Development: Advancement in Theory and Obstacles for Empirical Research
As scientists and policymakers tend to interpret changes in the economy as a trend towards an increasingly knowledge-based economy, their recommendations and strategies for regional economic development frequently contain elements how to intensify the knowledge flows in the region concerned. Knowledge flows come into existence from intentional action, but also in an unintended way as externalities or knowledge spillovers. This paper reviews the ways regional and urban economics has dealt with the concept of knowledge spillovers. Knowledge spillovers are defined within a conceptual framework that points out different uses of knowledge in economics. The concept’s operationalisations in diverse empirical studies are systematised and discussed. After a critical review of the current state of research, policy strategies aiming to intensify knowledge spillovers are classified. The paper concludes with an outlook on promising new approaches to research knowledge spillovers and on the elaboration of more efficient policy strategies.