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Designing 'context-specific' regional innovation policy: a study on the role of regional government in six European regions

Whilst government’s ability to design ‘context-specific’ regional innovation policy is generally assumed to depend on the region’s decision-making power, the aim of this study is to investigate how regional government matters. In order to open up the black box of policy design, the study develops a Public Administration framework to conceptualise the different roles of regional government theoretically and applies this framework to capture these roles empirically in six European regions. The study employs a descriptive, multiple-case study research method comparing six regions, three German and three British regions, part of two very different government system types. Qualitative data have been gathered from an existing dataset through archival records research and documentation analysis.

Fabienne Corvers
03 July 2019
Leiden Repository

The assumption that regions endowed with formal decision-making power are better at contextualised policy design is not confirmed in this study. Instead, among the six case studies a great variety of regional government roles in policy design was found (covering 15 of the 16 theoretical role possibilities) irrespective of government system type. In addition, each of the six regions engaged in multiple roles throughout the policy process (ranging from 3 to 9 regional government roles per region) to succeed at designing their ‘context-specific’ regional innovation policy. With the empirical variety being far greater than theory assumes, this study concludes that understanding how policy comes about requires a differentiated conceptualisation of the role of regional government in policy design. The study generates new insights about ‘context-specific’ regional innovation policy and makes an important contribution to better understanding the role of regional government as a policy-making actor to develop such a policy.


Supervisor: T.A.J. Toonen
Co-Supervisor: P. Nijkamp

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