European urban and regional studies vol:12 issue:1 pages:45-64
The purpose of this paper is to launch a debate on a broader meaning of the term 'innovation' and its significance for local and regional development. Innovation and related economic and social categories have been at the centre of policy discussions on the future of the European economy and society. Reflections on the innovative and learning region (Territorial Innovation Models; TIMs) have underpinned regional and local development policies. Yet dissatisfaction with the technologist and market-competition-led development concept of the TIMs is growing and today its shortcomings are well known. But to formulate an alternative based on a different ontology requires a multidimensional reflection on the pillars of territorial development. The first section briefly refers to the critical evaluations of the literature on regional innovation and the so-called Territorial Innovation Models. The second section returns to basic questions about the meaning of regional economic development and innovation. It puts forward community development based on social innovation as an alternative to market-led territorial development. The third section examines the consequences of the community ontology for the definition of a number of basic concepts. Categories such as capital, knowledge, learning, evolution, culture and so on receive a different meaning in a model where the economic is only one dimension of the overall dynamics of community development. The fourth section integrates the role of power relations and the articulation between various spatial scales and institutional settings into the community-development approach. The final section dwells on the consequences of this community-oriented territorial approach for contemporary research agendas on local and regional development policies and strategies.