Smart specialization policy in the European Union: relatedness, knowledge complexity and regional diversification

Balland, P.A., Boschma, R., Crespo, J. and Rigby, D. (2018) Smart Specialization policy in the EU: Relatedness, Knowledge Complexity and Regional Diversification, Regional Studies, forthcoming.


The operationalization of smart specialization policy has been rather limited because a coherent set of analytical tools to guide the policy directives remains elusive. We propose a policy framework around the concepts of relatedness and knowledge complexity. We show that diversifying into more complex technologies is attractive but difficult for European Union regions to accomplish. Regions can overcome this diversification dilemma by developing new complex technologies that build on local related capabilities. We use these findings to construct a policy framework for smart specialization that highlights the potential risks and rewards for regions of adopting competing diversification strategies.

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