GEOINNO2020 reflections by Eloïse Germain, Linköping University

The geography of innovation enables us to highlight differences between countries or regions, providing evidence for policy-makers´ decision-making. In practice, such differences challenge both top-down and bottom-up approaches in policy-making. Top-down approaches are often criticized for overlooking regional or local specificities that could prevent their efficacy in some places. Conversely, bottom-up approaches are criticized for being too difficult to implement and sustain.  At Geoinno2020, I found this tension between place-specific phenomena and one-size-fits-all policies palpable. Two presentations of particular interest here were:

  • Perception of tie importance and evolution of academics’ networks, by Rhoda Ahoba-Sam (University of Lincoln) and David Charles (Northumbria University). The authors’ qualitative study highlights factors driving individual academic networks’ evolution, notably geographical proximity, cognitive proximity, career evolution and regional path-dependency.
  • Potential of European universities as Marie Curie grantee hosts, by Martin Falk (Austrian Institute of Economic Research) and Eva Hagsten (Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth). This quantitative study highlights that research excellence is the most – or only – university feature explaining where Marie Curie (Individual Fellowship) are granted.

These two presentations, focusing on academic careers, relate to the challenges existing in doctoral education. PhD education tends to be increasingly standardized at national and European levels. However, doctoral education is by definition individual-specific, making implementing standardization quite difficult in practice. Moreover, increasingly standardized education could see doctorate holders less able to differentiate themselves in the labour market, particularly to reflect regional-specific settings.

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