Coordinators: Muhamed Kudic
University of Siegen, Germany
Claudius Gräbner
University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany


As for today, the relevance of the accumulation of knowledge both for growth and development on the national and regional level, as well as for the business success on the firm level has been documented by numerous empirical investigations from distinct economic paradigms (e.g. Romer 1990, Hidalgo & Hausmann 2009, Tacchella et al. 2013). At the same time, differentials in the accumulation of knowledge might be an important element in any explanation of large and persistent economic disparities at the national and regional level both within and across nation states, in Europe as well as overseas.

Consequently, researchers from various scientific disciplines started to complement the classical literature in regional economics by developing new concepts that refer to the accumulation and utilization of knowledge to explain regional disparities and legitimize economic policy intervention from a systemic perspective. It is one aim of the proposed research area to provide an explicit space for this important discussion both at the annual conference of EAEPE as well as at regularly organized workshops.

The panels of the RA will be organized in a way that both presenters and the audience benefit from a constructive and appreciative discussion. This includes, whenever feasible, the organization of short co-presentations to each paper presentation, a moderated discussion with the audience, and the invitation of well-known keynote speakers.

Theoretical foundations

Neither individual economic actors nor firms or other types of organizations act in isolation. Instead economic entities are typically interconnected in multiple ways. Research on cooperation and networks has been a central topic in social sciences for several years. The diversity of possible forms of networks is remarkable ranging from interpersonal networks (e.g. inventor networks) to intra-organizational networks (e.g. in knowledge transfer channels in transnational companies) and inter-organizational networks (e.g. sectorally and spatially defined innovation networks) up to international trade network (e.g. exchange of goods between nations).

In the Schumpeterian literature, the co-creation of novelty through cooperation and networks plays a particularly important role (Kudic 2015). An important motive for cooperation, among many others, is information/knowledge transfer, initialization of interorganizational learning processes, and the creation of innovation. This approach acknowledges the heterogeneity, bounded rationality, and strategic orientation of the actors involved (Hanusch & Pyka 2006). The systemic view is a core element of this strand of literature (Nelson et al. 2018). The intersection – to the field of evolutionary economic geography – deserves to be emphasized against the background of our positioning in terms of content (Boschma, 2005)

Important theoretical and conceptual foundations for the legitimation of regional policy interventions come from the innovation system perspective as associated with Lundvall (1992) and the regional innovation system approach (Braczyk et al., 1998). Since then, the complex-adaptive system perspective has become increasingly established among scholars and policy makers alike (see, e.g., the placed-based approach and the smart specialization strategy of the EU). These programs emphasize the central role of knowledge and innovation and explicitly account for regional characteristics and potential systemic imperfections (Toedtling & Trippl, 2005) when they call for individualized economic policy interventions for specific regions (Pyka et al. 2019).

However, the success of such policies is by no means guaranteed: the economic development patterns among EU27 countries over the past decades, for instance, have been considerably uneven despite the attempts of the EU to foster convergence via the European Commission's cohesion policy (e.g. Gräbner et al. 2020a,b). In other words, we are still confronted with numerous open questions when it comes to understanding how knowledge relates to regional development, what is the role of institutions and system failures or how regional policy interventions can be used to foster egalitarian development. These topics were taken up not only in distinct economic paradigms in the past, including evolutionary, structualist, Post-Keynesian or dependency theoretical approaches, but also outside of economics in geography or sociology.

RA X provides a space to discuss these challenges and their potential solutions, and invites contributions from various disciplines and paradigms. Through the contributions the RA tries to foster our understanding of the micro processes that determine the dynamics and the functioning of regional innovation systems and networks, the relevance of the macroeconomic framework conditions as well as the interdependence of micro and macro mechanisms.

Contributions to the RA consider different analytical levels such as:

  • the individual actors of the system,
  • various types of relationships among these actors, and
  • the institutions guiding the behavior of the actors in the system as well as the relevance of systemic dynamics impacting upon the individual actors in the system.

Such perspective is in line with the general approach of systemism (Bunge 2000) and, thereby, inclusive to numerous economic and non-economic paradigms (Gräbner & Kapeller 2017). Thus, even though we emphasize the merits of a complex adaptive systems perspective for understanding the functioning of regional innovation systems, we are open to complementary theoretical approaches and follow a multi-method philosophy.

Possible contributions

 In summary, the research area welcomes submission on the following broad set of topics, but also other issues that are related to the overall topic of the RA. Panels will be organized around more focused topics, depending on the particular submissions received.

  • What is the role of knowledge creation and diffusion for regional development and to what extent can it explain national and international inequalities?
  • How can an innovation systems perspective contribute to a better understanding of regional knowledge creation and utilization processes?
  • What kind of policies can be implemented to foster regional development and reduce inter-regional disparities?
  • What is the role of different networks (e.g. producers, consumers, science organizations, civil society) in this context?
  • What role do individualistitic and systemic factors play for regional development respectively?
  • What role do incumbents (e.g. well-established firms) and newcomers (e.g. start-ups) play for regional development?
  • How can we identify system failures in technological, sectoral or regional innovation systems?
  • What are the insights from innovation systems research concerning the exploration of new technological opportunities?
  • What determines innovation processes in rural and metropolitan regions?
  • Do digital technologies influence the emergence, the development and the composition of innovation systems?
  • How can regional innovation systems stay innovative when they face disruptive technological change?

From a methodological point of view, the research in this area is not restricted to a specific analytical approach. We are open to a variety of methodologies such as:

  • Qualitative and quantitative analytical methods,
  • social network analysis methods,
  • numerical and stochastic agent-based simulations,
  • iterated and evolutionary game theoretical approaches,
  • experimental methods,
  • historical and institutional analyses.

Previous activities (selection)

Special Sessions at EAEPE Annual Conferences

‘Structuration processes in complex dynamic systems – theory, methods and economic implications’, Special Session, at: The 27th EAEPE Annual Conference, 17 - 19 September 2015, Genoa, Italy

Organizing team: Claudius Gräbner, Torsten Heinrich, Muhamed Kudic

Keynote speaker: Frank Schweitzer (ETH Zürich)

RA[X] Workshop series

The 1st EAEPE RA[X] Workshop, on: ‘New frontiers and methodological advances in cooperation and network research’ 3 November 2015, Essen, Germany.

CfP and Programme

Organizing team: Muhamed Kudic (local host), Sidonia von Proff 

The 2nd EAEPE RA[X] Workshop, on: ‘New frontiers in entrepreneurship, innovation and transformation research’, 28 - 29 November 2016, Bochum, Germany.

CfP and Programme

Organizing team: Michael Roos (local host), Sidonia von Proff, Muhamed Kudic, Jutta Günther 

Keynote speaker: Ron Boschma (University of Utrecht, Lund University), Bart Verspagen (UNU-MERIT, Maastricht)


The 3rd EAEPE RA[X] Workshop, on: ‘The role of innovation networks for sustainable economic development’, 30 November - 1 December 2017, Bremen, Germany.

Organizing team: Jutta Günther (local host), Daniel Schiller, Muhamed Kudic, Tobias Wendler

Keynote speaker: Wolfram Elsner (University of Bremen)


The 4th EAEPE RA[X] Workshop, on: ‘New ways of innovation policy design and its evaluation – insights from complex adaptive systems and beyond’, 15-16 November 2018, Budapest; Hungary.

CfP and Programme

Organizing team: Martina Eckardt (local host), Jutta Günther, Muhamed Kudic, Andreas Pyka, Jutta Sehic

Keynote speaker: Dominique Foray (‎Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale Lausanne), Michael Fritsch (Friedrich Schiller University, Jena)

The 5th EAEPE RA[X] Workshop, on: ‘The role of innovation networks in economic transformation processes’, 21-22 November 2019, Stuttgart, Germany.

CfP and Programme

Organizing team: Tobias Buchmann (local host), Muhamed Kudic, Jutta Günther, Andreas Pyka

Keynote speaker: Paolo Saviotti (INRA, Université Pierre Mendès-France), Mark Knell (NIFU Norway)


Special Issues (in peer-reviewed Journals)

Gräbner, C., Heinrich, T., Kudic. M., Vermeulen, B. (2018): ‘Dynamics of and on Networks’. Special Issue, in: International Journal of Computational Economics and Econometrics.

Kudic, M., Mueller, M., Buchmann, T., Pyka, A., Guenther, J. (2021): Networks dynamics, economic transition, and policy design. Special Issue, in: Review of Evolutionary Political Economy.


Planned activities

 The 6th EAEPE RA[X] Workshop, on: ‘Knowledge, Networks and Regions’, 2021, Volos Greece.

Organizing team: Yeoryios Stamboulis (local host), Muhamed Kudic, Claudius Gräbner, Andreas Pyka

Keynote speaker: tba




Boschma, R. (2005). Proximity and Innovation: A Critical Assessment. Regional Studies, 39(1), 61–74.

Bunge, M. (2000). Systemism: the alternative to individualism and holism. The Journal of Socio-Economics, 29(2), 147–157.

Braczyk, H. J., Cooke P. & Heidenreich M. (Eds., 1998). Regional Innovation Systems; The Role of Governances in a Globalized World. London and New York: Routledge.

Gräbner, C., & Kapeller, J. (2017). The Micro-Macro Link in Heterodox Economics. In T.-H. Jo, L. Chester, & C. D’Ippolliti (Eds.), The Handbook of Heterodox Economics (pp. 145–159). Routledge.

Gräbner, C., Heimberger, P., Kapeller, J., & Schütz, B. (2020). Is the Eurozone disintegrating? Macroeconomic divergence, structural polarisation, trade and fragility. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 49(3), 3.

Gräbner, C., Heimberger, P., Kapeller, J., & Schütz, B. (2020). Structural change in times of increasing openness: assessing path dependency in European economic integration. Journal of Evolutionary Economics, 30(5), 1467–1495.

Hanusch, H., & Pyka, A. (2006). Principles of Neo-Schumpeterian Economics. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 31(2), 275–289.

Hidalgo, C., & Hausmann, R. (2009). The building blocks of economic complexity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(26), 10570–10575.

Kudic, M. (2015). Innovation networks in the German laser industry – evolutionary change, strategic positioning and firm innovativeness. Berlin. Heidelberg, New York: Springer.

Nelson, R. R., Dosi, G., Helfat, C. E., Pyka, A., Saviotti, P. P., Lee, K., Dopfer, K., Malerba, F., & Winter, S. G. (Eds., 2018). Modern Evolutionary Economics. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Pyka, A., Kudic, M., & Müller, M. (2018). Systemic interventions in regional innovation systems: entrepreneurship, knowledge accumulation and regional innovation. Regional Studies, 53(9), 1321–1332.

Romer, P. (1990). Endogenous Technological Change. Journal of Political, 98(5), 243–250.

Tacchella, A., Cristelli, M., Caldarelli, G., Gabrielli, A., & Pietronero, L. (2013). Economic complexity: Conceptual grounding of a new metrics for global competitiveness. Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, 37(8), 1683–1691.

Tödtling, F., & Trippl, M. (2005). One size fits all? Towards a differentiated regional innovation policy approach. Research Policy, 34(8), 1203–1219.