Slow innovation in Europe’s peripheral regions

Innovation processes are often conceptualized with an urban bias and are therefore theorized solely considering the perspective of the urban environment (e.g. close face-to-face contacts, dense urban milieus, fast interactions between a multitude and diverse actors, etc.). As a result, innovation theories do not sufficiently consider the context of the periphery and how this context – or even different types of peripheries – may foster or hinder the development of innovative products, technologies and services. In the meantime, economic geographers started to conceptualize innovation processes in peripheral locations as “slow innovation” (Shearmur, 2015, 2017; Shearmur & Doloreux, 2016), but their focus has mainly been quantitative and they have not developed deep insights into the ways innovators work in the peripheral context. This paper seeks to illuminate the concept of slow innovation with a particular focus on the ways in which innovators utilize processes that rely more on their internal capacities while at the same time experimenting with novel techniques, processes, technologies, etc. Furthermore, slow innovators seem to utilize experimentation with novel ideas in ways that are free and undisturbed. The paper is based on extensive fieldwork in the European Alps and utilizes interview data from peripheral mountain regions in Italy, Austria and Switzerland.

Discussant: Chad Alan Goldberg

PLACES: Session 2