Technology in the Garden: Research Parks and Regional Economic Development

Technology in the Garden: Research Parks and Regional Economic Development

Technology in the Garden: Research Parks and Regional Economic Development

Technology in the Garden: Research Parks and Regional Economic Development

Excerpt

Research parks have become a prominent element in state and regional development strategies in the United States, as well as in Western Europe and Japan, Australia, and many other developed countries. Also referred to as science parks and technology parks, they generally are intended to serve as a seedbed or catalyst for the development of a concentration of innovation- and technology-oriented business enterprises in a region or a state. In that sense, research parks are closely related in function to science cities, or technopoles, which are also becoming popular in some countries.

The widely accepted premise underlying the research park strategy is that a region's long-term economic viability will depend on its ability to generate and sustain a concentration of businesses capable of developing new products (or processes) that can penetrate international markets. For regions faced with a high concentration of older, declining manufacturing sectors, research parks have been viewed as a tool for facilitating economic restructuring. For other regions whose economies have been performing well, investments in research parks may represent a long-term insurance policy. In either case, the R&D- led economic development strategy, when successful, almost always leads to more than just employment growth and new business formation. It brings with it concomitant changes in occupational mix, wage, and salary structure; political culture; and spatial patterns of development. While many of these changes represent net benefits to the community and region, some of these can cause stress, particularly for older residents and members of the labor force who are employed in the traditional sectors. More generally, the benefits and costs of the induced economic development tend not to be shared equally among population groups.

Unlike Japan, France, and the Netherlands, for example, where central governments have played major roles in the creation and coordination of research parks and technopoles, the federal government in the United States has been involved only peripherally in research park development. The role of the federal government in subnational economic development policy-making in general has waned since the early 1980s. State and local governments have had to fill the void in policy-making responsibility. But they also have had to bear a much . . .

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