The challenges of implementation of smart specialisation strategies in less developed European regions

Marques, P.
Public Policy Portuguese Journal

Debates about regional development in the European Union have been in recent years dominated by the concept of smart specialisation (RIS3), and its emphasis on prioritisation, innovation and inclusive governance mechanisms. So far, academic research has evaluated the impact of this policy by focusing on the extent to which the principles of RIS3 are reflected in regional strategies. However, many of these evaluations focus on the technical aspects of smart specialisation, namely whether priorities reflect economic specialisations, rather than on the processes that explain policy outcomes. This paper uses four case studies to examine how the interaction between state and non-state actors at different geographical scales has shaped the implementation of RIS3. We argue that in our case studies there has been essentially policy continuity with only a small number of institutional or policy discontinuities as a result of smart specialisation.