Are the geographies of innovation and production converging or diverging? An assessment of high tech employment in regional economies in the US
To understand the processes of growth and change within regional economies researchers periodically engage in the evaluation and categorization of those regions. The resulting typologies serve to shape perceptions regarding key industries (e.g. biotechnology, IT) and successful regions (e.g. Silicon Valley, Boston). However, these discourses of knowledge production and localized innovation rarely connect to the underlying narratives of regional growth and decline either in theory or in practice. Since 2007, there is a renewed interest in mapping the long-term economic trends in US regions motivated by questions about the origins and effects of the global recession. To merge the discussions of the spatial distribution of innovation and production, I turn a theoretical framework provided by the emerging discussion of “evolutionary economic geography” (EEG). EEG provides an analytical approach to regional economies which balances innovation against job creation rather than privileging technology over production. First, I begin by tracing six regions through a set of historical analyses of regional economies used to develop influential typologies. I then trace those regions through the “typology of innovation districts” project to ascertain their current position as innovative regions relative to other US regions. Finally, I analyze these six regions using recent employment data. The findings indicate that the geographies of innovation and production may be diverging rather than converging in the US presenting a challenge for regional development policy.