Flexible specialisation, clusters and industrial districts and 'second' and 'third generation' regional policies

Bert Helmsing

Research output: Working paperAcademic

7 Downloads (Pure)


This paper observes that the conceptual bases for local regional industrial
policies has been undergoing substantial changes. A distinction is made between
several generations of policies. The ‘first generation’ of regional policies was based on
the importance of exogenous growth factors. The ‘second generation’ of policies
focussed on local endogenous factors. The theoretical base supporting these policies
received strong impulses since the mid-80s from new insights derived from flexible
specialization and industrial districts literature. A new and ‘third generation’ of policies
is emerging that goes beyond endogenous growth, and seeks to superceed the division
between exogenous and endogenously oriented policies. The analysis of growth and
competitiveness has moved from the firm itself, and clusters of firms and to incorporate
basic and institutional conditions fostering growth. This article provides an overview of
contributions to the theory of regional industrial development underlying second and
third generations of regional policies. A distinction is made between macro-regional
theories and those that have an industrial organization and district focus. The review
includes a selected number of case studies drawn mainly from Europe and Latin
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationDen Haag
PublisherInternational Institute of Social Studies (ISS)
Number of pages62
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1999

Publication series

SeriesISS working papers. General series


  • ISS Working Paper-General Series


Dive into the research topics of 'Flexible specialisation, clusters and industrial districts and 'second' and 'third generation' regional policies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this