Edited by

Marta Gancarczyk, Jagiellonian University, Poland
Anna Ujwary-Gil, Polish Academy of Sciences, Institute of Economics, Poland
Manuel González-López, University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Call for abstracts is open from August 1 to October 30, 2019
Deadline for submissions of full chapters is June 30, 2020
The year of publication: 2021

The European Union regional and innovation policies have been converging into one policy framework that aims to accomplish cohesion through the development of innovation (Asheim, 2019; González-López, Asheim, & Sánchez-Carreira, 2019). The major conceptual basis for this framework is smart specialization (SS) defined as a specialized diversification based on region-specific capacities and region-specific entrepreneurial opportunities to enable sustainable growth (Foray, 2014, 2017; Rodrik, 2014; McCann & Ortega-Argilés, 2016; Foray, Morgan, & Radosevic, 2017). This concept promotes the regional new path creation through developing higher value adding and more technology advanced activities (Grillitsch, & Asheim, 2018). The enabling tool in this regard are technological fields, such as ICT technologies, rather than industries only (D’Adda et al., 2018; Iacobucci & Guzzini, 2016). The regional industrial path development can be accomplished through upgrading, diversifying the extant industrial profile, and the emergence of radically new industries (Asheim, 2019; Isaksen et al., 2019). Another critical dimension of SS are entrepreneurial discovery and expansion, which point to the currently developing framework of entrepreneurial ecosystems as an auxiliary idea for the regional transformation and growth (Stam, 2015).

When progressing from the industrial policy approach to a comprehensive framework that guides regional and innovation policies, SS expanded its scope. It requires a holistic approach that acknowledges a complex regional context for the industrial transformation as well as international and global environments (Hassink, Isaksen, & Trippl, 2019). Consequently, new regional path creation through SS should engage social and political processes, such as bottom-up initiatives of communities and organizations and multi-level governance of local, regional, as well as national and cross-border agents. Regions and clusters are facing the challenge of specializing smartly within global production networks and global value chains (Gancarczyk & Gancarczyk, 2018; Gancarczyk, 2015).

Smart specialization rapidly transformed from the concept to the EU innovation policies and measures based on the Structural Funds (Estensoro & Larrea, 2016). Therefore, its conceptual development and implementation as a policy were interrelated and mutually reinforcing processes made by trial and error. The advancements in the theory and practice of SS are mainly based on the experience in formulating the regional smart specialization strategy (3S), implementing 3S at the level of regions and countries, and evaluations of the EU funding in the area of 3S and subordinated policies, such as R+D, industrial diversification, and innovation policies (Reimeris, 2016; Iacobucci & Guzzini, 2016; Radosevic et al., 2017; Crescenzi et al., 2018; Cai et al. 2018; Varga, 2018; D’Adda et al., 2018). The SS concept emphasizes a bottom up approach in formulating and implementing the policies (Foray, 2016; McCann and Ortega-Argilés, 2016). Nevertheless, the extant research and policy analysis focus on country, regional or local levels and micro-foundations of 3S are underexplored (Grillitsch, 2018; Aranguren et al. 2018; Grillitsch & Asheim, 2018; Borrás & Jordana, 2016). Consequently, there is a research gap in investigating how 3S is designed and implemented at the level of firms and networks (Grillitsch & Asheim, 2018; Grillitsch, 2018; Ujwary-Gil, 2019; Ujwary-Gil, 2017).

The implementation of 3S is still a vital issue, since it has been started ahead of the operationalization of the concept (Rodrik, 2014; McCann & Ortega-Argilés, 2016; Foray, Morgan, & Radosevic, 2017; Estensoro & Larrea, 2016). Therefore, theory and practice are mutually reinforcing and require the on-going synthesis (Capello & Kroll, 2016). The book intends to address the research and policy gaps of how to implement regional smart specialization strategies. It seeks to accomplish it by linking 3S with its micro-foundations in entrepreneurial growth, firms‘ knowledge management and innovation, as well as clusters and collaborative networks of private and public actors. The book will give input to knowledge accumulation in SS, since it will discuss the essence and evolution of this concept and policy practice. Moreover, innovation policy case studies as well as the empirical evidence at enterprise-, cluster- and network-levels will offer practical implications relevant for business and regional innovation policy.

The aim of the planned monograph is to present the micro-foundations of 3S by providing the conceptual background and empirical evidence of how SS policies are implemented through entrepreneurial growth, firms‘ knowledge management and innovation, as well as clusters and collaborative networks of private and public actors. The general argument of the book states that the successful implementation of 3S depends on linking the regional and innovation policies with the bottom-up activities of enterprises and their networks, as well as with initiatives of private and public actors. Its unique value will be in integrating policy-level considerations with entrepreneurial growth and innovation strategies of individual firms, clusters, and collaborative networks.

We invite first of all empirical, but also conceptual and review chapters that will address at least one of the following questions:

  1. What are the current theoretical developments and practical experiences in the design and implementation of 3S at the regional and national levels?
  2. How is 3S implemented at the micro-level of firms, clusters, and networks?
  3. How is the smart specialization concept reflected in the strategies and activities of firms, clusters, and networks?
  4. How does 3S foster the growth and effectiveness of firms, clusters, and networks?
  5. What are the policy lessons from the implementation of 3S at the micro-level?

The methodology of empirical chapters can include quantitative (surveys, analyses of secondary data) and qualitative (case studies) approaches, as well as literature reviews. When considering the methodological approach to the research on implementing 3S, we need to acknowledge that ex post evaluations are rare as yet. However, the theoretical lenses of smart specialization can be used to investigate the earlier programs and policies as well as strategies of clusters, firms, and networks. We can extrapolate from this historical experience towards new SS-based policies and strategies as well as evaluate the adaptability and feasibility of 3S (Crescenzi et al., 2018). The investigation would focus on how the experience of firms, networks, clusters, as well as the experience of country and regional policies match with the concept of SS (a pattern-matching approach) and how they can inform it.

The papers that elaborate on one of the major themes below are particularly welcome:

  1. Regional and innovation policies focused on smart specialization: comparative research and regional case studies

This thematic area intends to present the current experience in the design and implementation of 3S, based on regional and national case studies as well as comparative research. One of the most severe challenges is to adopt a bottom-up approach to setting and realizing smart policies, therefore, we encourage sharing the experience on methods, drivers and drawbacks in this area.

  1. Smart enterprise growth, knowledge governance, and innovation strategies in the regional context

This theme will explore the experience of firms in implementing 3S projects. We will investigate the impact of 3S policy measures on the growth of firms. Another important point of investigation will be the usefulness and suitability of the SS concept for designing the growth strategies of firms. Each chapter needs to provide the implications for policy and business practice.

  1. Smart enterprise networks and clusters: linking the business and public actors

This part will focus on the 3S design and implementation at the level of clusters and networks of private and public actors. We will explore the suitability of 3S as a growth concept for these groupings of organizations. Moreover, we will investigate how the measures of 3S policies affect the growth and effectiveness of clusters and networks. Each chapter will be concluded with the implications for policy and business practice.

The abstracts of chapter proposals of 500-700 words should be submitted to Marta Gancarczyk (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), Anna Ujwary-Gil (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), and Manuel González-López (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) by October 30, 2019. Please use an Abstract Proposal Template in the attachment.


  • Aranguren, M. J., Magro, E., Navarro, M., & Wilson, J. R. (2019). Governance of the territorial entrepreneurial discovery process: looking under the bonnet of RIS3. Regional Studies, 53(4), 451-461.
  • Asheim, B. T. (2019). Smart specialisation, innovation policy and regional innovation systems: what about new path development in less innovative regions?. Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research, 32(1), 8-25.
  • Borrás, S., & Jordana, J. (2016). When regional innovation policies meet policy rationales and evidence: a plea for policy analysis. European Planning Studies, 24(12), 2133-2153.
  • Cai, Y., Normann, R., Pinheiro, R., & Sotarauta, M. (2018). Economic specialization and diversification at the country and regional level: introducing a conceptual framework to study innovation policy logics. European Planning Studies, 26(12), 2407-2426.
  • D’Adda, D., Guzzini, E., Iacobucci, D., & Palloni, R. (2019). Is Smart Specialisation Strategy coherent with regional innovative capabilities?. Regional Studies, 53(7), 1004-1016.
  • Estensoro, M., & Larrea, M. (2016). Overcoming policy making problems in smart specialization strategies: Engaging subregional governments. European Planning Studies, 24(7), 1319-1335.
  • Foray, D. (2014). Smart specialisation: Opportunities and challenges for regional innovation policy. Routledge.
  • Foray, D. (2014). Smart specialisation: Opportunities and challenges for regional innovation policy. Routledge.
  • Foray, D. (2016). On the policy space of smart specialization strategies. European Planning Studies, 24(8), 1428-1437.
  • Foray, D. (2017). The economic fundamentals of smart specialization strategies. In S. Radosevic, A. Curaj, R. Gheorghiu, L. Andreescu, & I. Wade (Eds.), Advances in the Theory and Practice of Smart Specialization. Academic Press, 38-50.
  • Gancarczyk, M. (2015). Enterprise-and industry-level drivers of cluster evolution and their outcomes for clusters from developed and less-developed countries. European Planning Studies, 23(10), 1932-1952.
  • Gancarczyk, M., & Gancarczyk, J. (2018). Proactive international strategies of cluster SMEs. European Management Journal, 36(1), 59-70.
  • González-López, M., Asheim, B.T., & Sánchez-Carreira, M.C (2019). New insights on regional innovation policies. Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research, 32(1), 1-7.
  • Grillitsch, M. (2019). Following or breaking regional development paths: on the role and capability of the innovative entrepreneur. Regional Studies, 53(5), 681-691.
  • Grillitsch, M., & Asheim, B. (2018). Place-based innovation policy for industrial diversification in regions. European Planning Studies, 26(8), 1638-1662.
  • Iacobucci, D., & Guzzini, E. (2016). Relatedness and connectivity in technological domains: missing links in S3 design and implementation. European Planning Studies, 24(8), 1511-1526.
  • Isaksen, A., Jakobsen, S. E., Njøs, R., & Normann, R. (2019). Regional industrial restructuring resulting from individual and system agency. Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research, 32(1), 48-65.
  • McCann, P., & Ortega-Argilés, R. (2015). Smart specialization, regional growth and applications to European Union cohesion policy. Regional Studies, 49(8), 1291-1302.
  • Radosevic, S., Curaj, A., Gheorghiu, R., Andreescu, L., & Wade I., (Eds.) (2017). Advances in the Theory and Practice of Smart Specialization. Elsevier, Academic Press.
  • Reimeris, R. (2016). New rules, same game: the case of Lithuanian Smart specialization. European Planning Studies, 24(8), 1561-1583.
  • Rodrik, D. (2014). Green industrial policy. Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 30(3), 469–491.
  • Stam, E. (2015). Entrepreneurial ecosystems and regional policy: a sympathetic critique. European Planning Studies, 23(9), 1759-1769.
  • Ujwary-Gil, A. (2019). Organizational network analysis: A study of a university library from a network efficiency perspective. Library & Information Science Research, 41(1), 48-57.
  • Ujwary-Gil, A. (2017). Intra-organizational two-mode networks analysis of a public organization. Economics & Sociology, 10(3), 192-205.
  • Varga, A., Sebestyén, T., Szabó, N., & Szerb, L. (2018). Estimating the economic impacts of knowledge network and entrepreneurship development in smart specialization policy. Regional Studies, 1-12.

Editors’ biographical notes

Marta Gancarczyk, Dr. Hab., Associate Professor at the Institute of Economics, Finance and Management, Jagiellonian University in Cracow, Poland; Head of the Department of Globalization and Economic Integration. Her research, publication and consulting activities focus on entrepreneurship, firm growth, industrial clusters, and public policy for innovation, entrepreneurship and small and medium-sized enterprises. She is Associate Editor of the international scientific journal “Journal of Entrepreneurship, Management and Innovation” and Member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the “Journal of Organizational Change Management”.

Anna Ujwary-Gil, Dr. Hab., is Professor at the Institute of Economics, Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, Poland where she is also a Director of two MBA studies. She received her Ph.D. in Economics and Management from the Warsaw School of Economics in Poland. She is a founder and Editor-in-Chief of the international scientific journal Journal of Entrepreneurship, Management and Innovation. In 2010, her book entitled “Kapitał intelektualny a wartość rynkowa przedsiębiorstwa” [Intellectual Capital and the Market Value of a Company], published by CH.Beck in Warsaw, won the prestigious Polish Academy of Sciences award in the “Monographs” category. She was a project supervisor in the Sonata competition of the National Science Center, and an experienced researcher in the 7th EU Framework Programme - Marie Curie Industry-Academia Partnerships and Pathways (IAPP) and numerous other projects. For more than seventeen years, she has been the Conference Director and Academic Supervisor of annual Academics’ and Business Professionals’ Conferences held every June. Founder and President of the “Cognitione” Foundation for the Dissemination of Knowledge and Science. Her research interests include organizational network analysis, knowledge management, intellectual capital, resource-based views and dynamic approach to organization and management.

Manuel González-López, Dr., currently works as Associate Professor at the Department of Applied Economics, University of Santiago de Compostela. He is part of the ICEDE research group. Manuel does research in Regional Innovation, Economic Geography and Development Economics. He has coordinated the Jean Monnet project "EURIPER: EU Regional and Innovation Policies and Peripheral Regions" between 2017 and 2019.