GEOGRAPHICAL RESEARCH ›› 2016, Vol. 35 ›› Issue (11): 2041-2052.doi: 10.11821/dlyj201611004

• Trends in Geography • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The progress and prospect of innovation geographyresearch in the West

Yu DENG1(), Yuefang SI2,3()   

  1. 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Key Laboratory ofRegional Sustainable Development Modeling, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. The Center for Modern Chinese City Studies, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
    3. School of Urban & Regional Science, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China;
  • Received:2016-05-06 Revised:2016-08-19 Online:2016-11-25 Published:2016-11-24


Innovation rather than land, capital and other factors becomes the new driver of economic development. In recent 35 years, researchers have made fundamental contributions to the understanding of the innovation process by exploring the location of R&D centers, the geography of high-technology industries, the diffusion of knowledge, etc. This paper systematically examines the history of the Western research on innovation geography, by summarizing the main researchers and their analyzing spatial scale, methodology and main findings every 5 years from 1991 to 2015. From 1991 to 1995, researchers mainly illustrated the geographical features of innovation activities as concentration in places. From 1996 to 2000, researchers explored the dynamics of innovation agglomeration, by focusing on the role of institutions. The period of 2001 to 2005 witnessed the booming of innovation geography research, especially the role of distant knowledge and global pipeline. From 2006 on, the evolutionary turn took the innovation geography research into the study of innovation network description and exploration. In summary, the Western innovation geography research has endured a dynamical development in the last 35 years; however, it has three shortcomings: neglecting the relationship between individuals and the organization, under-development of methodology, and thinking little of innovation policies and practices in developing economies. Therefore, we propose three fields to be studied to develop a new theoretical framework based on the developing economies: (1) the role of individual and organization as innovators; (2) the combination of quantitative and qualitative research; and (3) the innovation characters of developing economies.

Key words: geography of innovation, institutional turn, relational turn, evolutionary turn, research progress