The introduction of smart specialization (S3) as a fundamental pillar of the 2014 reform of the EU cohesion policy is a significant strategic shift in European development intervention. S3 strategies aimed at mobilizing the economic potential of each country and region of the EU by allowing a more place-based and bottom-up approach to development. However, despite the salience that S3 has acquired in a short period of time, there has been no European-wide evaluation of the extent to which S3 strategies truly reflect the economic characteristics and potential of the territories where they are being implemented. This article examines the characteristics of S3 strategies across Europe – by focusing on their development axes, economic or scientific domains and policy priorities – to assess whether this is the case. The results show that S3 strategies display a proliferation of objectives, a problem that particularly affects areas with weaker quality of government. Moreover, strategies are generally loosely connected with the intrinsic conditions of each region and mostly mimic what neighbouring areas are doing. The lack of more concise and focused S3 strategies is likely to undermine the effectiveness of what is, otherwise, a very interesting and worthwhile policy experiment.

How ‘Smart’ Are Smart Specialization Strategies?

Di Cataldo M.
;
2021-01-01

Abstract

The introduction of smart specialization (S3) as a fundamental pillar of the 2014 reform of the EU cohesion policy is a significant strategic shift in European development intervention. S3 strategies aimed at mobilizing the economic potential of each country and region of the EU by allowing a more place-based and bottom-up approach to development. However, despite the salience that S3 has acquired in a short period of time, there has been no European-wide evaluation of the extent to which S3 strategies truly reflect the economic characteristics and potential of the territories where they are being implemented. This article examines the characteristics of S3 strategies across Europe – by focusing on their development axes, economic or scientific domains and policy priorities – to assess whether this is the case. The results show that S3 strategies display a proliferation of objectives, a problem that particularly affects areas with weaker quality of government. Moreover, strategies are generally loosely connected with the intrinsic conditions of each region and mostly mimic what neighbouring areas are doing. The lack of more concise and focused S3 strategies is likely to undermine the effectiveness of what is, otherwise, a very interesting and worthwhile policy experiment.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10278/3747686
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