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The book consists of two parts: one part theoretical, the other devoted to empirical research. In the first part, we examine and systematise the epistemological and disciplinary background (and also hinterland), the questions the book sets out to tackle, the conceptual apparatus and research methodologies. The second part is devoted to case studies, conducted at organisational, urban and territorial levels in a number of European situations. Their purpose is twofold: to test the soundness and the heuristic power of the adopted theoretical approach, as compared with other current approaches, and to outline a framework for policies to cope with spatial, social and institutional conditions to enhance the generative potential of milieu at various scales.

Theoretical contributions are ordered in such a way as to provide our view of knowledge and milieu with consistent epistemological and analytical bases. As regards the epistemological side, the option we suggest for a hermeneutical approach has (1) to relate consistently though critically to the extant theoretical debate and, specifically, the analytical and pre-analytical premises that more or less expressly underlie the mainstream economics approach to knowledge and, a` cascade, to creativity and innovation, and (2) to demonstrate higher/wider heuristic power with respect to that same approach, in that it allows investigators to discern relevant new aspects and also naiveties which block further investigation, and policy makers to devise more successful strategies to cope with that triad. In order to be conversant with current theoretical debates, we do not disregard the criticisms that, for more than a century, have been made against positivism, logicalpositivism and the typical expression of the latter in cognitive science, i.e., cognitivism[1]; however, instead of adopting a dismantling attitude, we find more expedient to show how certain developments to which the cognitivist approach has given rise on the material plane and precisely at the crossing between science and production, are paradoxically at the origins of propensities towards a hermeneutic approach to knowledge, and also radical criticism against cognitivism itself.

This option not only stops us from falling into the trap of purely destructive criticism, such as that certain post-modern approaches lead to, but allows us to look at the advent of ICTs as both the main achievement of the cognitivist paradigm, and the event that marks the from within commencement of its obsolescence. This is our take on hermeneutics. It will be future developments that have the last word on this topic: at the moment, as developments are just starting (or are perceived as such), it seems only possible (and necessary) to provide that approach with sound analytical bases and to show that it can serve as a foundation for new and fruitful opportunities in the cognitive-pragmatic domain. We now turn to a presentation of the content and design of contributions.

Paolo Garbolino's opening chapter of the theoretical part offers the basic traits of

the twentieth century's epistemological debate in a critical frame. His focus is specifically on scientific thought, which is characterised by a concern for the truthfulness of mental representations. The intertwined issues of the ontological status of 'truth' and how the truthfulness of assertions can be assessed permeate and give substance to the entire body and history of the epistemological debate. Within it, Garbolino chooses a thread that refers to recent socio-historical and more widely ecological trains of epistemology. Assuming the neo-positivistic view as the necessary reference term (if for no other reason than to measure consistency and the possible higher explicative power of alternative approaches), he notes a crucial aspect concerning the clear-cut separation it established between the phases of discovering a hypothetical 'law' and validating it. Only the latter pertains to the scientific domain, whereas the former lies in psychological and sociological realms that are resistant to any possibility of decisive empirical testing. The above distinction is crucial with reference to the theory of innovation because it allowed (and allows) scholars and practitioners to depict innovation as an activity which is (epistemo)logically distinct and follows chronologically from ideation (as Schumpeter paradigmatically did): ideation works as the hypothesis that the idea it conveys is profitable, and innovation as the empirical test concerning its actual profitability. As Garbolino reminds us, this is the structure of the linear model of R&D, which, however, lacks a sound theoretical basis because it is not possible to exclude that the ways logical and/or empirical tests are conceived may themselves also be imbued with pre-analytical elements—“the glasses of a paradigm”, in Garbolino's words—thus possibly hindering the conception of some crucial experiments. Criticism of neo-positivism therefore focuses on re-establishing connections between the scientific concern for attaining reliable assertions about reality, on the one hand, and the socio-historical context within which hypotheses and tests are inevitably conceived jointly, on the other. The consequence is that only a dialectical work between the two sides is epistemologically admissible from then on. This is the threshold for hermeneutics, at which Garbolino halts.

Daniele Goldoni takes over from where Garbolino leaves off. He introduces hermeneutics through a hermeneutic critique of the notion of creativity, which characterises the post-industrial, knowledge-based economy. The idea that creativity is a/the privilege that advanced societies freely enjoy, with the ultimate goal of achieving sustained economic growth along with social cohesion (a refrain which appears in almost every EU document[2]) lies in an ideological stance, where 'ideological' is intended in the Marxian meaning of removing some aspects of the real world which would seriously challenge the dominant social structure (and superstructure). Albeit admitting that creativity fosters competition and economic growth, strong doubts arise, first, as to whether creativity allows all subjects to take part in and advantage from its presumed all-inclusive arena, thanks to its supposed innateness to individuals and free accessibility; and, second, whether it is essentially conducive to socially good outcomes. Universal accessibility to the creative arena is indeed highly questionable because of the elevated (and increasing) entry barriers in terms of increasingly high degrees of skill—“absorptive capacity”, as economics significantly[3] labels it—that are required to interact effectively within creative circles: evidence of the present extent of social exclusion in advanced, knowledge-based economies does not leave much room for doubts about that contingency (Compagnucci & Cusinato, 2014). With reference to this aspect, it could in fact be countered that it is matter of erroneous forecasts rather than ideological blind spots. Yet no admission is observable in official documents about such a possible mistake, Goldoni remarks, and emphasis continues to be put on the inclusive power of a creativity-based economy. With respect to the second remark, he notes that the pervasive belief (from which this book does not wholly escape either) that creativity essentially yields good social outcomes[4] is a by-product of the need capitalism has to believe in (and promise) economic growth cum universal inclusion, as a condition for achieving a minimum social legitimacy. On this issue, the author recalls how much dictatorial systems in the 'short century' have made recourse to the ideology of creativity as a lever for involving people in their authoritarian if not evil designs. Anyway, his message is that an a-critical belief that creativity is conducive to socially good outcomes can induce people to fall into the trap which the alliance between capitalism and the media continuously renews to gain their minds (and maybe also bodies). A hermeneutic—or posthermeneutic[5]—stance is thus called into play, to unveil the inescapable amount of unconscious, but also ideological content which is inherent in human expressions (and their interpretations). It is within such (post-)hermeneutic play that genuine creativity can arise, according to him, and it is no accident that his contribution opens and closes with a narration about how various kinds of creativity take form within various kinds of musical experience: Daniele Goldoni is in fact a musician besides being a professor of aesthetics!

Further developing the above pragmatic-and-interactional notion of knowledge, Giorgio De Michelis questions the role space plays in cognitive processes, especially after the advent of ICTs. Having concisely noted that space matters functionally for no other reason than information repositories (human minds included) are spatially distributed, he addresses the role space plays within this pragmatic notion of knowledge. From an individualistic viewpoint, knowing is possible insofar as individuals become able to detach themselves from something 'other' (which becomes 'other' precisely because of detachment), while mentally re-presenting it. Furthermore, individuals learn to know when they become able to realise detachments—to distinguish—on the mental rather than the purely factual plane, and in this occurrence physical space plays a metaphorical though essential role. The way by which they become able to know and learn however depends strictly on transmitted and acquired experience within 'situated' socio-spatial conditions, i.e., places. Possible pertinent and even effective systems of classification for an individual or a community are actually, if not potentially infinite, innumerable, and only locally established routines can turn a certain system into the 'normal' one, in the double sense of common and institutionalised. It follows that, once the idea of pragmatic-and-interactional knowledge has been embraced, space is not simply a functional condition for making it possible for knowledge to arise and also spread, but turns out to be an entity which takes shape simultaneously with the cognitive act, in that this latter gives space to a specific image and content: “Knowledge (for action)—De Michelis writes—is what links words and space coupling distinctions and sense-making”, and since meaning systems are context specific, “language is the means through which we 'appropriate' space transforming it into place”. Thus, if we look at 'milieu' as a knowledge-generative place, “space emergence, in its complexity and multiplicity, encompasses and justifies the creation of [the other two canonical components of milieu, i.e.,] social volume and relational density”, rather than merely joining them (which is what De Michelis ascribes to the interpretation of milieu Cusinato here draws from Durkheim). The final suggestion is that changes—including deliberate changes—occurring in space have an effect on cognitive attitudes in that “any new space modifies the way people access, create and share knowledge”, and this allows De Michelis to deal finally with the question of what happens to the couple knowledge and space with the advent of ICTs. Not only do space images and praxes multiply—“augment”—but attitudes towards knowledge creation increase for at least three reasons: first, because the design of ICT-based systems transforms the 'physical' space of possibilities for action; second, because it also changes the 'relational' space of possibilities and, third and most important, because it enhances possibilities for experiencing switches among different contexts. The lesson the author draws is that, if the notion of space is co-essential to knowledge, acting on the milieu's generative capacities entails intervening on its spatial component; though De Michelis argues that also the reverse holds, which is of the greatest relevance from the normative viewpoint, this remains an open question in his writing.

With specific reference to the firm, Carla Simone makes the above optimistic depiction of the 'augmenting' role of ICTs more multifaceted and intriguing. While agreeing that (a) knowledge and related innovative aptitudes stem from interaction, and more precisely, in her approach, from collaboration among the firm's stakeholders, and (b) ICTs augment opportunities for improving information processing, storage and exchange, she assesses the risks attendant on their arrival with respect to the knowledge generative capacities of such a decisive but delicate system of collaboration. The main risk comes from the not so remote possibility that managers (and stakeholders, in general) look at that system through merely informational glasses, according to which relationships concerning knowledge creation appear as dealing with pure information 'production' and 'exchange', and with collaboration as the attained degree of effectiveness and efficiency of these processes. There is no doubt, in such a view, that a computerised and self-regulating informational device works better than any conceivable 'human system'—it could even expediently replace it—but serious doubts arise if a dialogical and, more precisely, hermeneutic perspective is taken, according to which meaning does not rise from pure information processing, but from de-contextualisation of informational repertoires, and above all interpretative habits: and de-contextualisation cannot occur anywhere—Simone remarks—but on pragmatic terrain, through opening local viewpoints to other/broader possible ones. The main questions hence become how organisations can foster aptitudes and capacities towards de-contextualising praxes within firms, and how ICTs, if anything, intervene in this occurrence. As regards the first question, she shows how the milieu approach, with the three canonical dimensions it puts forward—spatial arrangement of things and persons, social volume and relational density—fits well with the current debate on knowledge management/governance within firms. The key achievements in this connection echo the ones De Michelis underlines in his contribution, which consist of the crucial role the transformation of physical space into a socially living place and the connected role that de-contextualising practices play in fostering knowledge creation. With regard to the second question, Simone's answer is more problematic because, if the illusory view prevails that ICTs are able to reproduce and also augment real contexts, expectations that this fosters knowledge creation by itself are doomed to fail. What in fact a cyberspace does not seem to be able to do by itself is either to turn itself into a place, because this is an operation which entails the intervention of the affective dimension, as Andreas PhilippopoulosMihalopoulos shows in his contribution, or to decontextualize itself, because this entails learning to deal/play with ambiguity. While ICTs can indeed work as an extraordinarily powerful means to drive, disseminate and amplify ambiguity, especially strategic ambiguity (Libicki, 2011), they cannot generate it and, even less, to extract novelties from it, at least insofar as they do not learn to recognise themselves as idiosyncratic cognitive systems and hence, to de-contextualise their irreducibly contingent way(s) of looking at things, as Carla Simone suggests: in a few words, insofar as ICTs do not learn to become ironic with respect to themselves, we could say, which is a very demanding challenge for syntactic systems. The opportunity ICTs really can offer, Simone conclusively notes, here too in agreement with De Michelis, is huge ease of albeit virtual access to a multiplicity of contexts (cyberspace included), which makes de-contextualisation easier to the agents/watchers/ stakeholders, on condition that they are inclined actually to carry out such an exercise, which ultimately means bringing their mental habits into play in relation to the milieu's heterogeneous and ceaselessly evolving conditions.

Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos' contribution is devoted to seeking the essential contents of the notion of 'milieu', with reference to knowledge creation. In accordance with the above comments and the general tone of the anthology, his opening point consists in adopting a pragmatic-experiential view of knowledge compared with the logical-positivist stance. There would actually be no room and no need for 'milieu' (if 'milieu' stands for something other than 'environment') if knowledge were seen from this latter viewpoint. According to it, validated knowledge indeed proceeds towards truth, which is endowed with an autonomous ontological status, and interaction of the knowing subject with the social-and-natural environment only serves to get occasions to test/achieve convergence towards it. From this viewpoint again, creativity consists essentially of 'discovering' solutions, or more effective and/or elegant solutions, to problems according to a linear approach to the true solution. There is consequently no room for emotions either, which are rather seen as detrimental to the researcher's strict observance of the logical-empiricist method. [6] And, if some emotions are cautiously admitted, they are confined before or beside or beyond the analytical process, as happens for curiosity, interest or enthusiasm in launching or carrying on a research project, or satisfaction or even joy in achieving something new: researchers are humans too, after all!—but this in no way authorises them to mix scientific work with emotions, and still less with passions. A wholly different vision opens when a pragmaticexperiential view of knowledge is taken. No truth awaits anybody at a certain mythical terminal of the cognitive process, because there is no reliable criterion against which to make a definitive assessment of the convergence of mind towards it: “... if there is any truth at all, it occurs not at the beginning or the end but in the process of interpretation”, Joel C. Weinsheimer writes in commenting Gadamer's Truth and Method (quoted in Rector, 1990, p. 217).

Humans can only 'check out the lie of the land', being aware that there always is a risk of wandering and also getting lost, but nevertheless hoping to have new, pleasant and maybe fruitful (cognitive) experiences. If knowing means 'consciously experiencing something new', this however requires three conditions to be fulfilled for it not to turn into a casual/insignificant sequence of unrelated images: first, to be conscious that this entails endless leave-takings from what we were beforehand (this is the genuine content of 'e-motion'); second, to maintain a maybe weak and wistful tie (something like a sensation of 'morabezá) with the image of what we were beforehand, thus avoiding getting lost and, third, to be inclined to draw encouragement in the above work from the recognition that no-one is alone in this adventure, because very many others are sharing similar it, with the expectations, concerns, enjoyments and, possibly, sense of failure it entails. This is the view of knowledge Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos puts forward: an idea he wants to be free from any transcendentalism and teleologism, he (among others) labels as “post-human”, which essentially means 'having taken leave from the humanistic/anthropocentric stance' (but that for this same reason appears as genuinely human).

If knowing is reflexively experiencing new and unknown terrains, and if it requires us to take maybe irrevocable leave from the Selves we were till then, and also to face the risk of getting lost—if, as Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos draws from Guattari, knowing is ultimately “flirting with chaos”—the question arises of how to expose and somehow abandon ourselves to chaos (flirting anyway requires abandon!) without being swallowed up by it. According to them both, the mental device Humans have devised to carry out this very risky but essential exercise is the notion and experience of 'milieu'. Unlike the concreteness Durkheim conferred on it, in Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos' opinion 'milieu' is that ideal, fugitive and evolving minimum reference system which makes it possible that the exposure of the mind to chaos may turn into the most exciting and potentially fecund source of knowledge. The 'substance', he follows, which provides milieu with that minimum necessary internal structure to be conceptualised, is rhythm: “Rhythm is the milieus' answer to chaos. [.. .] Rhythm organises milieu [.. .] to escape from the seduction of chaos” and, in turn, he observes, rhythm rests on emotions, and especially affects, which constitute their interpersonal dimension: we know inasmuch as we take intimate part in that rhythm because, in doing this, we succeed in realising the finest differences between rhythms. Creativity eventually springs from experiencing the specific and evolving features of different proximate and/or distant milieus, with their peculiar rhythms, emotions, networks of affects and related atmospheres: his ultimate message is that if any act of knowledge creation stems from the 'realisation' of new differences, the most fecund matrix of creativity lies in experiencing differences between milieus' rhythms and atmospheres.

Augusto Cusinato's contribution finally builds a bridge between the theoretical

and the empirical parts of the book. Its main concerns are: (a) to show why and how a hermeneutic approach to knowledge has entered the enterprise, especially in relation to the issues of creativity; (b) to outline the peculiarities and mainly the higher potentiality of a hermeneutic approach to creativity in comparison with the conventional approach and related practices; (c) to explore conditions which are conducive to the enhancement of a hermeneutic approach to creativity, and (d) to provide empirical research on the size and geography of activities devoted to knowledge creation presumably through a hermeneutic approach, with suitable analytical notions and operational tools. As regards the first point, he puts forward the twofold idea that (a) a complex set of events in the philosophical, cultural, social and economic domains was long ago doing the groundwork for a hermeneutic turn[7] and (b) that those events were not able, by themselves, to ensure that the turn would actually take place, because they did not touch the core of social life, which lies within the sphere of production (along with the redistributive aspects that are inherent to it). The decisive factor which caused those elements to trigger a radical change within the productive sphere, and from then on to enter society at large, is indicated in the advent of ICTs: their decisive contribution has been to make it profitable, within firms, to disentangle the dialogical from the monological circuits of communication, thus making the 'imperialism' of the cognitivist approach (on which ICTs are actually grounded) obsolescent. As regards the specificities of the hermeneutic approach in relation to its assumed higher creative potential, they relate to its focus on mental habits which drive, rather unconsciously, cognitive practices, and to the consequent socialand place-specific dimensions which are inherent in learning processes. The discourse thus naturally shifts to the sociospatial aspects which are suited to enhancing attitudes and also aptitudes towards hermeneutic practices. Cusinato's discussion of this topic leads readers into the debate about the notion of milieu, which seems the most promising in establishing a link between the structural (and, among them, the unconscious) features of a localised community and its propensities and capacities towards knowledge creation. Discussion moves from Durkheim's seminal notion of generative milieu (and its limits and rigidity) to the more plastic interpretation stemming from the contributions commented on above. The main outcome is that the spatial arrangement of the milieu also matters as well as its internal heterogeneity and relational density, as Durkheim repeatedly maintained, without however providing this idea with a consistent explanation: whilst arguing that space matters insofar as it is vested with a symbolical content, he did not realise that the image-space which results from this 'vesture' is 'landscape', which finally becomes the operational notion—a sort of palimpsest (Corboz, 1983)—to deal with the entire chain which links the emotional to the spatial dimensions within milieus, passing through the intermediate links of affects and atmosphere, as mainly Goldoni and Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos show in this volume. On these premises, two analytical tools are set up: (a) the category of “Knowledge-creating Milieu—KCM”, which serves both to render the complex set of socio-spatial conditions which endow place with a knowledge-generative power, and to identify an 'algebrá of scaling milieus with respect to their specific dimension, structure, ways of working and outcomes, and (b) the notion of “Knowledge-creating Services—KCS”, which refers to activities which are presumed to have pragmatic recourse to a hermeneutic approach to knowledge and creativity. Both categories allow researchers to place empirical stress on the heuristic power of such an approach in comparison with analogous works based on a conventional cognitivist-oriented approach, and to make available suitable levers for policies in the knowledge-creating domain.

The second part of the volume presents a series of case studies on those sociospatial 'devices' that, at different scales, can be thought of as Knowledge-creating Milieus, thanks to their capacity or mission to foster creativity and innovativeness within/through a relational context. As Cusinato maintains in his contribution, scale matters because, moving from the 'elementary form' of KCM—the dialogical context—towards the most complex one—the city—the weight of both deliberately constructed socio-spatial conditions and shared behaviour lessens, progressively making room for the intervention of social facts (in the way Durkheim understands them). Also the 'mechanism' through which the milieu works in engendering its specific outcomes changes with scale, ranging from fair reciprocation in the dialogical context, to competition and free collection of spillovers in urban contexts, and passing through a variable mix of both mechanisms at intermediates scales, such as enterprises, institutions, and the like.

The case studies will not examine KCMs at the dialogical scale, however, but only on upper scales, where 'upper' stands for 'more articulated' in terms of the elements concerned, the number and variety of relationships occurring among them, the kinds of generative devices and outcomes. This choice does not entail under-evaluation of the role dialogical KCMs play in generating knowledge and fostering creativity, but relates to the extensive attention which hermeneutic literature already gives to them, starting from Gadamer (1975[1960]). What this book will try to add in this connection is a spatial topology of the dialogical context (and the hermeneutic experience, in general) which will serve to introduce the debated issue of relationships between space, knowledge and creativity (see chapter “A Hermeneutic Approach to the Knowledge Economy” by Cusinato).

The first case study is on the organisational scale, and specifically a scientific park, which can be viewed as a KCM made of smaller KCMs (the tenant enterprises, research centres and institutions). This kind of milieu lies in an intermediate position between the two aforementioned extremes—the elementary/'artificial' kind and the complex/'social' one—since it shares features with both of them. As the term conveys, an organisation is the outcome of a deliberate action aiming at establishing a certain kind of relationships within a certain set of human and material resources in order to pursue a certain goal: from this viewpoint, the 'organisation' belongs to the family of artefacts. Because of a generalised condition of informational asymmetry and the contractual foundation of relations within it, margins rise however for idiosyncratic viewpoints and for heterodox and also opportunistic behaviours to take form, as typically happens in social milieus.

The fact that these tendencies are treated as disturbances (noise) or dissonances (ambiguity) and are then given negative or potentially positive value, depends more on the technological and organisational interface—the 'infrastructure', as Michela Cozza calls it in her contribution—rather than the individual attitudes of principals and agents. Rigid as these interfaces are (as occurs within a Fordist plant or a bureaucratic situation, inside which routine largely prevails), the majority of these idiosyncrasies are destined to be perceived as disturbances, to be 'reduced' by recourse to a mix of carrot and stick to induce agents to align themselves to the norm. A quite different situation appears when mental rather than behavioural attitudes and capabilities become central, as occurs when knowledge creation and innovation are at stake. An articulated and continuously evolving mix of margins of free-playing and structured situations rather than carrot and stick, turns out to be a suitable device for making exploration and ideation possible and fruitful. In other words, governance rather than government (or command) is preferred when generative rather than applicative issues are at play. We thus expect that a knowledgecreating organisation works according to an alternate register: as a milieu inside which margins of freedom can originate (or are deliberately built) within the unavoidable bureaucratic tangles to facilitate the emergence of divergences/ novelties, and as an ordered device aiming at realising and somehow extracting convergences from the previous ones: thus turning disorder into new order, namely innovation. In such a situation, the very managerial art is producing that mix of relaxing and demanding conditions in connection with a suitable technological and relational interface, along with being able to learn and teach how to draw new order from apparent disorder: this is what, drawing from the current literature, Cozza labels respectively as “infrastructure” and “balance between standardization and flexibility”, and employs as analytical tools in examining her case-study, the VEGA Park in Venice.

According to a generative perspective, a scientific park appears as an organisational device having the mission of augmenting the innovative attitudes tenants individually profess, thanks to a suitable infrastructure.[8] Her examination of the internal structure and ways of working of this boosting device develops by matching her disciplinary background (Information Systems & Organisations) with the milieu approach: the milieu's material and organisational substratum is rendered by the notion of infrastructure; the relational device by which novelties emerge is the dialectical/dialogical interplay between disalignment and convergence that takes (or would take) place among tenants, and atmosphere which necessarily imbues a milieu condition, is rendered in the terms of the shared vision among tenants and Park management. A vision, she continues, which is evoked and institutionalised by a suitable spatial and symbolic arrangement, and which is nurtured through exchange, however tentative it might be, of disaligned and maybe apparently incommensurable viewpoints. This triad of elements endows a technological park with a context-specific generative power, by which it becomes a milieu rather than being a low-cost hostel for poor or idle self-professed start-ups (as someone critically labels VEGA); and the procurement and nurturing of this triad is the park management's specific mission.

With these premises, Cozza examines the VEGA Park experience. The results are not very encouraging because it does not seem to meet the above requirements. It is in fact characterised by (a) inadequacy of the spatial-symbolic arrangement, which emblematically recalls the “positivist architecture”, to which Galison (1997) refers to as an example of obsolete arrangement with respect to the post-modern condition of knowledge 'production'; (b) lack of interaction between tenants, although the recent rise of a start-up incubator could reverse this condition; (c) a widening discrepancy between the Park's original designers and management vision and that of the present main stakeholders, who are inclined to consider the Park management as a real-estate operation, an 'object' rather than a 'subject'; and

(d) lack of interactions between the Park, as a unitary agent, and the external world, and specifically the Triple Helix components, that is regional industry, university and institutions.

The examination of case studies continues with a number of European examples at the national, regional and urban scales. Fabien Paulus and Céline VacchianiMarcuzzo examine the French geography of KCS. The first hypothesis is that KCS are essentially urban-oriented activities, to such an extent that cities can be viewed as KCMs at the largest scale. The hypothesis is not new because relationships between urban dimension and concentration of knowledge-based activities is a central issue in regional science,[9] on the assumption that they take advantage of a vivid and heterogeneous ambience. When learning and creativity come specifically into play, more and more people dealing with them are attracted, so that a cumulative process triggers with respect to the generative power of the milieu, which can be hindered only by the rise of urban rent. Floridás (2003) claim that it is the 'creative class' which drives industry to locate within/around major cities rather than the opposite rests indeed on the supposed working of such a self-reinforcing process: cities endowed with high levels of Talent, Tolerance and Technology draw creative people, who attract advanced industry, which contributes in turn to strengthening at least two of the above '3 Ts,' and so on, in a virtuous circle.

Urban economies are not the only kind of agglomeration economies that knowledge-based activities take advantage of, however. Externalities rising from the relationships among them—'within industry'—also matter, such as informational spillovers, the rise of a pool of skilled workers and generalised entrepreneurial spirit, reduction in communication and transaction costs, as economic thought usually holds with reference to the Marshall intuitions. The question thus arises as to what kind of knowledge-intensive activities are more susceptible to urban rather than industrial agglomeration economies. Starting from the differentiation between analytical and synthetic knowledge bases (Høgni Kalsø, Vang, & Asheim, 2005), Vang (2005) suggests that activities based on analytical knowledge prefer to locate near research centres and universities, whether these are placed in urban or extraurban contexts, while those based on synthetic knowledge tend to locate near/within manufacturing clusters. After Asheim, Boschma, and Cookes (2011), it is also possible to argue that activities based on symbolic knowledge are particularly susceptible to urban economies (mainly 'buzz'). Agreeing with Torre (2008) that permanent physical proximity matters mainly for tacit knowledge-based activities (a category which embraces symbolic and partially synthetic-based activities), it is possible to suggest that (a) knowledge-based activities which rely on symbolic knowledge are the most urban-centripetal; (b) activities based on analytical knowledge tend to be sited near research centres and high-tech industry, while(c) synthetic knowledge-based activities develop mainly near/within manufacturing clusters.

Table 1 Population in urban case-studies (thousand inhabitants)


Core city (2011)

Metropolitan region (2012)

















Source: Eurostat. According to Eurostat, the “Core city” is the administrative unit and “Metropolitan regions” are NUTS3 regions or a combination of NUTS3 regions which represent all agglomerations of at least 250,000 inhabitants

The empirical investigation on the French national scale focuses on urban agglomeration economies, showing that:

(a) the relationship between urban size and KCS density is concave, especially when the most sophisticated kinds of KCS are at stake. This means that important cumulative urban agglomeration economies are at work in this sector;

(b) the relationship between city size and KCS density proves to be stronger in the case of private, business-oriented KCS rather than the case of public KCS, the location of which mainly obeys non-market criteria.

Passing to case studies at the urban or regional level, they concern cities or metropolitan areas which have already been the subject of literature and/or policies in the field of knowledge-intensive services: Milan, Munich, Paris, Pécs and Poznań. The set of cities examined not only covers commonsense city ranking however, but also responds to a more sophisticated classification grid. Paris lies at the core of the largest metropolitan region in Western continental Europe, with almost 12 million inhabitants (Table 1). Munich and Milan are second rank metropolitan regions with about 3–5 million inhabitants, whereas Poznań and Pécs are medium-small sized cities.

City size, with its maybe exponential buzz effect, must however be combined with other factors to be conducive to knowledge creation in sophisticated knowledge-based systems. This suggests that information quality also matters, such as originality, uniqueness, accessibility to and relevance for global players. A good proxy of the information quality potential of cities is provided by their rank in the global scene. According to the “Global Command and Control Centres” ranking,[10] Paris is placed fourth in the world and first among the cities examined as regards the number of headquarters of the world's largest 2,000 public corporations,

Table 2 Main global command and control centres, 2012


No HQs

Rank HQs

Rank employees

Rank profit

Rank revenue







New York






























Source: GaWC:

after Tokyo, New York and London (Table 2) and comes second when their revenue and employees are considered. Milan follows at some distance, ranking 21st as to the number of headquarters, and only 48th and 49th in relation to their revenue and employees. Though it has a lower number of head offices, Munich performs much better than Milan as regards all the other indicators considered, which means that, though fewer in number, Munich's headquarters are bigger in terms of employees, business and profits.

Due to their medium-small size and local role, Poznań and Pécs do not appear in

the above ranking. This raises the issue of the role small and medium-sized cities (SMCs) play or can play within a knowledge-based economy. This is a topic which has not so far received the attention it deserves, both in the academic and public policy debate. The recent draft opinion of the Commission for Territorial Cohesion “Towards an Integrated Urban Agenda for the EU” (European Union, 2014) may represent a turning point in this view. While focusing on the crucial role cities play in modern knowledge-based economies and on the need/opportunity to foster their involvement in policy-making processes, the document further stresses the importance of SMCs within the European urban and economic fabric. Hosting nearly 40 % of the EU total population, it is supposed that SMCs contribute to a more balanced territorial distribution of economic activities as well as improving regional innovation potential. Focusing on their potentialities means making reference to the interplay between economies and diseconomies of agglomeration and, more specifically, of urbanisation, which vary across space (with regard to different models of cities and regional development) and time (by moving, for example, from industrial to knowledge-based economies, and societies as well), and which is subject to cumulative processes (Phelps & Ozawa, 2003). Ascertaining what specific agglomeration economies and diseconomies and what specific cumulative processes are at work in a knowledge-based economy is a main issue to be dealt with if we are to know the role urban realities can play at various scales and, mainly, under what circumstances SMCs may benefit or suffer from its advent. Maintaining that creativity rises within a relational context, endowed with certain learning capabilities, pressures and infrastructure, and that cumulative forces are at work, it might be expected that SMCs play an active role in knowledge creation on two connected conditions: to be closely related to major cities, which remain the main drivers and also hubs in this sector, and to belong, with them, to a dynamic regional system on the global scene (Alonso, 1973; Meijers, 2008).

A more detailed measure of their potentialities can thus be inferred by making reference to their respective regional pattern of production and innovation: if it is based on analytical knowledge and, especially, technology, proximity to research centres and high-tech industry is actually of prime importance (Asheim et al., 2011). In this case, as the Greater Munich and Paris Metropolitan Area case studies show (see, respectively, chapter “Geographies of Knowledge-Creating Services and Urban Policies in the Greater Munich” by Mazzoleni and Pechmann; chapter “Localisation Patterns of Knowledge-Creating Services in Paris Metropolitan Region” by Compagnucci), SMCs endowed with clusters of high-tech industry also play an important role in KCS location. In other situations, such as Milan and its metropolitan region (chapter “Knowledge-Creating Activities in Contemporary Metropolitan Areas, Spatial Rationales and Urban Policies: Evidence from the Case Study of Milan” by Mazzoleni), where more traditional manufacturing activities are scattered around the city, a more centripetal pattern for KCS is observable, with the main central place specialised in symbolic knowledge-based services and the surrounding SMCs working as places for synthetic knowledgebased services or else as relaxing residential places for the 'creative class'. A third occurrence is also possible, when a minor city is the seat of public research centres, though being peripheral and/or lacking of dynamic manufacturing sector, as Vacchiani-Marcuzzo and Paulus notice in this book with reference to the French case, and Lovra, Szab'o and T'oth with reference to Pécs.

An interesting grid for discriminating between different regional patterns of innovation and the related different role major and minor cities play within them is provided by ESPON (2012).[11] Having defined a territorial pattern of innovations as “made of a combination of territorial specificities (context conditions) that are behind different modes of performing the different phases of the innovation process” (ibid., vol. 1, p. 24; original emphasis), ESPON identifies three main territorial innovation patterns and five related empirical classes, with reference to the European case:

(a) Endogenous innovation pattern, which rests on a scientific network, and inside which “the local conditions are all present to support the creation of knowledge, its local diffusion and transformation into innovation and its widespread local adoption” (ibid.). In relation to this innovation pattern, two kinds of regions at NUTS 2 level are empirically identified within the EU 27 (Map 1)[12]:

(a1) Science-based areas, which show the highest quality innovation performances. This kind of region is characterised by high levels of accessibility, scientific and human capital endowment and the presence of a metropolitan urban tissue. It is no coincidence that these areas are mostly located in the central part of Western

Map 1 Territorial patterns of innovation in Europe

Europe and mainly Germany, the historical birthplace of the alliance between scientific research and industry;

(a2) Applied science areas, which share the science-based feature of

the innovation process with the previous class, though at a lower level, especially in terms of “General Purpose Technology” patenting. This kind of region lies substantially around the core science-based-areas, albeit with some noticeable exceptions such as Sweden and Finland;

(b) Creative application pattern, which is “characterized by the presence of creative actors interested and curious enough to look in the external world for knowledge which is lacking inside the region, and creative enough to apply external knowledge to local innovation needs” (ibid.). This pattern too finds expression in two regional classes on the empirical level:

(b1) Smart technological application areas, which are similar to the

(a2) class above as regards capacity to turn research work into innovative abilities, but show more pronounced inclination towards application in product rather than process innovation. This kind of area “can easily represent our conceptual [.. .] creative application pattern, where co-invention of application is the result of internal creativity and external basic knowledge” (ibid., p. 40; emphasis added). It generally lies concentric to the previous one, with the exceptions of North-eastern Spain, Madrid, Lisbon, Attica, which prove that it can be highly urban oriented;

(b2) Smart and creative diversification areas. Despite having innovation

capabilities which are higher than EU average, this kind of region relies mainly upon tacit rather than scientific codified knowledge;

(c) Imitative innovation pattern, “where the actors base their innovation capac-

ity on imitative processes, that can take place with different degrees of creativity in the adaptation of an already existing innovation. This pattern is based on the literature dealing with innovation diffusion” (ibid.).

Table 3 provides a synoptic representation of our case studies according to the above and other ESPON criteria. In general, case studies cover the entire

Table 3 Case studies according to some KIT classification criteria

Case-study city

Territorial pattern of innovation

Knowledge base

Knowledge networking

Industrial regions in transition


Science-based area

Scientific region

Networking region

(Not covered)


Applied science area

Scientific region

Globalizing region

(Not covered)


Smart technological application area

Research intensive region

Networking region

Region with industrial branches losing importance


Smart and creative diversification area

Regions with no specialization in knowledge activities

Noninteractive region

Region with industrial branches losing importance


Creative imitation area

Regions with no specialization in knowledge activities

Noninteractive region

Regions with internal industrial structural change


classification of Territorial patterns of innovation: Munich belongs to Sciencebased Areas, Paris to an Applied Science Area, Milan to Smart Technological Application Areas, Poznań to Smart and Creative Diversification Areas, and Pécs to a Creative Imitation Area. With regard to the knowledge base, Munich and Paris make recourse mainly to scientific knowledge, while Milan relies on research but at a lower level of integration with industry. Finally, while Poznań and Pécs seem to have no knowledge specialisation, though Stachowiak; Lovra, Szab'o and T'oth respectively prove that this last assertion is partially misleading because both cities play a significant role in KCS. These different outcomes probably arise from ESPON's neglect of symbolic knowledge-based activities and the leading influence it exerts on private innovative aptitudes.

The outcomes from the empirical investigation into the size and structure of KCS are consistent with the above classification, although with some margins of approximation due to the specificity of the approach assumed. The Paris and Munich metropolitan regions share not only a similar primacy as regards volume and quality of KCS, but also an analogous KCS geography, which is characterised by a networked rather than centripetal location pattern. A system of specialised KCS clusters, research centres and high-tech or cultural industry is observable in both regions, which highlights their science-based character. Unlike them, the Milan metropolitan area features a monocentric and less differentiated KCS geography. Though important research centres and high-tech industry are present, clearly identifiable clusters do not stand out in the local geography, with the consequence that KCS follow a common pattern of decreasing diffusion from the core city towards the surrounding 'manufacturing countryside'. This seems consistent with the more pronounced application-oriented character of the Milan region with respect to those of Paris and Munich.

Coming now to the smaller and peripheral case studies of Poznań and Pécs, they

can be clearly differentiated. As Stachowiak maintains with reference to Poznań, knowledge-based activities follow a twofold pattern of development, based respectively on an imitative and an endogenous drive. This matches the ESPON classification, according to which the Poznań innovation pattern is characterised by a high creative potential, while being mostly application-oriented. Some divergence arises in relation to the kind of knowledge networking: while ESPON ranks Poznań as a “non-interactive region”, Stachowiak repeatedly notes its growing role as a relais in the Berlin-Poznań-Warsaw trajectory, if not as an albeit minor hub within the wider European macro-region. The difference between the two assessments probably arises from a different temporal perspective: while the ESPON assessment is grounded in retrospective data, Stachowiak's notes also take a prospective look at the current regional dynamics.

The condition of Pécs turns out to be quite different, according to both ESPON

and the Lovra, Szab'o and T'oth study results presented here. Though located in the heart of Southern Hungary and despite its deep-rooted multi-cultural life, Pécs is a peripheral reality in the European geography of knowledge-based economies.

Like Poznań, is still suffering from the demise of the old state-driven industry,

but unlike the former, it has not yet seen the rise of a new entrepreneurial class, due to the lack of industry, the narrowness and thinness of the regional market and the overriding role Budapest plays in more advanced activities. There is no lack of ferments in the knowledge-based activities however, as field investigation shows, but their engine lies mainly (maybe provisionally) in public educational and research centres, cultural programs and events, rather than entrepreneurship. The ESPON classification, according to which Pécs is an imitative and non-interactive area, with an urgent need for industrial restructuring, is thus consistent with the outcomes presented here, even though it does not seem adequately to feature the presence of high-quality knowledge-intensive activities in some specialised sectors, such as health science and ICTs.

The contributions to the anthology end with a chapter by Roberto Camagni on policies for enhancing creativity-oriented activities, according to the assumed hermeneutic approach. Being a regional scientist, his contribution pays more attention to the urban and regional sides, setting aside organisational issues. It could therefore be claimed that a further contribution dealing with this latter scale is needed to cover the range of scales to which the book refers. Such a contribution would however be quite redundant in the book's economy, given the number of works on the organisational scale which explicitly espouse a hermeneutic stance.[13] It is actually mainstream economics to remain impermeable to any hermeneutic suggestion, thus representing an exception within social sciences. An exception it deliberately embraced at the beginning of the last century, just labelling itself 'economics' to imitate natural science, and especially physics, and within physics, Newtonian Mechanism. [14] But on this side too it is hanging back, in that natural science is also opening itself to the hermeneutic perspective (Heelan, 1998). Given that impermeability, maybe the only suitable connection point between hermeneutics and political economy (rather than economics in the strict sense) lies in regional science, thanks to its familiarity with social sciences, and also humanities: this is precisely the approach this anthology opts for, and which Camagni also adheres to.

His contribution places the issue of policies within the longstanding debate which, starting from the Marshall notion of industrial district and through evolutionary economics, has arrived at the notions of 'innovative' and 'urban milieu' to render the generative power which remains associated with some structural elements of local socio-economic systems. The integration of the emotional/affective aspects within the milieu's constituent features, along with their symbolical fixation on the physical space through landscape, Camagni remarks, represents the awaited turning point finally to provide the notion of milieu with analytical consistency, and related policies with effectiveness. Thus, whilst evolutionary economics points to the relational aspects of the cognitive/creative process within a positivist scaffold, and the milieu approach a` la GREMI stresses the role of immaterial assets, without however coming to terms with positivism, the hermeneutic turn makes a dialectical synthesis of the two, thus allowing analysts and policy-makers to envisage new and more effective strategies to enhance creativeness within local systems, at whatever scale. Besides/beside the tools those approaches have respectively devised—his final message is—the new action domain for local economic policies lies within the relationship between physical space and symbolic mindsets (along with the emotional aspects they entail), a relationship which represents the keystone of any milieu construction and governance.

  • [1] Whereas behaviourism can be reputed as the corresponding typical expression within positivism
  • [2] And which actually stresses the acuteness of the concern about the compatibility between the two goals
  • [3] Significantly' because recourse to the term “absorptive” rather than “interpretative capacity” is symptomatic of the cognitivist approach which underlies the mainstream economics viewpoint on creativity, and more widely learning
  • [4] Where 'good' here means 'enlarging opportunities to individuals and groups', especially the most deprived ones
  • [5] In that it applies to messages stemming from every sort of media, economic relations included
  • [6] “.. . as personal factors did not intervene in [.. . the] process [of validation], there were no obvious reasons to doubt that whatever had been validated would remain valid for successive generations of scholars”, Zygmunt Bauman (2010, p. 5) significantly writes in depicting the rationale of neo-empiricist science.
  • [7] Or the “interpretative turn”, as Rabinow and Sullivan (1979) label it
  • [8] See “Why Knowledge is Linked to Space” by De Michelis, in this book
  • [9] For review, Vang(2005)
  • [10] Source: Globalization and World Cities (GaWC) Research Network, Loughborough University (UK).
  • [11] See also Capello and Lenzi (2013)
  • [12] For detailed classifications of urban regions see
  • [13] Among many others which specifically deal with management, see Phillips and Brown (1993), Sk€oldberg (1998), Westwood and Linstead (2001), Linstead (2004), Thatchenkery (2004). In marketing see, for example, Thompson (1993), Verganti and O¨ berg (2013). Also accounting, the apparently most applicative realm within organisational studies, does not escape from a herme-neutic approach (cf. Llewellyn, 1993, among many others)
  • [14] “I believe in Newton's Principia Methods, because they carry so much of the ordinary mind with them”, Alfred Marshall wrote in 1906 to Sir Arthur Lyon Bowley, an economic statistician (quoted in Pigou, 1925, p. 427)
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