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Home arrow Economics arrow Knowledge-creating Milieus in Europe
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1 Introduction

The economy, and especially the French one, as well as economies of mature industrialized countries, is going through a period of intense change since 50 years. This period is characterized by two major (and interrelated) trends:

(1) firstly, a transition from the industrial age to what is more and more commonly referred to as the “age of the knowledge economy” and (2) secondly, a redrawing of economic geography at a global scale. Numerous studies analyze the spatial impact of this change, and especially on cities (Fujita et al., 1999; Markusen and Schrock, 2006). They focus on larger cities (with the globalization or metropolisation process for example) and on specific territories (industrial districts, clusters.. .). Furthermore, the attention is put on location of innovation (Feldman and Audretsch, 1999), innovative products, firms or activities, using mostly one-dimensional indicators (patents or scientific publication .. .) (Frenken and Boschma, 2007).

In this paper, we propose to discuss the adaptation of cities to the economic change in France in the context of a more general pattern. More precisely we analyze the linkage between the knowledge and creative activity, the innovation process and the structure of urban systems. For that, we propose to analyse this linkage through the Knowledge-Creating Services classification (KCS), according to this book approach.

We consider cities as places of maximizing social interaction, innovation, hybridization and crossbreeding. They are matrix of emergence of creativity and particularly the larger ones. Thus, urban populations, and more generally all urban stakeholders as firms, local authorities and citizens, are at the heart of a competitive process of innovation search and adoption that is accelerated by the increased circulation of ideas, models, innovations and skills. The aim is to show how the urban hierarchy is linked to the hierarchical process of diffusion of innovation, spatial division of labour and dynamics of competition between cities.

 
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