Objectives and research questions

Innovation is often seen as a main driver of economic growth and prosperity in highly developed countries. Without innovation, competitiveness cannot be achieved. In economic geography, this idea has been very influential – extended by a spatial dimension – for some time, as seen in the concepts of clusters, innovative milieus and regional innovation systems show.

The literature shows the implicit assumption that innovation only occurs in cities or in regions with a high concentration of firms and institutions within the same economic sector. However, more recent empirical findings show that innovation cannot be generalised and that different forms occur in both, rural and urban areas.

Based on recent theoretical and empirical results, the dissertation project addresses the question of how firms organize their innovation process in different spatial settings. This concerns questions like how external knowledge is integrated within the firm, how important spatial proximity still is and what (dis-)advantages are seen at the certain location.

Methodologically, a quantitative analysis will provide information on the different regional innovation bases firms can draw on in rural areas, in contrast to urban areas. In addition, qualitative methods will be applied to highlight in detail the innovation process in contrasting spatial contexts. In doing so, a holistic picture on the concerned topic will be given.


The dissertation is paper based. The journal articles are listed and described below. Additionally, a research report summarizes the main findings in German and can be accessed here.


Eder, Jakob (2018): Innovation in the Periphery: A Critical Survey and Research Agenda. In: International Regional Science Review, 42(2), 119-146. [Epub ahead of print]

  • This paper provides an overview on the research field of innovative activities in peripheral areas. As such, it is an important foundation for the dissertation, but also for other research concerned with this topic. It focuses on the preconditions for innovation, innovation processes and their outcomes in peripheral regions. It addition, it discusses, if peripheries always have to be innovative and what actually is understood by "periphery". The results show that this field has developed rapidly over the last years, but also that theoretical advancements and definitions are necessary in the future. The paper concludes with suggestions for a future research agenda.


Eder, Jakob (2018): Peripheralization and knowledge bases in Austria: towards a new regional typology. In: European Planning Studies, 27(1), 42-67.

  • Often, categories like ‘old industrial regions’ or ‘remote agricultural regions’ Oft werden Kategorien wie "alte Industrieregionen" are used in order to classify peripheral regions. These categories are rather broad and have contributed to the perception of uniform peripheries, disadvanteged along many dimensions. The paper questions this assumption and combines the peripheralization discourse with the approach of regional knowledge bases. Accordingly, five dimensions are at hand for a detailed analysis, highlighting the diversity of peripheral, but also of central regions. This approach is applied for the 95 districts of Austria in 2015, resulting in a detailed picture on the strengths and weaknesses of individual regions. To conclude, there are policy recommendations and suggestions for further research.


Eder, Jakob und Michaela Trippl (2019): Innovation in the periphery: Compensation and exploitation strategies. In: Growth and Change, epub ahead of print, pp. 1-21.

  • Rural and peripheral regions are often seen as disadvanteged when it comes to innovation. Accordingly, the literature applies on this topic applies a negative view, meaning that it focuses on locational disadvantages firms need to compensate in order to be innovative despite their location. This paper goes beyond this view and develops a framework that incorporates these disadvantages, but also a more optimistic perspective on peripheral regions. The surveyed firms are indeed also mentioning advantages at their location, amongst others the protection from unwishful knowledge spillovers through labour poaching or a in general high support by regional policy makers.


Press Review



ISR-Project team


2016 to 2020


Institute for Urban and Regional Research/ÖAW