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METROPOLITAN REGIONS IN THE KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY: NETWORK ANALYSIS AS A STRATEGIC INFORMATION TOOL

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ABSTRACT

Since the early 1990s, regional networks have received a lot of academic and political attention as vehicles for knowledge-based economic development. However, this powerful rhetoric has been accompanied by surprisingly little concrete analysis. Economic geography is only recently waking up to the potential of network analysis for interorganisational linkages within and between regions. We discuss network analysis as a strategic information tool for regional knowledge management and apply it to the metropolitan region of Hannover-Braunschweig-Göttingen-Wolfsburg in the northern German state of Lower Saxony. Producing network diagrams and parameters of network size, density, centrality, cohesion and connectivity from a large sample of actors and linkages, our survey shows striking differences between different fields of competence that highlight the potential of network analysis as a powerful tool and a necessary basis for decision-making to propel metropolitan regions into the knowledge economy. We outline both case-specific and generic implications for the practice of regional knowledge management. However, a few methodological shortcomings still call for further research to be conducted.

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