Regional policy and innovation in the Asia/Pacific region has been of great interest to me since the class began studying the region. I have spent a considerable amount of my life living in this region, so the perspectives about the region that were introduced in chapters three and four gave me a new and different understanding of and perspective on the ways that innovation and policy are developed in the East Asian countries of the world. Interestingly, a more global perspective on development has really added to my interest in the region and the market forces that are moving in the region. Looking at these countries— Asian countries in particular— from the Australian geopolitical perspective has been extremely helpful and eye-opening for my personal perspective.
Regional Innovation in Asian Countries
Regional innovation systems are highly important in the modern world, as they provide a country the capability to innovate within the geopolitical and economic context of their regional realities and structures (Yeung 2009). Most theorists understand that regional innovation systems are more than the sum of their parts; that is, the success of a single country in a region is determined by the ability of that region to innovate and develop.
Many countries are now using regional innovation systems as a tool to build economic development within their own borders. Although designed initially as an analytical tool for countries and individuals interested in studying the coexistence of certain systems, today it has been shaped into a policy approach for attaining certain economic and regional goals (Wilson 2013). Some researchers suggest that the development of certain types of industry— particularly a good economic mix of small and large firms—can contribute to the health and the overall success of a regional innovation system. Transnational corporation health also seems to be a contributing factor for the overall health and wellness of a regional innovation system.
Yeung (2009) suggests that regional innovation systems cannot be understood without also understanding the demands of the global production network. Because so much of the Asian economy in China, Taiwan, and Vietnam is based on global demand for production, this production demand has essentially formed the innovation structures that are in place today. Instead of merely studying the system, Yeung (2009) suggests, interested parties should examine the way that the companies and groups within the system are strategically coupled with groups outside the system. Yeung (2009) writes that strategic policy is very important for the understanding of a global political network perspective. Government agencies, Yeung (2009) suggests, should build regional capabilities within the contextual understanding of the regional strategy available. This also allows for strategic coupling in the region (Yeung, 2009). The leaders of a country in any region must be certain that they are able and willing to take into account all the different ways. It is the responsibility of the leaders to develop appropriate skill sets for the region. In short, this tool— regional innovation— can be quite powerful in the geopolitical sphere, particularly insofar as it is still relatively poorly understood (Lee 2009).
Regional innovation systems might seem passively interesting at first glance, but in reality, these innovation systems have the power to shape the whole world. East Asia makes up the bulk of the world’s mass production capability; there is no other region in the world that is doing the same level of mass production as the East and Southeast Asian regions. As such, understanding the ways that these structures are built and the driving factors behind them becomes increasingly important for an overall global understanding of the economy and geopolitical sphere. The regional systems of Asia are particularly interesting because of their power to shape the world economy. If the production economy— based on the regional innovation system in Asia— were to collapse, the world would recover: however, it would recover differently than before and the entire structure of the global economy would be changed (Moulaert and Sekia 2013).
Regional Policy in Australia
Interestingly, Professor Hagan notes that indeed, regional policy plays an important role in global development— but Australia, Professor Hagan suggests, does not have regional policy. Professor Hagan (n.d.) says, “we don’t have regional policy in Australia. We have policy that impacts reginos. We have a whole, what would we call, silos of money administered by different parts of the government that don’t talk to each other” (Wilson and Hagan n.d.). This lack of connectivity— and the lack of community as a result of this lack of connectivity— is something that Professor Hagan sees as quite detrimental to the overall structure and function of the Australian government.
Australia, Hagan fears, will fall into a bad pattern of behavior; Hagan suggests that Europe has been able to foster new economies through regional innovation systems, but that Australia has not been able to do the same due to this lack of connectivity between different goals and policies within the Australian government. This has, on the whole, become a quite difficult situation for the Australian government, and it has been untenable when considering the potential for future developmental strategies in Australia.
The Asian region that I called home for so long and the Australian region have developed very different strategies when it comes to dealing with global networks and economic structures. Australia has some tools that the Asian region has yet to develop, but the Asian region seems to have connectivity between the different parts of its global innovation system that the Australian government seems to lack within its own borders (Wilson and Hagan n.d.). Interestingly, these two perspectives seem to offset themselves well; there are things that can be learned from the Asian global innovation system as well as the Australian policy control system within the region.
Discussion and Conclusions
Asia, in particular, is experiencing changes in the way they are perceived on the international stage and in the international geopolitical sphere. A lot of these changes are directly linked to the global economic power that the Asian region currently holds. Some might suggest that Asia’s economic structures are relatively weak, and that their power could be easily toppled; however, this is not likely to be the case as so many different pieces of the global economy are coupled to the Asian economy. There are many lessons to be learned from these two regions, and the development of Asia in terms of innovation systems has the potential to impact the future development of countries around the world, including countries within the European Union. Seeing these developments from an outside perspective— particularly one like the Australian perspective— has allowed me a global understanding of the regional realities in Asian countries.
Lee, Y.S., 2009. Balanced development in globalizing regional development? Unpacking the new regional policy of South Korea. Regional Studies, 43(3), pp.353-367.
Moulaert, F. and Sekia, F., 2003. Territorial innovation models: a critical survey. Regional studies, 37(3), pp.289-302.
Wilson, B., 2013. Regional policy in the EU mode of regionalism: Implications for Asian integration. Australian & New Zealand Journal of European Studies, 1, pp.17-29.
Wilson, B. and Hagan, A. Professor Bruce Wilson talks with Professor Anthony Hogan about Australian perspectives on regional development and policy in Europe and Asia.
Yeung, H.W.C., 2009. Regional development and the competitive dynamics of global production networks: an East Asian perspective. Regional Studies, 43(3), pp.325-351.