Tracking spatial restructure through technology and innovation development

In order for us to characterise the space around us properly, I did some research about how technological and innovation development have restructured the space in a regional, national and global scale.First of all, it is proper to begin by defining what innovation is and what its use is. Innovation does not only exists in inventions, but also in new technological solutions, which aim in easing and creating new production systems. The innovation development can also be found in management, were new technologies are integrated.

Now coming to analyse some historical facts, in the mid sixteenth century the mercantile theory was introduced and got in effect immediately. New colonies were built and with the aid of technological evolution (steam engines and railways) and the division of labour in different spatial scales began. In plenty of countries, the more developed regions were developing and producing innovative products and the know-how, while the less developed areas were working on the traditional infrastructures and producing the raw materials that the industry of the developed regions needed. In a global scale, the countries that could produce technology were, also, the worldwide leaders in the trade market. This division in the different fields of development in the markets were, and still are, aiming in the capital accumulation, either from planning it or from coming along with the market forces.

The innovations and technological developments by the 1960’s (faster transportation systems and new ways of communication) led the world into the decentralization of important fields of production to less developed countries, while the centres of development and decision-making remained in the developed countries, as also the development of innovations and new technologies. The new policies in the different countries were about reducing, as possible, the imports from other countries and trying to increase the internal development and production, and also in increases in exporting the produced goods and technology improvements. This was only applied in markets and specific fields of production, were it was profitable to increase the domestic development.

The development in the industries led the countries in a continuous increasing urbanisation and gathering of the economic activities in the major industrial centres. This led the policy-makers to organise the industrial centres in a better and more effective way, leading in the creation of new cities (especially in the case of the UK) and zonings in the urban planning. The economies of scale came to agree with the industrial clusterisation (Marshall A.), by seeing the advantages of concentration. Crisis damaged the areas that were characterised with a high level in traditional infrastructures (ports in London, steel mining in Sheffield etc.) and finally diminished.

The past thirty years, the production of technological products can be described into two basic fields: the technology and innovation developments, which are placed basically within the developed countries, which share this knowledge with the less developed countries, which create the end-user products. This happens because of the lower labour wages in the developing countries.

This brings us to the today’s state; the digital evolution/era has created (either through planning or by market dynamics e.g. Silicon Valley) new concentration centres, which are based in the production of new technologies and innovations, the so called Technopolis. These centres gain the advantages from concentration, but not only in economic reasons (economies of scale) but also in innovation and information sharing matters. Thus, in many large cities new dynamics and possibilities derive from the great universities that are place in the cities. These universities are the reasons of new technologies and innovations development, which consist with the market dynamics within the cities, and give a faster pace in the evolution dynamics.

References

Λυμπεράκη Α. και Μουρίκη Α. (1996) “Η αθόρυβη επανάσταση: νέες μορφές οργάνωσης της παραγωγής και της εργασίας”, Gutenberg

Skagiannis P. (2003) “Technology, Innovation and Spatial Restructuring”, records from the 16th Greek Company of Operational Research conference

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