The role of regional contextual factors for science and technology parks: theoretical and practical implications in developing country

Amonpat Poonjan

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesisResearch

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Abstract

Science and technology parks (STPs) have gained significant academic and political interest for their potential to develop regional economies. Despite their popularity, STPs receive criticism for their inconclusive
contributions. Increasing numbers of studies argue that the performance capacity of STPs relies both on STPinternal factors and the regional conditions where the STP is located. While most research focus on STPinternal factors, literature on the linkages between the STP performance and the regional context is still lacking, raising the challenge of designing STP strategies in response to regional specificities. The thesis takes up this call by exploring the role of regional contextual factors in STPs’ performance. The aims of this thesis are threefold. First, the thesis aims to conceptualise the role of regional contextual factors and STP performance by conducting a systematic literature review, the outcome of which is a conceptual framework. Second, the thesis aims to use the framework to provide empirical insight into regional contextual factors and STP development in a developing-country context. Third, the thesis aims to concretise a route from the theoretical to a practical application of STPs’ innovation strategies by integrating STP functions with the concept of smart specialisation strategy (S3) using innovation system foresight. The overall conceptual framework of the thesis builds on the field of regional innovation systems, innovation systems in developing countries, smart specialisation, foresight studies and the broader perspective of evolutionary economic geography. Thailand is the case study for drawing on empirical experiences. The research approach builds on a systematic review of the literature, empirical investigation of the current practice of regional innovation systems and STPs in the Thai context and a foresight exercise to identify possible ways to improve the current situation. The data collected from semi-structured interviews, secondary data and a Delphi questionnaire provide the basis for the analysis. The secondary data sources cover regional
statistical reports, national policy reports, science-park internal reports, government websites and news.

The contributions of this thesis are threefold. First, from the theoretical perspective, the purpose of developing a systematic literature review was to contribute to better understanding the dynamics of STPs in their regional context, which is still lacking in STP studies. The thesis offers a comprehensive framework of regional factors that influence STP performance, providing new insight into the role of regional factors (i.e. degree of urbanisation, industrial structure, regional institutions and culture, university and research institutes and financial resources) for STP development. Second, from the empirical perspective, the study offers insights into national (NIS) and regional innovation systems (RIS) in the Thai context. The comparative case study from Thailand presents different regions demonstrating different levels of RIS capacity and, thus, STP performance, although the same national innovation system encompasses the establishment of them all. These findings support the idea that the regional level is optimal for analysing innovation policy intervention. However, in Thailand’s context, a national policy formulation to improve supportive conditions and coordinate policy linkages at the regional level is another crucial condition. Moreover, the empirical findings also suggest that regional innovation culture in the form of trust and local collaboration is a foundation for STP development. Third, from the methodological point of view, the thesis proposes the foresight process as a tool for implementing S3, where STPs align their functions with a regional context. The thesis presents the rationale use of foresight that has greatly contributed to regional policy intervention by enabling a systemic assessment of regional innovation ecosystems and their technological capabilities, then translating it to a policy-priority setting. The suggested approach eases S3 implementation with limited time and resources. Taken together, this thesis provides a comprehensive framework and proposes a tool for designing STPs that are more specific and sensitive to regional context. The author hopes that this research will contribute to a deeper understanding of regional innovation policy intervention—more specifically, STPs in the context of developing countries.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages140
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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