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Planning for knowledge infrastructure and capacity building in a distinct insular regional context (Cyclades-Southern Aegean): the role of higher education institutions’ research actions

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This paper is based on the study of a distinct insular region in Greece: Cyclades Prefecture with reference to also to the broader Periphery of the Southern Aegean. It elaborates on the issue of island innovation systems and the role of actions driven by higher education institutions (HEIs) in knowledge infrastructure (KI) and capacity building (CB). The paper argues that an exceedingly high number of HEI research actions tend to develop with “relative autonomy” from local expertise, networks and knowledge patterns embedded in the insular setting. In addition, these actions are conditioned by the EU policy doctrine, the dominant central state perception of innovation policies and the adverse pattern of HEI development in the national territory. Its geographically scattered composition and scarcities in scientific specializations and research fields make the sole regional HEI feeble in its ability to assume a leading role in fostering KI and CB processes. From this context, a number of factors and obstacles militate against a knowledge area-wide integrated strategy, deriving from: (a) the local socio-economic setting; (b) the proliferation of HEI actions; and (c) the institutional-governance system. In parallel to such obstacles, however, there are indications of potential conditions of change emanating from the positive role of some HEIs actions, the relatively active presence of regional HEIs, the growth trends of the insular economy, the making of new niches and networks, the presence of international institutions and, above all, the building of an atmosphere of trust between local communities and HEIs.
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Keywords: Cyclades–South Aegean; capacity building; higher education institutions; island innovation systems; island regions; knowledge infrastructure; planning; research actions

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography,Harokopio University Athens, 70 Eleftheriou Venizelou Av.17671Kalithea-Athens, Greece

Publication date: 2011-03-01

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