Table of Contents

  • This is the final report of the project Urban Patterns of Growth, carried out by a Nordic team of researchers on behalf of the Nordic Council of Ministers. This report is part of the preparation of the next Nordic regional policy co-operation programme 2013–2016 and for the preparation of the national regional policies in the Nordic countries.

  • The importance of proximity depends upon the geographic level of supplier relations. At the national level, supplier relations are clearly influenced by geographic proximity. Whenever alternative suppliers are available at the national level, companies tend to choose and build up relations in the home region of the production plant. Supplier relations at international level, however, are dominated by parameters other than geographical proximity. Usually, international supplies involve special components and materials of key importance for the quality and competiveness of the final products. They must be acquired from key suppliers wherever they are located, either in country or abroad. For this kind of supply, the decisive parameter is “quality” rather than “proximity.”

  • Recent decades have seen a major transformation and restructuring of the economic geography of the Nordic countries, due mainly to globalisation, the rise of the knowledge economy and the concentration of growth in the large urban areas. Globalisation processes have transformed the economies of the Nordic countries and the rest of Europe through, for instance, increased price competition from the low-wage countries, the expansion of new markets and stronger competition among global and local firms. As a result, many firms in Europe and the Nordic countries have increased their focus on innovation, as the competiveness of firms depends on their ability to innovate and improve their productivity through process improvement, new forms of organisation, increased product quality or producing new products (David & Foray, 2002). Knowledge is fundamental to innovation, and hence, the rise of the knowledge economy, e.g. an economy that is based on the production, distribution and use of know-how, has become a major constituent of the modern European economy.

  • The national case studies should comprise interviews with a selection of 5–9 companies and an introductory overview of relevant national research in the area.