The role of universities in regional development strategies: a comparison across actors and policy stages

Liliana Fonseca, Lisa Nieth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
150 Downloads (Pure)


The emergence of collaborative approaches in innovation policy and regional governance has increased expectations for universities to engage in strategy making and assume broader roles and responsibilities. Nonetheless, complexities inherent to the policy process, regional context and universities’ own institutional and organisational capacity are often ignored or under-explained when framing universities’ roles. Although these roles are frequently introduced, they have been superficially conceptualised in the literature. This study develops a deeper theoretical and empirical understanding of universities’ contributions in the different stages of regional innovation strategy processes. Through a comparative case study of four European universities, it explores the variation of these roles by policy stage and university actors involved in the strategies. Findings suggest universities have expanded to perform new planning-related roles (e.g. consultation, mediation) and that diverse factors (e.g. the regional context, such as urban versus peripheral) determine their participation in regional strategies. However, strategic coordination within universities and with regional bodies is needed for the optimisation of their engagement in the regional governance process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)298-315
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Urban and Regional Studies
Issue number3
Early online date8 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021


  • innovation
  • policy process
  • public policies
  • regional development
  • regional strategies
  • universities


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