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42nd Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "From Industry to Advanced Services - Perspectives of European Metropolitan Regions", August 27th - 31st, 2002, Dortmund, Germany
More than a decade has passed since the end of the Cold War. This phase has been characterised by shrinking defence contracts, far-reaching structural changes, and concentration processes in the defence industry. Thus, today the military industrial base presents itself in a different way: Former specialities have been reduced and the conditions of defence production have been adjusted to commercial ones. The moment seems to be opportune to reflect upon regional economies characterised by a high concentration of defence industry and to illuminate their present development conditions. In this context the study focuses on two particular questions: Do structural changes in the defence sector impede or improve regional chances for a long lasting innovative development? Which governance potentials are at the regions' disposal to take advantage of the structural changes, of the strong national interest and the high research intensity of the regional military production? To complete German experiences in this field (esp. Bodenseeraum) also a French and an English region are analysed. In France the agglomeration of Toulouse shows a high concentration of defence industry. These activities date back to the two World Wars and have dramatically changed in the last years. Today the military production is an integral component of the regional aerospace industry. The strong dependency on state initiatives, on the aerospace sector, on international companies increases the sensitiveness of the currently innovative economy to changes and limits the scope of action at the regional level. Public actors are conscious of these risks and have already set first steps to strengthen endogenous development initiatives. Unfortunately the public sector is quite fragmented, a multitude of different actors with specific constellations and coalitions of their varied interests and with differring resources and capacities is involved in questions of regional development. An improved complementarity and compatibility of the wide-spread single strategies is gaining importance. But so far the largely passive dependence of the regional economy on the innovative stimuli by the state or by the international companies has induced regional actors to neglect a more active take-up of extra-regional influences for intra-regional gains. Currently the region around Bristol is analysed. First results will be known in spring. The comparison of the different agglomerations will give an idea of governance capacities in regions with a high concentration of defence industry. At the moment the following statements appear in outlines. Structural changes in the defence sector include positive stimuli for the innovation capacities of concerned regional economies. But these stimuli have to be actively taken up and be used for regional aims. Policy-learning, transparency, information, and co-ordination seem to constitute essential aspects to foster the perception, the identification as well as the utilisation of extra-regional inputs as chances for the regional development.
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