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The Journal of Technology Transfer

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 91–100 | Cite as

Small Islands versus Big Cities: Lessons in the Political Economy of Regional Development from the World’s Small Islands

  • Godfrey Baldacchino
Article

Abstract

Population, employment and economic capacity continue to concentrate in and around large urban centres. If geography (measured as proximity to large centres of population) increasingly matters in the knowledge economy, then there may be no future for periphery locations. This paper critically reviews and refutes this hypothesis by looking at the world’s small islands. Handicapped by size and distance, they are unable to generate scale dynamics nor to regularly access any neighbouring, large metropolitan centres. Nevertheless, jurisdictional resourcefulness resulting from sovereignty or sub-national autonomy fosters compensatory policy capacity. Demand for niche-technology manufactures and craft-based, labour-intensive or place-specific services is likely to persist. Cyclical migration strategies allow islanders seeking work or education off island to tap the metropole and re-inject resources to reinvigorate the periphery. Remittances, aid, bureaucracy and other “rents” can provide significant fiscal resources necessary for survival.

Keywords

innovation space knowledge regions 

JEL Classification

O11 P16 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Canada Research Chair in Island StudiesUniversity of Prince Edward IslandCharlottetownCanada

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