Knowledge Based Economic Areas and Flagship Universities: A Look at the New Growth Ecosystems in the US and California by John Aubrey Douglass


The acceptance of new growth theory relates, in part, to a number of highly touted regional success stories – or what I term “Knowledge Based Economic Areas” (KBEAs) in this and past essays. The United States, and California in particular, is viewed as perhaps the most robust creators of KBEAs, providing an influential model that is visited and revisited by business and government leaders, and other Flagship (or leading national) universities, that wish to replicate their strengths within their own cultural and political terms.  While California has a number of unique characteristics, including a robust University of California system with a strong internal academic culture and devotion to public service, the story of its historical and contemporary success as an agent of economic development is closely linked to a number of key contextual factors. These relate to the internal culture, governance and management capacity of major universities in the United States, national investment patterns in R&D, the business environment, including the concentration of Knowledge Based Businesses, the acceptance of risk, and the availability of venture capital, legal variables related to Intellectual Property (IP) and tax policies, the quality of regional workforces, and quality of life factors that are important components for attracting and retaining talent. In most of these KBEAs variables, California has enjoyed an advantage that helps to partially explain the success of the University of California (UC) and other major research universities as agents of economic development. This study focuses on seven contextual variables common to all KBEAs in the United States and much of the world, and with particular attention to the UC system – a network of ten research-intensive campuses.

Publication date: 
October 1, 2016
Publication type: 
Research and Occasional Papers Series (ROPS)
KNOWLEDGE BASED ECONOMIC AREAS AND FLAGSHIP UNIVERSITIES: A Look at the New Growth Ecosystems in the US and California By John Aubrey Douglass, UC Berkeley CSHE 9.16 (October 2016)