ABSTRACT

The literature is full of claims that regions provide integrative opportunities, and are drivers of innovation and growth (Boschma, 2008). This chapter addresses the sustainable development of regions. ‘Regions’ here refer to the sub-national level. In order to realize regional sustainable development, system innovations are needed (Elzen et al., 2004). These are not just about isolated instances of innovation brought about by a few people, but about changes in the way of looking, thinking and acting, with sweeping consequences for the arrangement of organizations, markets, technology, social relations and concepts (Whitley, 2000; Termeer, 2007). Because these challenges exceed the jurisdictions of single organizations, sustainable innovation can only be analysed by studying the entire regional gov - ern ance system. These systems are composed of many public, private and societal actors, and are bonded together by dynamic interdependencies. As these systems lack formal hierarchical leadership over all resources needed to implement sustainable innovations, the power of official leaders to change the whole system is limited. Nevertheless, many leaders say they take initiatives for the sake of a better and more sustainable region. Against this background we are interested in the question how can individual leaders generate complex collective action towards regional sustainable innovations?