Governance mechanisms of regional innovation systems: a comparative study of Yangtze River Delta, China and the State of Victoria, Australia

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Regional Innovation

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This joint PhD project is based at The University of Melbourne with a 12-month stay at the Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

Key questions:

  • What are the structures of the regional innovation system in Yangtze River Delta, China and the State of Victoria, Australia?
  • What are their evolutionary trajectories and growth mechanisms?
  • How are these regional innovation systems governed and how effective are these governance structures?
  • What are the lessons to be drawn?

Project description


Innovation underpins economic growth and social prosperity, which does not happen in isolation but relies on a supporting ecosystem as highlighted in the annual Australian Innovation System Report.

A functional regional innovation system (RIS) provides such an ecosystem, but little is known about its potential structure and growth trajectory, nor the governance mechanisms to support its resilience.

Current studies have offered insights towards microlevel dynamics based on company and/or sectorial analysis, but failed to unveil satisfactorily the growth trajectory of a RIS (Luo & Sun 2020), crucial to understanding the resilience of a system to crises, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic. Australia’s Innovation System Report covers static indicators but says little about why changes happen, calling for in-depth study in this regard.

Therefore, a comprehensive definition and measurement structure of RIS governance is needed to better compare and improve its efficiency and effectiveness.

This PhD project aims to shed light on nurturing a functional RIS through a better understanding of its structure, growth, and governance mechanisms. Yangtze River Delta and the State of Victoria are chosen as case studies, investigated through a mixed quantitative-qualitative method.

The project will be complemented by the project on 'Housing the creative workers: a comparative study of Shanghai and Melbourne' and the collaboration will ensure the successful completion of both projects.

Supervision team

Dr Julie Tian Miao (The University of Melbourne)
Prof Zhiwei LIan (Shanghai Jiao Tong University)

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