↑ Return to Talent

Case studies

In this paper, we contribute to this journey by delving into the five regions that participate in the project, and probing their perspectives on the need for and promotion of ‘talent’. Our methodology is as follows. We first review the region’s problem definition – what are a region’s general development issues and challenges? What issues concern the nurturing and attraction of talent? How are ‘talent’ issues related to other issues? Then, we examine in what forms and ways these concerns are translated in policy issues and agendas.

Based on the description of policy responses in the previous paragraph and on literature on regional development, we want to classify the data in two mappings.

  • The first one is to map them onto policy structures.
  • The second one is to map our findings onto seven policy domains

Then we present cases.

Policy structures
Looking at the way policies are structured, a basic distinction is made between:

  • general policies and strategies, as captured in regional foresight and strategy documents
  • domain-specific policies and strategies, dealing with domains such as education, sectoral development (clustering), research and innovation, land use planning, transport planning, internationalisation etc.
  • programming, resulting from running policy programmes from the nation state or EU (such as EFRO or Interreg), that require the articulation of regional problem definitions
  • projects, often, but not necessarily, generated in the context of bigger programmes
  • collaboration and networking, that is, the development of particular forms of governance involving different regional actors focusing, in one way or another, on ‘talent’.

The Policy domains are the following
Strategic development. What key choices are made, and priorities set, by the regional strategy, programme
or project under study, and how is this supported (for instance by SWOT analysis?)? This focus may target, in particular, certain economic activities (clusters), business types, international orientations, local modes of governance and interaction (with local research, education and training organisations, business associations, etc.)?
Quality of life. What measures are taken or proposed to increase the living conditions and experiences in the region, ranging from basic infrastructure like housing and transport to more specific provisions and amenities (culture, sport, etc.)? To what extent are these specifically geared to accommodating what are considered as ‘talented’ workers? How is the attractiveness of the region translated in quality of life?
Image building and branding. How are the choices made and proposed framed and communicated? What other regional characteristics are featured in the way the region is portrayed to the outside world as well as to its own citizens? How does image building and branding serve to boost a region’s attractivity?
Business support: What measures are taken to improve business performance and their role in the attraction, nurturing and employment of talent? Here a basic distinction can be made between different types of firms. Large firms often have the capacity to develop specific recruitment – including headhunt – policies, training programmes and to improve local living conditions. For SMEs, on the other hand, ‘talent’ presents a key resource for acquiring knowledge, networking, foresight and, through that, boosting innovation.
Labour market. How is the functioning of the labour market improved? This can entail the provision and circulation of information on labour demand and supply, the targeting of particular social groups, facilitation of self-employment, etc.
Education policies and measures. How is the local potential for talent ‘tapped’ and nurtured? How are the new generations encouraged to partake in education – craft-oriented, vocational and academic – to the best of their abilities? What possibilities for life-long learning are offered, on what conditions?

In the framework of the BUTTON project 5 regional case studies were carried out with the following results:

Greater Basel, Switzerland

For Basel, both the city and county, ‘talent’ is associated primarily with top talent working in core economic clusters of the region, specialising in the life sciences and nanotechnology. The main policy instruments for boosting innovation within these clusters are threefold. There are ‘hard’ measures resulting in investments in new life science research and teaching …

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The Hamar region in Hedmark comprises of the following four municipalities; Hamar, Stange, Ringsaker and Løten. The region has set itself the goal to become the ‘most attractive inland region of Scandinavia 2020’. The core organisation pursuing this strategy is the Hamar Region Development Agency, an agency founded in 2006 and organized as an association …

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Navarra is wedged between three major urban agglomerations, all with a major pull effect: Madrid, Barcelona and the Basque triangle of San Sebastian, Bilbao and Vitoria. Navarra is one of the 17 autonomous regions within Spain, and is thus governed as a separate unit as part of a federation-like state. Policy-making, accordingly, is organised in …

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NRW, Ostwestfalen-Lippe

Ostwestfalen-Lippe (OWL),shares some key characteristics with Twente. It is an area with several medium-sized cities located at considerable distance from major urban agglomerations, such as the Ruhr area, Bremen-Oldenburg or Hannover-Wolfsburg. It has some important educational institutions, vocational and in applied sciences. The area manifests little attractiveness to workers from outside, while substantial numbers of …

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The Twente region could be viewed as a typical ‘brain drain’ area. The region, the Eastern part of the province of Overijssel bordering with Germany, hosts a large number of educational institutions, at vocational and academic levels. While most students come from the own region, the main academic institution, the University of Twente, also attracts …

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For our case study in the province Gelderland we focussed on the region Wageningen-Arnhem-Nijmegen (WAN)   Until recently, unemployment did not pose a challenge for the province of Gelderland in which the region of Wageningen-Arnhem-Nijmegen is located. The unemployment rate fluctuated around 3,3% (2006) to 2,8% (2009) which can be considered full employment. This means the …

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