↑ Return to Case studies


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 a more formal, more top-down manner, as manifested through a number of regional plans covering with the main dimensions of the economy: internationalisation and innovation.

Characteristic for policy-making in Spain is the separation between strategy formulation and plan-making on the one hand, and policy implementation and evaluation on the other. It is part of the local political culture to invest much energy into the preparation of comprehensive plans strategies, supported by detailed assessments of local strengths and weaknesses in view of wider opportunities and threats, using extensive data and analyses. Policy implementation is understood in a conventional sense, that is, of creating the means through which the ends articulated in the plans can be met. However, policy implementation is generally based on channels of decision-making and resource allocation that are not fully in tune with the political processes of plan-making. The results are an, on balance, major gap between plan-making and policy implementation. This effect is compounded because the goals set in the plans are often very ambitious and extensive. This makes sense from a perspective of political decision-making but not of policy practice. It is in light of this institutional and political-cultural context that we should gauge the developments and initiatives observed in Navarra.

Our study has identified eight strategic documents (studies or plans) which directly or indirectly bear on the role of talent in the local economy. Three do this in a direct way. The first one ‘Navarra: Competitive talent’, has been commissioned by the main regional business confederation, and provides qualitative and quantitative insights into the role of talent in the regional economy. Two other talent-oriented documents are plans produced by the regional authorities together with the business sector:
– ‘Strategies for attracting talent in Navarra 2009. Talentia’, developing practices for firms to nurture and employ regional talent, to raise their competitiveness. .
– ‘Methodology for the identification, evaluation and development of creative talent in organization’, developing a tool measuring, in a systemic and rigorous way, the level of creative talent within firms, with the aim of turning this into a strategic tool for business development.
A fourth study, also issued by the government and business sector, focuses on the efficient and effective use of labour in business organisations: ‘Research on the contribution of the human competitiveness of the enterprise’.

Then there are four strategic documents that focus on the regional economy in a more general way. They are all produced jointly by government, business and civic society organisations:
– ‘Moderna, the new Economic Development Model for Navarra’: a medium to long term Strategic Regional Plan, covering human talent, business development and wider socio-economic conditions. It covers our dimension of ‘strategic development’, and focuses on a wide set of issues, including sustainability, innovation, entrepreneurship, education, training, partly general and partly focused towards specific clusters, notably the health and biotechnology sectors.
– International plan for Navarra 2008/2011, focusing on the internationalisation of local business, notably through raising export levels; this presents a case of hands-on ‘business support’, but also bears on education and branding;
– Third Technology plan for Navarra 2008-2011, seeking to boost the level of R&D expenses in the region, and the collaboration between universities, technology centres and firms. This maps straightforwardly onto the category of innovation;
-IV employment plan for Navarra 2009-2012, aiming at improving skill levels and professional qualifications. This plan can be classified under the category of ‘education policies’.

Policy structure
The focus in Navarra is very much on general policies and strategies, elaborated in domain specific policies.

Policy domains
Overall, these sets of strategic documents manifest the comprehensive nature of Navarra’s economic planning. All main aspects are extensively considered and turned into strategic prescriptions. The only link that received less attention is that between talent and Quality of Life. Again, there is no overarching framework targeting talent, although the ‘International Plan’ goes somewhat into that direction. Nevertheless, what we can derive from the variety of plans and initiatives is basically a double approach to talent. The first entails improving the capabilities of Navarra’s population, nurturing its talent and boosting its international orientation. Various strategies stress the importance of language skills, as well as of foreign visits as part of educational and work activities, and the facilitation of international careers, notably within core international organisations. Second, through a strategy of outreach, new talent should come from immigration. Like Spain in general, Navarra’s demographic situation is defined by a low birth rate, and rapid ageing. Immigration presents the key solution to change this demographic evolution. What remains quite a challenge, however, is to attract immigrants with higher levels of education. A double strategy is thus pursued, one of attracting talent and one improving skills and competencies through raising the education levels of existing immigrants. The support of business is aimed at clustering and promoting exports.