OECD Territorial Reviews

1990-0759 (online)
1990-0767 (print)
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This series offers analysis and policy guidance to national and sub-national governments seeking to strengthen territorial development policies and governance. These reviews are part of a larger body of OECD work on regional development that addresses the territorial dimension of a range of policy challenges, including governance, innovation, urban development and rural policy. This work includes both thematic reports and reports on specific countries or regions.

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OECD Territorial Reviews: Switzerland 2011

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21 Jan 2011
9789264092723 (PDF) ;9789264092716(print)

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Regions in Switzerland are performing well in many respects. They have high levels of GDP per capita and low unemployment rates, and some regions show impressive growth rates. In addition, Swiss regions have not been confronted with the challenges faced by many similar regions in the OECD, such as limited access to services and population decline due to ageing or emigration. Regional labour productivity growth still requires further policy attention.

In order to improve regional economic performance, Switzerland introduced the New Regional Policy (NRP) in 2008, following the 2002 OECD Territorial Review of Switzerland. The NRP reflects a clear shift of focus from infrastructure and financial assistance towards economic support for the creation of value added to the regional economy. The current review provides recommendations on how the impact of the NRP can be increased through extended territorial coverage, inter-cantonal co-operation, and co-ordination of sectoral policies. This review also takes a close look at regional innovation policies, arguing that a division of roles should be achieved, with the federal level funding research and technology transfer on a country-wide basis, and cantons providing innovation support according to functional areas.

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  • Foreword
    At the beginning of this new millennium, regional economies are confronting momentous changes. The globalisation of trade and economic activity is increasingly testing their ability to adapt and maintain their competitive edge. There is a tendency for income and performance gaps to widen between and within regions, and the cost of maintaining social cohesion is increasing. Rapid technological change and greater use of knowledge are offering new opportunities for local and regional development but demand further investment from enterprises, reorganisation of labour and production, more advanced skills and environmental improvements.
  • Acronyms and Abbreviations
  • Assessment and Recommendations
    Regions in Switzerland show high levels of GDP per capita, a variety of strong economic sectors (as measured by their exporting performance) and a highly educated population, particularly in Région Lémanique (36.1% in 2006) and Zurich (37.7%). They have high levels of knowledge-intensive employment, especially in Zurich, and high-tech manufacturing in North-West Switzerland. Swiss regions score very high on patent applications, especially cantons such as Basel City. Moreover, they could be considered leaders in green growth. They are at the forefront of innovation in green technologies, such as energy efficiency and pollution abatement.
  • The State of Regions in Switzerland
    Regions form an important part of the Swiss state. This chapter presents an assessment of regional performance in Switzerland. It first describes the economic characteristics and institutional role of Swiss regions. It then assesses their strengths and challenges in an international perspective. Next it turns to the inter-linkages between regions, in order to highlight possible policy needs. The chapter concludes by identifying the main policy implications, which will be analysed in Chapters 2 and 3.
  • A New Regional Policy in Switzerland
    Switzerland has introduced a New Regional Policy (NRP) to support regional value-added creation more effectively. This chapter explores four ways to maximise policy impact: i) extending the NRP’s territorial coverage to reduce economic fragmentation and support polycentric development; ii) designing stronger incentives for intercantonal co-operation to facilitate policy synergies within functional economic areas; iii) enhancing co-ordination with sectoral policies, possibly through a formal co-ordination (or a possible merger) between the NRP and agglomeration policy, and closer collaboration between the NRP and agricultural policy; and iv) building strategic management and evaluation capacity both at federal and cantonal levels, while abiding by the Swiss principle of subsidiarity.
  • Regional Innovation Policies in Switzerland
    The Swiss New Regional Policy (NRP) places a focus on promoting innovation across the whole country. This chapter presents a critical analysis of the current framework of federal and regional innovation policies. It first discusses the instruments implemented at federal level and their potential role for promoting innovation in the region. It then assesses the state of development of innovation promotion initiatives at regional level, including those supported by the NRP, with a specific focus on the case of Eastern Switzerland. The chapter then concludes by identifying the main challenges for developing innovation policies in, and for regions in Switzerland, and derives policy recommendations for better articulation between policies and instruments developed at the levels of the Confederation and the cantons.
  • Annex A
  • Annex B
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