4. A practitioner’s toolbox for action to advance industrial transition

In 2019, the OECD developed a toolkit of policy responses to industrial transition as part of its work with eight European Union (EU) regions and two EU countries, which was integrated into the OECD report Regions in Industrial Transition: Policies for People and Places (2019[1]). The toolkit focused on policy issues and policy responses relevant to industrial transition in five areas: i) preparing for the future of work; ii) broadening and diffusing innovation; iii) promoting entrepreneurship and private sector engagement; iv) transiting towards a climate-neutral economy; and v) promoting inclusive growth.

This 2023 toolbox is divided into two basic tools. The first is an updated version of the 2019 policy lever toolkit, incorporating the new analytical components and policy levers explored through the High Impact Actions (HIAs) analysed in Chapter 3 of this report. It is structured along the five dimensions of industrial transition noted above and incorporates four new ones: framework conditions, strategic planning, stakeholder engagement and smart specialisation. The second part is a checklist for policy makers who wish to apply an experimental approach to policies or initiatives targeting industrial transition.

The toolkit below combines the policy levers for supporting industrial transition revealed in the first phase of the European Commission-OECD Pilot Action on Regions in Industrial Transition and published in 2019, with the tools identified through this new (2022-23) phase of work.

It is organised around the nine dimensions explored in Chapter 4 of this report (Figure 4.1). The first three – all governance dimensions – are presented here for the first time. The subsequent six begin with new levers highlighted through this project and are followed by those that were identified in 2019, plus smart specialisation which was added in 2023.

The toolkit is by no means exhaustive and what is suggested must be considered within – and adapted to – the context of the individual region or country, its industrial transition objectives, challenges and implementation capacities.

The intention is for policy makers to use what is presented here as a guide or repository of helpful ideas, once they have established a clear set of objectives for industrial transition.

Policy experimentation refers to a process in which innovative policies or programmes are tested on a small scale before potentially being implemented on a larger scale. It involves a learning-by-doing approach that allows policy makers to understand the effectiveness of proposed policies and to adjust them if necessary (Centre for Public Impact, 2018[2]).

The following checklist is intended to serve as a guide for policy makers thinking about an experimental approach to support industrial transition. The checklist should be considered as a tool to identify what elements should be in place to increase the probability for an experimental initiative to successfully advance industrial transition goals. In particular, policy makers and practitioners in regions (or countries) in industrial transition can use the checklist to self-assess their policy experimentation readiness. The checklist should not be considered exhaustive and users are welcome to add additional ideas relevant to their needs and context.

The checklist is inspired by the insights gathered from the regions and countries participating in the European Commission-OECD pilot project. It is designed to lead policy makers through a set of steps:

  1. 1. Situation assessment.

  2. 2. Planning the experiment.

  3. 3. Implementing the experiment.

  4. 4. Engaging with stakeholders.

  5. 5. Monitoring, evaluating and learning.

Each step has a series of associated statements or questions a policy maker can ask themselves to consider when thinking about an experimental approach. To help guide the process, there is a checklist at the end of each row where the policy maker can indicate whether the response to the question is “yes” or “no”. There is also a place for comments/notes should the policy maker decide to provide more information about the status of a particular activity, identify targets, timing, stakeholders, partners, etc.

Once complete, the checklist could guide the policy maker in the development of an action plan for applying an experimental approach to initiatives that can help advance a region’s industrial transition.


[2] Centre for Public Impact (2018), A Brief Introduction to... Policy Experimentation, https://www.centreforpublicimpact.org/assets/documents/CPI-A-brief-intoduction-to-Policy-experimentation.pdf.

[1] OECD (2019), Regions in Industrial Transition: Policies for People and Places, OECD Regional Development Studies, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/c76ec2a1-en.

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