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The county as a regional development actor

Ann Camilla Schulze-Krogh disputerer 5. september 2018 med avhandlingen «Regional industrial development: The role of firms and regional policy learning”. (Foto: Privat)

“The goal has been to let knowledge and findings from research contribute to a deeper understanding of what is important to consider when developing industrial and commercial policies.”

Ann Camilla Schulze-Krogh

PhD candidate / adviser

Ann Camilla Schulze-Krogh defends her PhD thesis “Regional industrial development: The role of firms and regional policy learning” on Wednesday 5 September 2018. She is the first doctoral candidate at UiA under the Public Sector PhD scheme.

Schulze-Krogh was leader of VRI-Agder when the doctoral proposal was designed. VRI – Measures for regional research and innovation was a programme by the Research Council of Norway focusing on innovation through interaction and aimed to “develop knowledge about interaction in innovation processes in the regions and promote research-based innovation in Norwegian industry and business”. VRI was discontinued in 2017 and replaced by Regional initiative for research-based innovation (REGIONSATSING), later changed to FORREGION – Research-based innovation in the regions.

In June this year Minister of Research and Higher Education Iselin Nybø was informed about the Public Sector PhD scheme, and the first theses were presented.

“Businesses with their own research expertise and understanding benefit mostly from such schemes. The ones who lack the expertise need more time and resources to achieve the same effect”, Schulze-Krog explained.

She looked at the service and supply industry in Agder, Rogaland and Hordaland among other things.

“The broader the professional skills base, the better they manage during a recession. Businesses that recruit with an interdisciplinary approach can better transform to other sectors than oil. We call it ‘interdisciplinary innovation ability’”, she told.

Ann Camilla Schulze-Krogh has been enrolled in the doctoral programme at the School of Business and Law at UiA and is the first candidate at UiA, and the third in the country, under the Public Sector PhD scheme.

The scheme implies that the work is financed by the Research Council of Norway and a public employer, for Schulze-Krogh’s part Aust-Agder County. She has been an employee at Aust-Agder County throughout the project period.

One of the goals of her doctoral work was to ensure that the county retains the strategic skills and experiences VRI-Agder has garnered.

This is how the candidate expresses the main points of her thesis:

Industrial, commercial and skills development in a time of systemic change

The goal of the project has been threefold:

  • Firstly, Schulze-Krog has researched which regional characteristics affect industrial and commercial development and growth in the various regions.
  • Secondly, the goal was to discover what characterises the innovation methods and learning processes of the various firms. Including how the various firms utilise and make use of regional political measures like VRI for instance.
  • Lastly, a goal was to draw conclusions and discuss the significance of these regional variations for the development and creation of new regional political measures.

Building up knowledge

The PhD project is an article thesis containing five articles.

All together the articles are devoted to explaining and giving insight into various stakeholders (firms, knowledge intensive organisations and political organisations) in regional innovations systems (RIS) and their ability to make use of new knowledge and thereby increase their innovative capacity.

The articles also describe how socio-cultural and firm specific factors influence the impact of various regional political measures and smart specialisation programmes implemented in some Norwegian counties.

Further, the research gives insight into who the central actors are in the entrepreneurial discovery process in various regions.

Research findings

One result is that long term innovation activities in firms are affected by their ability to absorb and utilise external knowledge and especially policy implemented research-based knowledge. 

Other findings suggest that the conditions for knowledge sharing and learning in the region affects the firm’s internal capacity for cross sector collaboration and innovation processes.

Further, the findings suggest that these regional and firm specific conditions affect the quality of cooperation between the firm and research hubs.

The goal has been to let knowledge and findings from research contribute to a deeper understanding of what is important to consider when developing industrial and commercial policies.


Disputation facts:

The candidate: Ann Camilla Schulze-Krogh (1974 in Oslo), lives in Arendal. BA and MAS from the University of Bergen/ London School of Economics and Political Science. Worked on regional development and industrial and commercial development for 15 years. Former employers: Oslo Business Region, Innovation Norway Agder, Agderforskning and Aust-Agder County. Current position: Adviser in Aust-Agder County.

The trial lecture and public defence takes place in Auditorium C2040, Campus Grimstad, Wednesday 5 September 2018.

Dean Kristin Wallevik will chair the public defence.

Trial lecture at 11.15 am

Public defence at 13.15 pm

Given topic for trial lecture: “Regional development policy in a time of systemic change: what is the role of regional innovation policy?"

Thesis title: “Regional industrial development: The role of firms and regional policy learning”

Search for the thesis in AURA - Agder University Research Archive, a digital archive of scientific papers, theses and dissertations by academic staff and students at the University of Agder. AURA is updated regularly. The thesis will be available at the University Library, and some copies will also be available for loan at the auditorium where the disputation takes place.


First opponent: Professor Markku Sotarauta, University of Tampere, Finland

Second opponent: Senior Researcher Miren Larrea at Orkestra – Basque Institute of Competitiveness, Deusto Foundation, Spain 

The assessment committee is led by Associate Professor Stina Torjesen, University of Agder

Supervisors were Professor Arne Isaksen at the Department of Working Life and Innovation at the School of Business and Law, University of Agder (main supervisor), and Associate Professor Tor Helge Aas at the Department of Management, University of Agder (co-supervisor). Mentor in Aust-Agder County was regional director Kirsten Borge.