Marques, P., Morgan, K.
Good institutions and high quality of governance are generally considered to be prerequisites for economic growth and other positive socio-economic outcomes. This is due to their role in framing decisions by agents, including policymakers, business owners or individuals. Despite the many theoretical and empirical contributions to their study, we argue that three elements deserve further attention. First is the importance of avoiding simplistic dichotomies between good vs bad institutions, a classification that obscures as much as it reveals. Second is the need to take more seriously the multi-scalar nature of institutions, particularly when studying regional policy. Third is the balance between structure and agency, which avoids deterministic readings of underdevelopment. We develop these three elements with four case studies of European regions and conclude that the scale and scope of their innovation policies is limited by nation-states and the European Union. Nonetheless, agents can (and do) mobilise to improve governance, even when operating under restrictive conditions.