The shift to a knowledge‐based economy and the resurgence of interest in the region as a scale of economic organization have been a subject of much debate. Such concepts as innovation, learning, and knowledge diffusion have all come to be seen as crucial elements of regional development strategies associated with the new regionalism. Specifically, the learning region — shifting the focus from technological progress to institutional and cultural factors — has been thought of as offering particularly interesting insights into the mechanisms of regional economies. Yet doubts are being cast on whether the processes of development are actually as critical to the spatial workings of the economy as the paradigm assumes. This is of relevance to a post‐Communist country such as Poland, which, having undergone a systemic transformation, seems to be marked by growing core–periphery and urban–rural divides. Thus, the question arises of whether the theories associated with the new regionalism might help Polish regions to transform their economic fortunes. This article, while emphasizing new regionalism’s inadequacies and flaws, argues that some of its premises should form part of a comprehensive strategy aiming to address Poland’s regional‐level problems. Hence it makes a case for an eclectic approach that combines nationwide economic liberalization with certain precepts of the new regionalism.