Special Sessions - RSA Annual Conference Lugano 2018

A World of Flows: Labour Mobility, Capital and Knowledge in an Age of Global Reversal and Regional Revival

The organisers encourage joining special sessions, themed workshops and innovative forms of networking and collaboration. As part of the 2018 Annual Conference, participants can submit their abstracts to Special Sessions listed below. Special Sessions are a great way to bring together presenters to discuss and highlight a particular topic and to develop or further extend your network.

There are two types of Special Sessions:

Open Special Session – the session organiser proposes the topic and provides a short description/ call for submissions. Delegates can submit their abstract for this session when they register for the conference.
Closed Session – the session organiser proposes the complete session including all speakers. Other delegates may not submit their abstracts for this session.

Both sessions are open to all delegates to attend as audience.

SS1. Participatory Research and Planning

Session organiser(s)

dr. Janez Nared (janez.nared@zrc-sazu.si), Anton Melik Geographical Institute, Scientific Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts

Participatory research and planning help to overcome the shortage of the top-down research and planning, namely, traditional  top-down research and planning may alienate local community members and fail to capture locally important factors. Consequently, top-down initiatives achieve lower results on the accomplishment of local communities’ goals and end-user satisfaction. Participatory approach - from participatory to transdisciplinary research, in which it is important that researchers from various academic groups begin working with participants from the very beginning, helps to shape (or ‘co-design’) the study in line with their – the participants' – needs. The aim of participatory research and planning is to foster partnerships and joint management instead of serving the partial interests of individual regional actors. Successful management of the participation process enables to achieve many goals: ironing out differences between different perspectives, preventing unproductive competition, shaping solutions acceptable to all social groups, ensuring the participation and motivation of local actors, participants’ identification with decisions that concern their environment, and strengthening their creativity and recognition. Incorporating the views of the public into planning decisions gives the decisions greater legitimacy and it increases empowerment, enhances vision-making and advocacy capabilities. It can be used to inform and involve a more diverse public audience, deepen mutual understandings, cross interest relationships, explore and integrate new ideas and solutions that may not have been considered otherwise, and ensure that planning and decision-making are informed by the needs and interests of the communities affected. The participation process strengthens regional identity, initiates a process of social learning, enhances local knowledge and promotes comparative advantages based on local knowledge. Participatory processes require sensitive attention in order to not increase the socioeconomic differences between groups in the population, but instead reducing and eliminating such differences.

Participation also has its disadvantages, especially because of its duration and financial demands. Often individual groups are excluded if they do not have the knowledge, skills and/or resources to participate in such a demanding and lengthy process. Additional weaknesses become manifest if the participation process is informal, i.e. participation scenes that lack legal backing are unable to take measures, their proposals are nonbinding, and their opportunities to carry out the decisions they adopt are also limited.

The role of participatory planning is exceptionally important because local cultures, geographical conditions, urban economic composition, local management styles, and local governance conditions are site-specific and have a significant influence on planning decisions. Planning is thereby accorded higher quality, legitimacy, affiliation, and support from the population, which is a precondition for successfully implementing planning activities.

It is, however, not enough to simply invite regional actors to participate. It is necessary to take their opinions into account and to put them into practice to the greatest extent possible, thereby creating a communicative and non-adversarial environment for everyone.

Possible topics of interest for this special session, but not exclusively, are the following:

- theory on participatory research and planning;
- methods in participatory research and planning;
- e-participation: methods and tools;
- experiences from the field;
- evaluating results and benefits of participatory research;
- transdisciplinary research and co-designing new knowledge;
- local (community) development by participation;
- comparison of results gained by classic and participatory processes;
- generalization of results, based on participation.

The aim of the session is to connect individuals and organisations, interested in participatory research and planning into a network that opens new perspectives for the future cooperation.

Please submit proposals for papers in the form of a 250-word abstract (text only) through the RSA conference portal by Friday 23rd February 2018. Proposals will be considered by the Conference Programme Committee against the criteria of originality, interest and subject balance.

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SS2. Brave New Territorial Enclosure?

Session organiser(s)

Bilge Serin, Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE), The University of Glasgow

Cities and regions across the globe have been experiencing flows of people and capital as well as ideas and information with an unprecedented pace since the early 2000s. While some of these flows are embraced, some of them are widely contested such as refugee influx to European countries and the flows of discriminatory practices and ideas. Following this acceleration in these flows, although it may seem counterintuitive, territorial enclosures became a global phenomenon. These enclosures exclude particular groups from urban areas and services while creating emerging groups of outcasts. These practices have implications for housing provision, inequality and social (in)justice in contemporary cities and regions. Growing and variegated segregation in urban space became a widespread manifestation of these emerging territorial enclosures.

The session aims to discuss emerging and expanding versions of territorial enclosures including (but not limited to) housing enclaves, gated communities, private cities, mass-survellienced (pseudo) public spaces, controlled-access zones and refugee camps as well as exclusionary practices of service provision and limitations on accessing key urban infrastructure.

The session particularly welcomes papers based on case studies and/or comparative research on development dynamics of emerging territorial enclosures.

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SS3. Spatial and Socioeconomic Spillovers from Renewable Energy Technologies

Session organiser(s)

Dr. Marcello Graziano (Central Michigan University), Dr. Johannes Rode (TU Darmstadt)

Renewable energy technologies (RETs) have been diffusing widely over the past decade. As RETs become more diffused, their interaction with local and regional socioeconomic systems is likely to increase, affecting and possibly changing the role of utilities (e.g. Warren & McFayden, 2010), the manufacturing landscapes of adopting countries (e.g. Graziano et al., 2017), people’s well-being (Krekel & Zerrahn, 2017) or even voting behaviour (Comin & Rode, 2013). These changes often generate spillovers on neighboring regions and may have different implications over time. Also, due to these social, economic, and policy spillovers, resistance to RETs exists (Pasqualetti, 2011). As RETs become dominant in certain regions, resistance may increase (Gee, 2010), or spillovers may influence the diffusion process in unexpected ways.

In light of recent developments in regional and spatial analysis, this session offers the opportunity to present new empirical and theoretical research on spatial and socioeconomic spillovers from RETs. In the session, we focus on ways to investigate, model, and deal with social and economic RET spillovers. We invite papers that:

- Use empirical research to model and investigate the role of spatial and socioeconomic spillovers in the diffusion of RETs,

- Use empirical research to estimate the regional economic effects of RET spillovers,

- Formulate theoretical frameworks for overcoming current methodological and theoretical limitations, addressing issues such as aggregation problems, and the interaction between time and space.


Comin, D. & Rode, J. (2013). From Green Users to Green Voters. NBER Working Paper No. 19219.
Krekel, C. & Zerrahn, A. (2017). Does the presence of wind turbines have negative externalities for people in their surroundings? Evidence from well-being data. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 82: 221-238.
Gee, K. (2010). Offshore wind power development as affected by seascape values on the German North Sea coast. Land Use Policy, 27, 185-194.
Graziano, M., Musso, M. & Lecca, P. (2017). Historic paths and future expectations: The macroeconomic impacts of the offshore wind technologies in the UK. Energy Policy, 108: 715-730.
Pasqualetti, M. J. (2011). Opposing wind energy landscapes: A search for common cause. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 101(4): 907-917.
Warren, C.R. & McFayden, M. (2010). Does community ownership affect public attitudes to wind energy? A case study from south-west Scotland. Land Use Policy, 27(2): 204-213.

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SS4. The Labour Mobility of Regional Change

Session organiser(s)

Martin Henning and Rikard Eriksson

In the wake of the recent recession, increasing attention has been given to the regional and individual effects of contracting industries and plant closures. While national employment levels and output tend to recover quickly after shocks, there is often a clear spatial mismatch between the destruction of old activities and the creation of new ones. This creates difficulties for some regions to successfully sustain employment and welfare.

While the literature concerned with individual effects of labour market redundancies has a long tradition in economic geography and labour economics, surprisingly few studies have been concerned with how regional structures influence the re-employment opportunities for redundant workers. Moreover, despite that economic geographers recently have re-gained focus on the mechanisms of regional economic transformation and how regional resources find new applications, there is a scarcity of studies assessing the other side of regional transformation. That is, the interdependence between contracting and growing activities, how regional economic structures may influence the recruitment into growing industries and how that in turn affects the geography of renewal. New data sources and methodologies provide rich opportunities to develop our knowledge about the micro-dynamics (i.e., labour mobility) of regional change, and if and how policy needs and can take space into account in a better way.

This session aims to gather theoretical, methodological and empirical contributions concerned with labour mobility as a response to economic shocks as well as a potential medium for regional change. Suggestions of topics could include:

The role of labour mobility in regional renewal processes
Post-redundancy adaption of different groups of workers
Spatial strategies and mobility of redundant workers and impact on future job security and/or income
New sector recruitment issues
Gender differences in post-redundancy regional mobility patterns
Regional mobility and entrepreneurship
The role of education and vocational training for re-employment
Policy implications arising from regional labour mobility studies

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SS5. Spatial Econometric Applications in Regional Science

Session organiser(s)

Giuseppe Arbia, Universita’ Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (Milano) and USI (Lugano)

Cross-sectional and dynamic spatial econometric methods are becoming pervasive in many regional disciplines. In particular, with the diffusion of large individual geocoded datasets, we are currently experiencing an increasing interest on the use of spatial microeconometric methods, a field which closely related to that of network econometrics. This raises new concern on the practical applicability of the current methodologies in the presence of very large datasets. This sessions aims at attracting contributions in the area from scholars that use spatial econometric models in many different applied fields.

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SS6. Towards a spatial perspective on smart urban governance

Session organiser(s)

Krisztina Varró, Utrecht University (k.varro@uu.nl) and Arnoud Lagendijk, Radboud University Nijmegen

Parallel to the mounting interest in the ‘smart city’ as a model of urban development and regeneration among policy-makers, in the past decade scholars have been at pains to make sense of this concern with ‘smartification’ and what it means in terms of urban change. Are smart city policies merely neoliberal entrepreneurial urban strategies in a new disguise (see Hollands, 2008; Söderström et al., 2014; Vanolo, 2014), or do they have the potential to address urban challenges in progressive ways (Rossi, 2016)? There seems to be consensus that these questions need to be addressed by in-depth case studies of “the actually existing smart city” (Shelton et al., 2015; see also Kitchin, 2015), teasing out the messy politics of smart city development (Taylor Buck and While, 2017; Meijer and Rodríguez Bolívar, 2016).

While the recent proliferation of such case studies is certainly enlightening, now it would be imperative to develop frameworks that 1) explain, in a more systematic fashion, why a particular ‘kind’ of smart city (policy) emerges in one place and not in another, and that 2) allow for a more meaningful comparison of different smart city initiatives and their actual impact. To this end, research on smart city governance should develop a more decidedly spatial perspective and focus on the ways in which the implementation of smart cities is shaped both by globally circulating policy ideas and practices, as well as by entrenched multi-scalar territorial-institutional frameworks (McCann and Ward, 2010; McCann, 2011).

Against the above background, this session would like to gather papers that explore, theoretically, methodologically and empirically, the ways in which territorial-institutional contexts matter for enacting the mobile concept of the smart city in specific places.

Topics of interest include (but are not limited to):

- the multi-scalar political processes and struggles through which the smart city becomes materialized in actual urban development practices;
- the way in which a certain aspect of smart city development – e.g. the drivers for smart city strategy-making, the framing of smart city policies, forms of public-private cooperation or emerging collaborative practices among stakeholders – is shaped by specific territorial-institutional conditions;
- the processes through which globally circulating smart city policy ideas, motives, practices and tools become remoulded to ‘fit’ local policy contexts;
- the differential role of EU cohesion policy and funding in generating smart city strategies and the (perhaps undesired) effects of this influence;
- the role of (both domestic and transnational) inter-city policy exchange in shaping local and national smart city policies and practices;
- the realization of smart city policies in ‘non-Western’ (including Central Eastern European) contexts (comparative studies of ‘non-Western’/’Western’ smart urbanism are especially welcome).

It is the intention of the session organizers to explore the possibilities of publishing the participating papers in a special issue.

Please submit proposals for papers in the form of a 250-word abstract through the RSA conference portal by Friday 23rd February 2018. Queries can be addressed to k.varro@uu.nl.

Hollands, R. G. (2008) Will the real smart city please stand up? Intelligent, progressive or entrepreneurial? City,2(3), 303-320.
Kitchin, R. (2015) Making sense of smart cities: addressing present shortcomings. Cambridge Journal of Regions,Economy and Society, 8(1), 131-136.
McCann, E. (2011) Urban policy mobilities and global circuits of knowledge: Toward a research agenda. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 101(1), 107-130.
McCann E.J. & Ward, K. (2010) Relationality/territoriality: Toward a conceptualization of cities in the world. Geoforum, 41(2), 175-184.
Meijer, A., & Bolívar, M. P. R. (2016) Governing the smart city: a review of the literature on smart urban governance. International Review of Administrative Sciences, 82(2), 392-408.
Rossi, U. (2016) The variegated economics and the potential politics of the smart city. Territory, Politics, Governance, 4(3), 337-353.
Shelton, T., Zook, M., & Wiig, A. (2015) The ‘actually existing smart city’. Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 8(1), 13-25.
Söderström, O., Paasche, T. & Klauser, F. (2014) Smart cities as corporate storytelling. Cities, 18(3), 307-320.
Taylor Buck, N. & While, A. (2017) Competitive urbanism and the limits to smart city innovation: The UK Future Cities initiative. Urban Studies, 54(2), 501-519.
Vanolo A (2014) Smartmentality: The smart city as disciplinary strategy. Urban Studies, 51(5), 883-898.

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SS7. What is the role of geography in promoting or hindering the implementation of smart specialization? The case of less-favoured regions in Europe.

Session organiser(s)

Iryna Kristensen and Jukka Teräs (Nordregio) and Alexandre Dubois (SLU)

There is the ongoing debate on the congruence between place-based development and regional competitiveness in the EU context.  The existence and persistence of regional disparities between European regions require context-tailored policies to promote structural change. The concept of Smart Specialisation suggests aligning innovation processes with the knowledge dynamics and contextual conditions encountered in each region e.g. socio-economic, institutional and geographical (McCann and Ortega-Argilés, 2013; Morgan, 2013).  However, although the concept of Smart Specialisation has gathered significant momentum during the past few years, its applicability (as well as long term effects of its application) in diverse territorial settings remains a particular area of debate.

The implementation of S3 concept raises a lot of challenges for regional policy makers and stakeholders (Morgan 2013; Foray 2015), especially in less-favoured regions where sometimes there is a lack of regional assets and competences necessary to initiate a learning process to discover the research and innovation domains in which a region can hope to excel. Allowing for diversity of territorial contexts, the session aims to open a debate on issue that has not yet been thoroughly addressed in the literature namely what is the role of geography in promoting or hindering the implementation of smart specialization? The term ‘less-favoured region’ is used as a generic term that encompasses a wide variety of reginal settings such as regions in industrial transition, institutionally/economically weak regions and areas with geographic specificity such as mountain or sparsely populated areas.

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SS8. Investigating Contradictions in EU´s Rural Development Policy in the Context of Intensifying Neoproductivist Pressures: Towards Novel Theoretical and Methodological Perspectives

Session organiser(s)

Prof. Edward Kasabov – Professor of Marketing, University of Huddersfield; Exeter Associate, University of Exeter; Fellow, ESRC/EPSRC Advanced Institute of Management Research. Edi’s earlier work focused on historical and longitudinal theory of clusters and regional development, as well as the identification of drivers of periphery and stunted growth. Current research interests include periphery in rurality, rural entrepreneurship, and entrepreneurial failure. Edi recently edited the volume Rural Cooperation: Its Nature, Consequences and Challenges (Palgrave Macmillan). His current work in the area of marketing interrogates ethically questionable practices such as compliance, service control, and marketing confusion. Edi is a member of a number of academic and practitioner forae, associations, and centres.

Assoc. Prof. Martin Pelucha - Martin Pelucha is an expert in the field of evaluation of regional and rural development policy. Martin Pelucha graduated at the University of Economics in Prague, Faculty of Economics and completed his Ph.D. studies in Regional Science and Public Administration in 2009. He was appointed as an associate professor on the base of successful habilitation procedure in the field of regional and administrative sciences at the University of Economics in Prague in 2015. His specialization is focused on evaluation of public expenditure programmes, both, EU cohesion policy and rural development policy. Martin Pelucha translates evidence based research results into concrete messages suitable for policymakers.

The session identifies and investigates intellectual inconsistencies and contradictions in the implementation of rural development policy by the European Union (EU) due to growing neo-productivist pressures. Such contradictions are often attributable to misunderstanding of the definition of rural development definition; this has been exacerbated by recent pressures associated with neoproductivism. The studied contradictions reduce the effectiveness of EU’s rural development policy, particularly with regard to its ability to achieve predefined goals related to balanced territorial development and cohesion.
The above intellectual and policy challenges necessitate the re-examination of the current position of EU’s Rural Development Policy, particularly in light of growing neo-productivist pressures and attendant political-economic agendas as well as the tendency for neoproductivism to be often misunderstood and less adequately, critically researched.
The purpose of the session is to, firstly, energise debates of the nature and role of rural development policy within paradigm shifts. Secondly, we advocate a revisit and interrogation of the extant, narrow academic and policy debates centred on “neo-productivist agriculture” and agricultural change. Thirdly, the session seeks to place centre-stage in academic discourses matters the marginalised matter of implications on rural development policymaking.

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SS9. Smart city research meets the geography of innovation

Session organiser(s)

Luís Carvalho (University of Porto), Willem van Winden (Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences) & Mário Vale (University of Lisbon)

Over the last decade, a whole new assemblage of technologies, devices and associated innovations started to become deployed and experimented in cities. Under the banner of the “smart city”, those include sensors, meters and software alongside the city´s infrastructure (e.g. energy, mobility, water), urban operating systems, (open) data platforms, the development of city apps, and many other technologies and IT-related innovations that promise to make cities better, cleaner, safer, more efficient, transparent, etc. These developments increasingly mobilise different types of actors, ranging from global tech companies to local grassroots movements, drawing on multiple geographies, local and global, permanent and temporary, which may influence how these innovations unfold and become embedded (or not) in society. Thus far, scholarship in urban geography and urban studies has developed a vigorous critique on smart city development but has paid less attention to the geographical and (socio-technical) innovation dimensions associated with it. At the same time, research focusing on the geographies of knowledge and innovation has not yet actively looked into smart city innovation as a new (multi-) knowledge and industrial domain that can bring new insights to current frameworks.

This session intends to (contribute to) bring these two research streams together. It seeks both conceptual and empirical papers that provide new viewpoints on how smart city innovations are being promoted, unfold and eventually travel across multiple places and spaces, who is involved and how these processes and geographies contribute to better understand (successful or unsuccessful) processes of smart city innovation and experimentation. Potential topics may include but are certainly not limited to:

The nature of smart city innovation;
Smart city innovation and different forms of proximity;
The types of knowledge involved in smart city innovation;
Temporary spaces for smart city innovation and experimentation;
Local and global dimensions of smart city innovation;
The actors and geographical dimensions of smart city embedding;
Upscaling and “travelling “of smart city solutions;
Territorial valuation and market creation for smart city innovation;
Smart city policy mobilities;
Smart city-related innovation policies.

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SS10. New Economic Spaces of Metropolis

Session organiser(s)

Prof. Maciej Smętkowski, Dr Dorota Celińska-Janowicz, Dr Katarzyna Wojnar, University of Warsaw – Centre for European Regional and Local Studies (EUROREG)

The main aim of the session is to discuss the impact of globalisation processes on spatial and functional transformation of metropolitan areas. One consequence of the inclusion of metropolises in the global space of flows is the development of new economic spaces, including, among others, secondary business districts (clusters of office space), areas concentrating high-tech and creative industries, and the new-generation shopping centres. In effect, an increasing polycentricity of the spatial structures of metropolitan areas can be observed, a process which may ultimately change the role or even weaken the traditional city centre.

This would require both new theoretical considerations as well as comparative or case study empirical research on territorial outcome of contemporary metropolisations processes. Thus possible topics of interest for this special session are the following:

Spatial and functional changes in metropolitan areas including transformation of existing spatial structures,
New or transformed  forms of territorial organisation i.e. business clusters, co-working spaces, spaces of consumptions etc.,
Emergence and transformation of business districts, including CBD and the secondary business districts,
Location patterns and behaviours of different industries, including culture and creative industries,
Changes of spatial linkages of companies expressed in flows of goods, workers, capital and information.
Policy response to the metropolisation processes at different levels of governance.

It is planned to explore the possibility of publishing submitted papers in a special issue.  

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SS11. From digital to spatial transformation: a relational perspective on the state of affairs

Session organiser(s)

Stefan Lüthi, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts
Michael Bentlage, Munich University of Technology
Alain Thierstein, Munich University of Technology

The global economic landscape appears to be more dynamic than ever. The digital transformation, structural change towards the knowledge economy and the economic and financial crisis from 2008/09 have brought about structural challenges for many advanced economies. Several factors play a crucial role in the restructuring of cities and regions. Since the 1990s, the knowledge economy is gaining importance and is now diversifying rapidly anew. New technologies and tools like data analytics spur digital transformation, automatization as well as industrialization of almost all services industries. Therewith, firms reorganize their localized value chains continuously in order to exploit agglomeration and network advantages. The abilities of firms and regions to innovate, reposition themselves and generate knowledge become more diverse. Cities and urban regions are confronted with a multitude of different structural and spatial driving forces. Urban transformation can be attributed to shifting inter-relationships of agglomeration economies and network economies at work. The importance of being close and being connected at the same time vary across time, spatial scales, technologies and institutional settings. A geographical shift – on supra-regional, national and global scale – is observable from at least two perspectives: (1) the development of spatial structural attributes and (2) the relations between cities and urban regions. A combination of attribute based analysis and relational approaches helps to better understand the evolution of the functional urban transformation. How are these constituent parts being interrelated? This special session calls for papers that explore, analyze and visualize the changing patterns of urban hierarchies and flows on different spatial scales. Advanced forms of data collection, theoretical reflections, methodical approaches and techniques of analysis and visualization are welcome: (1) Cross sectional and longitudinal analysis of the geographical shift in the context of digital transformation. (2) The production of knowledge and innovation in a spatial context and its spatial dynamics over time. (3) Methodological approaches to relational data and networks. (4) Theoretical and methodological reflections on the inter-relationship of agglomeration economies, network economies and the concept of proximity in the context of digital and urban transformation.

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SS12. Here, there, everywhere: Employment location in the Digital Economy

Session organiser(s)

Filipa Pajević (McGill University), Richard G. Shearmur (McGill University)

The capabilities afforded by new information and communication technologies (ICTs) are increasing – albeit slowly –both the scope and meaning of remote work as a growing number of professions and work-related tasks can be performed on hand-held devices (Hislop and Axtell 2011; Karlene Cousins and Daniel Robey 2015; Chatterjee, Sarker, and Siponen 2017). At the same time, changes in work culture – both as a cause and as an effect of this ability of workers to perform their jobs from and in-between multiple locations – are raising questions about the future of work in the ‘digital society’ in regard to power relations, corporate organization and individual isolation of the worker (Kesselring 2015; Vilhelmson and Thulin 2016; Richardson 2017).

What is more, remote working is increasingly promoted as the antidote to rising corporate rents, and as a means of attracting talent from distant places. Happiness, fulfilment and an improved work-life balance are listed as top benefits, and workers are encouraged to perform their work from home where they can spend time with their families, or work from cafes, hotel lobbies, holiday homes and airports should they require a change of scenery in order to be more productive (Davis 2002). Not only has remote working become a characteristic of modern society, as predicted by the likes of Daniel Bell, Alvin Toffler and Manuel Castells, but it has also become a lucrative business opportunity: new platforms and travel organizations, such as RemoteYear, are capitalizing on the romanticism associated with remote work, urging millennials to experience the world whilst “championing location-independent productivity”.

Considering the growing number of digital work and digital professions, and – in parallel – the ability of workers to perform their jobs from multiple locations at different times, there is some disconnection between the work of many urban economic geographers (who continue to map out the location of places-of-work or of economic establishments, e.g. Fernandez-Maldonado et al 2013; Brezzi and Veneri 2015) and the growing questions about how and where economic value is created in the city (Shearmur 2018). We invite conceptual and empirical papers that explore the role of place and mobility in the digital economy.

Contact filipa.pajevic@mail.mcgill.ca for more information on this session and to submit your abstract for consideration.

Brezzi, Monica and Paolo Veneri. 2016. "Assessing Polycentric Urban Systems in the OECD: Country, Regional and Metropolitan Perspectives", European Planning Studies, 23.6, 1128-45.
Chatterjee, Sutirtha, Suprateek Sarker, and Mikko Siponen. 2017. “How Do Mobile ICTs Enable Organizational Fluidity: Toward a Theoretical Framework.” Information & Management 54 (1):1–13. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.im.2016.03.007.
Davis, Gordon B. 2002. “Anytime/Anyplace Computing and the Future of Knowledge Work.” Communications of the ACM 45 (12):67–73.
Fernandez-Maldonado, Ana-Maria , Arie Romein, Otto Verkoren and Renata Parente Paula Pessoa, 2014, 48.12, "Polycentric Structures in Latin American metropolitan Areas: identifying Employment Sub-centres", 1954-71
Hislop, Donald, and Carolyn Axtell. 2011. “Mobile Phones during Work and Non-Work Time: A Case Study of Mobile, Non-Managerial Workers.” Information and Organization 21 (1):41–56. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.infoandorg.2011.01.001.
Karlene Cousins, and Daniel Robey. 2015. “Managing Work-Life Boundaries with Mobile Technologies: An Interpretive Study of Mobile Work Practices.” Information Technology & People 28 (1):34–71. https://doi.org/10.1108/ITP-08-2013-0155.
Kesselring, Sven. 2015. “Corporate Mobilities Regimes. Mobility, Power and the Socio-Geographical Structurations of Mobile Work.” Mobilities 10 (4):571–91. https://doi.org/10.1080/17450101.2014.887249.
Richardson, Lizzie. 2017. “Sharing as a Postwork Style: Digital Work and the Co-Working Office.” Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society 10 (2):297–310. https://doi.org/10.1093/cjres/rsx002.
Shearmur, Richard. 2018. "The Millenial Space-Economy: Dissolving Workplaces and the De-Localization of Economic Value-creation", in Moos, Markus, Deidre Pfeiffer and Tara Vinodrai (eds), The Millenial City: Trends Implications and Prospects for Urban Planning and Policy, London: Routledge, 65-80.
Vilhelmson, Bertil, and Eva Thulin. 2016. “Who and Where Are the Flexible Workers? Exploring the Current Diffusion of Telework in Sweden.” New Technology, Work and Employment 31 (1):77–96. https://doi.org/10.1111/ntwe.12060.

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SS13. Historical origins and long-term effects of regional development concepts

Session organiser(s)

Martin Åberg & Silke Reeploeg (Karlstad University); Arno van der Zwet (Uni. Of the West of Scotland); Sara Svensson (Central European University); and Marijn Molema (Fryske Akademy/Royal Neth. Academy of Arts & Sciences), ReHi-network

Regional Studies is closely connected to the domain of politics and policymakers and it is therefore no wonder that this multidisciplinary field has been a key source of inspiration for new ideas on regional economic development over the past fifty years. Its conceptual productivity is illustrated by recent debates on, for example, ‘economic clusters’, ‘cohesion’, ‘learning regions’, place-based development and ‘smart industries’. Since most social scientist are forward looking, the practical use of these concepts are often analyzed in a non-historical way. However, it can be revealing to involve the past in Regional Studies, especially when it comes to conceptual debates. On the one hand, the history of ideas helps to embed concepts in a longer scientific tradition, thus strengthening analytical frameworks and providing more empirical evidence. On the other hand, looking backward helps to assess the impact of concepts within regional strategies for economic developments within the deeper current of history rather than the crest of the waves of the present.

This special session welcomes contributions that reflect on the origins and/or effects of specific development concepts. It welcomes papers with a more theoretical or methodological perspective, which reflect on a historical perspective on the evaluation of regional economic policy. For example, contributions could explore the genealogy and/or impact of one specific concept (such as clusters, smart specialization, endogenous growth, multi-level governance etc.). Papers could also reflect on policies in particular regions, and assess the factors that explain its success or failures in the long run. The session is organized by the RSA Research Network on Regional Economic and Policy History, which was constituted in 2016.

The ReHi Research Network has a limited amount of funding available to support presenters’ travel and accommodation costs. For more details on the funding available, please contact the Research Network’s organiser Marijn Molema, at m.molema@fryske-akademy.nl 

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SS14. Polycentric Urban Regions

Session organiser(s)

Ben Derudder (ben.derudder@UGent.be), Michael Hoyler (M.Hoyler@lboro.ac.uk), John Harrison (J.Harrison4@lboro.ac.uk), Evert Meijers (E.J.Meijers@tudelft.nl) and Xingjian Liu (xliu6@hku.hk)

The ‘polycentric urban region’ (PUR) has become a key concept in regional studies, both as an analytical framework to capture empirical realities as well as part of normative visions and goals in regional development policies. In its most basic guise, the PUR notion applies to regions characterised by the presence of multiple, more-or-less proximate urban centres without pronounced hierarchical differentiation between those centres. Given the alleged increased conceptual, empirical and policy relevance of PURs, the Regional Studies Association (RSA) has decided to (co-)fund a research network dedicated to enhancing our understanding of the prevalence, significance, and future development of PURs. To officially launch of this research network, its coordinators will be organizing paper sessions at the 2018 RSA conference in Lugano. The purpose of these sessions is to develop a timely overview of the present state of PUR knowledge in the broadest possible sense, which will in turn inform the key themes that will be tackled in the remainder of the research network’s activities.

The starting point of the research network and the sessions alike is the observation that although the rapid growth in the size and scope of PUR research and policy-making has clearly invigorated this research field, it is in practice built on surprisingly limited comprehensive concepts and evidence. For example, the slightly different terminology used to address PURs points to a broad range of analytical differences across the literature. As very different methods, data, measurement frameworks, and interpretations are used as the evidential basis on which concepts and policies are built, there is a need for a more concerted regional studies research agenda. As an inclusive overview of the different perspectives on PURs is the logical first step towards a more concerted regional studies research agenda, we invite all researchers working on PUR-related questions to contribute to these sessions and the research network at large. 

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SS15. The Belt and Road Initiative: from Neoliberal to Inclusive Globalization?

Session organiser(s)

Weidong Liu, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Michael Dunford, Chinese Academy of Sciences

China considers its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a comprehensive approach to Eurasian and global economic, political and cultural integration and development as well as a contribution to the reform of global economic governance. Officially launched in 2013, the BRI was derived from two initiatives proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visits to Central Asia and Southeast Asia respectively. The first initiative was the “Silk Road Economic Belt” to be developed together with Central Asian countries, while the second was building the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road” with ASEAN countries. The past four years have witnessed a considerable expansion of this vision and faster-than-expected progress. The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in Beijing China on May 14-15, 2017 attracted 1,500 participants from more than 130 countries and 70 international organizations, including heads of state heads of 29 countries and the top leaders of 60 international organizations. The project has also seen the establishment of major new financial instruments including the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to fund a wide variety of development projects that will shape regional and urban development.  For these reasons the BRI initiative has stepped into a new historical stage.

There is an increasing international consensus that BRI affords a platform for more and more countries to explore new international economic governance mechanisms and new development paths. In the meantime, neoliberal globalization has arrived at an impasse, some other projects such as the United States Transatlantic and Trans-pacific Free Trade Agreements (TAFTA, TPP) are stalled, and anti-globalization forces have become louder and more powerful since the 2008 global financial crisis, challenging the future of globalization at a world scale.

Against this background, the interest of political elites and scholars in the BRI is increasing. In China it is increasingly seen as a possible alternative and new globalization path leading in the direction of inclusive globalization. It is also presented as a path to a new model of development that is green and sustainable. As a project designed to integrate the Eurasian land mass which brings together three continents and to link it with other parts of the globe, it has major implications for the future development of cities, regions and indeed whole nations, and it is increasingly a focus of research initiatives and research plans.  

The aim of this session is to promote the engagement between studies that have been completed or are under way, to discuss different conceptions of the BRI and the issues it raises and to explore possible research directions including scope for possible collaborative international research. Contributions to this session might deal with but are not confined to the following aspects of the BRI initiative and future globalisation paths:

Economic globalization in historical perspective
Power shifts and macro-Economic Geography
Eurasian integration
Infrastructure, connectivity and regional/urban development
International flows of trade, investment and resources
Green and sustainable development
Economic corridors and regional/urban development
Development finance

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SS16. Exploring the Co-Evolution Between Industries and Institutions from a Multi-Scalar Perspective

Session organiser(s)

Huiwen Gong, Department of Geography, Kiel University, Germany (gong@geographie.uni-kiel.de)
Robert Hassink, Department of Geography, Kiel University, Germany (hassink@geographie.uni-kiel.de)

Over the past decades or so, many economic geographers and regional studies scholars started to notice the power of evolutionary theories in understanding and explaining economic geographical phenomena (Boschma & Frenken, 2018). Co-evolution (Schamp, 2010) is one of the several theoretical concepts used in this evolutionary economic geography, next to path dependence and lock-ins (Martin & Sunley, 2006), related/unrelated variety (Content & Frenken, 2016), and resilience (Gong & Hassink, 2017). Co-evolution can be broadly defined as the development of reciprocal, causal relationships between distinguishable industrial and institutional populations through time, embedded in a multi-scalar context (regional, national, global).

In our view, co-evolution, although less studied than the other evolutionary concepts, bears great potential and relevance in understanding and explaining regional economic evolution for three reasons. First, co-evolution stresses the importance of studying institutions, that is organizations and formal and informal rules, from an evolutionary perspective, which have been threatened to be relegated in the evolutionary economic geography literature (Hassink et al., 2014). Secondly, exploring and understanding co-evolution is a key precondition for achieving the badly needed deep contextualization in economic geography and regional studies (Martin & Sunley, 2015). Finally, co-evolution and the related deep contextualization are essential for being able to develop tailor-made policy recommendations.

In our session, we welcome theoretical or empirical contributions focusing on co-evolution in regional innovation systems, clusters, smart specialization, sustainability transitions, path dependence and path creation, or any other topic related to the co-evolution of industries and institutions. We expect the contributions to deal with one or more of the following three areas. First, the multi-scalar nature of both industries and institutions and how they influence each other, which also includes analyses of tensions, conflicts, complementarities and complexities. Secondly, the nature of changes; although incremental and radical changes might seem to be a dual and exclusive typology of evolutionary possibilities, in reality there are many varieties between these two patterns influenced by different kinds of critical moments and events (Sanz-Ibáñez et al., 2017). How incremental and radical changes impact the co-evolution of industrial and institutional populations need to be further explored. Thirdly, we welcome contributions that carefully and critically analyze the positive and negative, and partially unintended impacts of co-evolution for different individual interest groups.

Based on the presentations, we aim at publishing a special issue in a journal and/or an edited book with a prominent publisher.


Boschma, R., & Frenken, K. (2018). Evolutionary Economic Geography. In: Clark, G., Gertler, M., Feldman, M. P., & Wójcik, D. (eds.) The New Oxford Handbook of Economic Geography. Oxford: Oxford University Press (forthcoming).
Content, J., & Frenken, K. (2016). Related variety and economic development: a literature review. European Planning Studies, 24(12), 2097-2112.
Gong, H., & Hassink, R. (2017). Regional Resilience: the Critique Revisited. In: Williams, N. & Vorley, T. (eds.) Creating Resilient Economies: Entrepreneurship, Growth and Development in Uncertain Times, pp. 206-216. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
Hassink, R., Klaerding, C., & Marques, P. (2014). Advancing evolutionary economic geography by engaged pluralism. Regional Studies, 48(7), 1295-1307.
Martin, R., & Sunley, P. (2006). Path dependence and regional economic evolution. Journal of Economic Geography, 6(4), 395-437.
Martin, R., & Sunley, P. (2015). Towards a developmental turn in evolutionary economic geography? Regional Studies, 49(5), 712-732.
Sanz-Ibáñez C., Wilson J., & Clavé, S. A. (2017). Moments as catalysts for change in the evolutionary paths of tourism destinations. In: Brouder P., Clavé S. A., Gill A., & Ioannides, D. (eds.) Tourism destination evolution, pp. 81-102. London: Routledge. 
Schamp, E. W. (2010). On the notion of co-evolution in economic geography. In: Boschma, R., & Martin, R. (eds.) Handbook of Evolutionary Economic Geography, pp. 431-449. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

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SS17. Strategic Gains from Globalisation: the role of local and regional conditions in the creation and exploitation of competitive advantage

Session organiser(s)

Randolph L Bruno (UCL, UK) and Luisa Gagliardi (UNIGE, Switzerland)

This session aims at exploring the role of local and regional conditions as source of firms’ competitive advantage for both large and small organisations operating internationally. It welcomes contributions at the intersection between the existing research in economic geography and international business, which investigates how the local and regional levels serve as a basis for competitive advantage for Trans-National firms (TNC), and that in strategic management focuses on corporate internationalisation strategies as a driver of firm’s competitiveness. Broadly speaking the session will cover the following areas: perspectives on strategic management in the international business arena; the interface between the firm's internal and external environments; regional/local markets selection; investment strategies; mergers and acquisitions and alliance as modes of entry; international entrepreneurship; determinants of TNC activity; impact of multi-domestic, regional and global integration strategies. Both empirically as well as theoretically informed papers would be considered, however studies containing quantitative empirical analyses will be given priority.

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SS18. Digital Technology and Regional Policies

Session organiser(s)

Calvin Jones, Max Munday, Dylan Henderson

Regions, firms and individuals are experiencing the consequences of the rapid digitalisation of the economy and society. This transition is characterised by the deployment of digital networks and adoption of digital technologies such as smart phones, cloud computing, artificial intelligence etc. Yet while the contours of these trends have begun to be explored by economic geographers, the spatial implications of digitalisation remain contested. This is reflected in tension between the enabling role of digital technologies for peripheral regions to engage in the global economy, and the tendency for digital infrastructure to be ‘thickest’ in core, metropolitan areas.

National and regional policy makers have been active in facilitating the growth of digitalisation, and mitigating potential negative impacts. This has seen support for the roll-out of broadband, entrepreneurship and innovation in the digital sector, and take-up and use of digital technologies by firms in the wider economy. In many regions these policies reflect complex multi-level dynamics, and are informed by a shared narrative of ensuring communities and regions are connected to the global economy.

This Session invites contributions digital technologies, impacts and regional policies responses, including (but limited to):

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SS19. Entrepreneurship in the periphery: State-of-the-art and new research avenues for regional studies

Session organiser(s)

Birgit Leick, Østfold University College,
Faculty of Business, Languages, and Social Sciences,
e-mail: birgit.leick@hiof.no

Heike Mayer, University of Bern,
Institute of Geography, Department of Economic Geography,
e-mail: heike.mayer@giub.unibe.ch

This special session is devoted to the wider field of entrepreneurship and regional development with a special focus on the development of peripheral regions and the role of entrepreneurs. We wish to invite contributions that address the state-of-the-art on entrepreneurship in those regions that are considered as being “peripheral” in a spatial and aspatial sense (e.g., remote rural, mountainous, and isolated border regions, etc.) as well as entrepreneurship and regional development, notably for such regions. In addition, the session wants to raise emerging issues such as peripheral entrepreneurship from a historical perspective, entrepreneurship and regional identity, entrepreneurship and ageing, the social contributions of entrepreneurs in peripheral regions, and digitalization and entrepreneurship in peripheral regions. We target the following topics, but also welcome contributions beyond this list:

Peripheral entrepreneurship – State-of-the-art: What do we know about peripheral entrepreneurs from a regional development perspective outside the group of developing countries (for example, in Europe’s peripheral regions)? How is peripheral entrepreneurship connected to technology, knowledge and innovation? What is the role of regional policy in the context of European peripheral entrepreneurship?

Entrepreneurs and ageing: Which challenges do local entrepreneurs face in demographically ageing regions? Is there an emerging demand for new products and services? How do entrepreneurs contribute to innovation associated with demographic ageing? What opportunities does the so-called silver economy offer for entrepreneurs in peripheral regions?

Entrepreneurship, regional identity and development: Can peripheral entrepreneurship in Europe be explained by cultural and social behaviour such as regional identity? And, if so, how does regional identity influence entrepreneurs in their local socio-cultural context, or vice-versa?

Regional entrepreneurship from a historical perspective: What does history tell about entrepreneurs in the peripheral regions, and what can we learn from history about peripheral entrepreneurship?

Peripheral entrepreneurs and digitalization: What are the pros and cons of digitalization for entrepreneurs in peripheral regions? How are they affected by the digital divide, and inhowfar do they manage to overcome it? In what ways do scholars have to think beyond digital infrastructure and include considerations regarding digital inequalities when it comes to entrepreneurship in peripheral regions?

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SS20. Urban and regional development between de-industrialisation and re-industrialisation

Session organiser(s)

dr. Jani Kozina (jani.kozina@zrc-sazu.si), Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Anton Melik Geographical Institute

dr. Andreea-Loreta Cercleux (loretacepoiu@yahoo.com), University of Bucharest, Faculty of Geography and Interdisciplinary Center for Advanced Research on Territorial Dynamics

Many cities and regions in the main capitalist countries went through a period of de-industrialization as jobs dispersed to low-wage regions and countries from the 1970s. In many cases, it was followed by severe crisis conditions in the core. After a transitional period of slow growth, large cities in the core again experienced a strong resurgence. Cities and regions now found themselves at the focal point of a new ‘post-Fordist’ economy, characterised by a decisive shift away from materials-intensive manufacturing to various kinds of high-technology, management, logistical, service, design and cultural sectors (Scott and Storper 2014). More recently, a number of cities in former ‘third-world’ countries (especially very large Chinese cities such as Hong Kong, Shanghai, and others such as Mexico City or Sao Paolo) are also beginning to shed manufacturing jobs and to participate actively in the new post-Fordist economy. Although the Post-industrialism as a concept is highly Western-centric, it has already been exported to the mega-cities of the Global South. On the other hand, a recent ESPON study on small and medium sized towns in Europe (TOWN 2014) recognized that 29% of sampled smaller urban areas still hold their predominant industrial profile. Yet it is hard to find recent research and policies that would acknowledge this neo-industrial reality of European small towns and cities, let alone to recognise it as an asset or opportunity for new urban and regional (re)development.

Papers addressing the following questions are welcome:

Can we still trace ‘vertical and horizontal disintegration of production’ within different subsystems of the Global North and South (e.g. from capital cities to second/third-tire cities within national/regional economies, from big to small and medium-sized towns)?
Since it seems that the world produces no fewer goods, where has all the manufacturing gone? Are we facing in these terms a global multi-level core-periphery divide?
Do the (neo)industrial cities and regions possess any differences in ideas, interests and politics in comparison to their predominantly expanded successor the ‘capitalist city’? If yes, what are the spatial, social and economic implications?
Are (neo)industrial cities and regions more resilient due to their industrial heritage and experience (unionized work, solidarity, 8-h work time, social security, etc.)? Are these values from industrial society still alive or can we talk about the ‘forgotten heritage/past of industrial city’?

These are just some examples of the questions that could be addressed in this session. Any other papers addressing industrial notions of urban and regional development are also welcome. Please submit proposals for papers in the form of a 250-word abstract (text only) through the RSA conference portal by Friday 23rd February 2018. Proposals will be considered by the Conference Programme Committee against the criteria of originality, interest and subject balance.

The session is organised in the scope of the BRIGHT FUTURE project (funded by the JPI Urban Europe programme). The project wishes to open the dialogue on the role of industry, particularly in smaller traditional industrial towns across Europe. We wish to create new developmental paradigms better suited to the industrial reality of our towns and draw on their specific territorial capital and potentials.

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SS22. Urbanisation and Disaster Resilience in the South Pacific: Filling Information Gaps

Session organiser(s)

Jennifer Day

We will use this special session to promote our new RSA-funded initiative, the Regional Studies Association Research Network on Academic-Practitioner Collaboration for Urban Shelter, South Pacific (APCUS-SP).  We intend that this special session will lead to a special issue of Regional Studies. 

The goal of our network is to develop an effective and fast mechanism to bridge the practice-research divide in emergency response and recovery – to transfer knowledge between academic experts and governments, humanitarian emergency responders and recovery personnel. Linking academics and emergency/ recovery workers is vital because the groups hold different bodies of knowledge that are rarely shared during emergencies and recoveries – to the detriment of communities. In our experience, when this knowledge is shared, we can prevent unnecessary suffering for affected people and seize opportunities to build back better. Our network focuses particularly on urban shelter – an area of humanitarian response and academic work where there is much to be gained from collaboration. 

I attach an information flyer about the network here.  

.  We are still seeking proposed contributions from current APCUS-SP organisers, and then we plan to open the announcement to general contributions.  That is why we have not yet submitted the proposal.  Here is a description of the agenda for the Special Issue and Special Session:

Special Session/Issue 1 (2018): Urbanisation and Disaster Resilience in the South Pacific: Filling Information Gaps.  Organisers/Editors: Jennifer Day, Maria Kornakova, David Mitchell, and Anita Jowitt

For this special session of the RSA 2018 Annual Conference and special issue of Regional Studies, we seek academic papers on policy and urbanisation issues facing South Pacific countries and people as they respond to natural and human-created disasters and conflicts.  We will accept papers that either highlight information gaps or that showcase and/or analyse responses to information deficiencies.  Issues of focus can be broad and may include displacement and repatriation, migration, conflict, governance, infrastructure, aid, politics, trade, housing, urban planning, economic development, community development, transport, environment, culture, gender, LGBTQI issues, law, and disability.  Papers are also welcomed that also respond to the RSA conference theme (A World of Flows: Labour Mobility, Capital & Knowledge in an Age of Global Reversal & Regional Revival), as long as they are in some way focused on urban disasters in the South Pacific.

Each contributor team is expected to produce both an academic paper and a one-page (double-sided) visual fact sheet about the South Pacific country or city where the work is centred.  If the work is comparative, please produce fact sheets for each setting.  See the sample “Vanuatu Land Law” factsheet as an example.  These factsheets will be compiled into a supplementary Urban Knowledge Toolkit: a set of summaries about the constraints to urban development, governance of land, growth of informality, essential services, land conflict issues and possibilities for resolution, and other critical information that emergency responders need when arriving in an urban area to assist with humanitarian response. 

Critical information:

Abstract submission deadline (RSA conference portal): 23 February 2018
Full Special Issue papers due: 06 July 2018
Peer reviews due: 10 August 2018
Editors’ comments to authors: 31 August 2018
Editors’ introduction due: 28 September 2018
Special issue submitted to RS:  23 November 2018.

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SS23. The development of the Urban National Agendas in Europe. Policy convergence or political contradiction?

Session organiser(s)

Simonetta Armondi simonetta.armondi@polimi.it
Politecnico di Milano

Sonia De Gregorio Hurtado sonia.degregorio@upm.es
Universidad Politécnica de Madrid

The main purpose of this session is the depicting of discontinuities and persistence of the development of the Urban National Agendas in the EU, within the current and wide ‘global reversal and regional revival’. This session critically engage in understanding contemporary public policies and practices at the urban, regional and national scales, in order to advance a contribution to a debate on what significance the Urban Agenda elaboration at the national level, have for theory and practice of social-spatial research in the twenty-first century. This session invites to the submission of papers that explore the attempts to define Urban National Agendas in the European countries, their implications, their contradictions, and contestations. We welcome both theoretical and empirical papers. Consequently, against the backdrop of the development of a National Urban Agenda narrative, topics and empirical cases could include, but are not limited to: new formal regional and metropolitan governments as a solution (or problem); the role of new actors in regional urbanization dynamics; multi-level governance processes; informal assemblages at the metropolitan scale; state rescaling, city-country contradictions; sustainability measures and competitive strategies.

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SS24. Just Transitions for Carbon-Intensive Regions

Session organiser(s)

Leslie Mabon, Robert Gordon University, Scotland (l.j.mabon@rgu.ac.uk)

This session assesses the implications of climate change and sustainability challenges for cities and regions heavily reliant on carbon-intensive industries for an employment and economic base. Cities and regions are increasingly seen as sites for solutions to contemporary environmental issues, as evidenced by the IPCC commissioning a Special Report on Climate Change and Cities, and the creation of Sustainable Development Goal 11 specifically to address sustainable cities and communities. Yet this notion of ‘sustainable’ cities and regions may be problematic for areas that remain dependent on fossil fuel extraction (e.g. coal, oil, and gas) and high-emitting industries (e.g. steelworks and petrochemicals) for not only employment and economic benefit, but also identity and sense of being. Trade unions, national- and regional governments and academics are hence showing increasing interest in understanding what ‘just transitions’ mean at the city and region level. When understood in this way, the aim of a just transition at the regional level is to ensure locations – and the workers within them - traditionally dependent on carbon-intensive activities are not left behind in the move to clean energy and a sustainable economy.

This session contributes to this field by explicitly considering the role of actors at the urban and regional scale in facilitating a just transition. Both empirical and theoretical contributions addressing any aspect of just transitions thinking are welcome. Topics to address may include (but are in no way limited to):

-the relationship between governmental, private sector and civil society organisations in governing a regional just transition;

-the role of urban planning and built environment configuration in enacting a just transition;

-lessons for just transition planning and governance that may be learned from analogous regional changes (e.g. deindustrialisation, coal mining closures);

-the role of more ethically challenging energy-related technologies (e.g. coal seam gasification, shale gas, carbon dioxide capture and storage) in facilitating a gentler transition away from fossil fuels and high-emitting industries;

-pathways to balancing social and economic development goals with climate and sustainability issues for regions involved in extractive activity or high-emission industry in low and middle-income countries.

-the interface between just transitions thinking at a global level, and at an urban and regional level;

The envisaged format will be oral presentation, but with a strong emphasis on facilitated panel- and roundtable discussion. Depending on the nature and volume of contributions, publication of a special issue featuring the presented papers, or production of a co-authored article involving all contributors, will be considered.

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SS25. Flow of financial knowledge and innovations in space

Session organiser(s)

Balázs Forman

Looking at the stages of the development of global financial centers, we see that the first stage was internal capital accumulation, and the second stage was the era of foreign capital involvement. The third stage is determined by market liberalization, the development of information technology and the presence of qualified workforce.
Today, the foundation for corporate competitiveness is based on technological innovations, the creation and implementation of sophisticated strategy and the application of customized financial products.
Today is the question of where this knowledge is available in the geographic area? Who are the holders and intermediaries of this knowledge?
The investigation assumes commercial banks, discount airlines, automakers. A large number of financial and technical innovations are also needed to ensure that macro-energy systems utilizing renewable energy sources receive the same security as the fossil energy-based economy.
Companies and regions are already experiencing competitive disadvantages today, lacking knowledge of advanced business services and innovations.
The cohesion policy of the European Union will have to focus not only on the goals, areas and money weeds, but also through the aid projects.

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SS26. Regional Governance Challenges for the Transition towards Circular Economy

Session organiser(s)

Dr Marcin Dąbrowski (Delft University of Technology, H2020 REPAiR)

Dr Erwin Heurkens (Delft University of Technology, H2020 REPAiR)

Circular economy is an approach to management of resources that shifts away from a linear process - where materials are used to make products that are later then distributed, used, and discarded - towards one that emphasises the need to maintain the value of products, materials and resources for as long as possible, through recycling, reusing, refurbishing. That way, production of waste is minimised, materials circulate in ‘closed loops’ and waste is not considered a burden but rather a resource that brings new economic opportunities, while generating positive externalities for the environment, spatial development or the quality of life.

Circular economy has recently become a new ‘buzzword’ and has been picked up by governments across the world as a solution to reduce carbon emissions and promote the shift towards a more sustainable development. Transition towards circular economy concerns a range of policy areas, from waste management, mobility, land use, to agriculture and waste management, thus calling for cross-sectoral cooperation; and requires working across geographical scales and levels of government, as the flows of materials are seldom contained within the borders of a municipality and strategies, policies and platforms are needed to explore and connect them in new ways. In other words, making circular economy requires working across sectoral, scalar, and administrative boundaries.

These complex interdependencies make integrating circular economy principles into regional spatial development challenging. The exact nature of that challenge depends on the regional geographic, environmental, technological, economic and institutional characteristics. Particularly, the transition towards circular economy raises questions about the suitable spatial scale of implementation, the ways to deal with limited awareness of this concept and the uncertainty about how it could be promoted through successful business cases, the possible governance models to facilitate the interactions needed, the integration of various circular flows, and numerous legal, regulatory, institutional and behavioural challenges.

This session draws on the empirical findings from the REPAiR research project (funded by Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 688920), focusing on regional strategies and solutions for using waste as a resource, while opening up the debate on this issue and inviting papers that explore the governance aspects of transition to circular economy across different regional contexts. 

The objectives of this special session are to:

We encourage and welcome insights from a variety of related academic fields and studies such as (territorial) governance, spatial planning, transition management, public policy, industrial ecology, sustainability studies, regional studies, and real estate management, amongst others.

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SS27. New urban metabolisms: projects, processes and reading keys for territorial food systems.

Session organiser(s)

Catherine Dezio, M.Arch Ph.D – Research Fellow of Politecnico di Milano

The historic theoretical and practical paradigm of urban metabolism has to do with the comparison of the urban phenomenon with the concept of a living organism, that underlines the close link between urban form and social organization, economic processes and environmental resources.

The metaphor of metabolism allows us to comprehend, read and govern the complex and dynamic photography of the different variables of the urban food system, both from quantitative than qualitative point of view, but above all in a holistic and systemic way.

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SS28. Fostering regional development via ‘Industrial Culture’? Concepts, discourses, utilisations

Session organiser(s)

Jörn Harfst and Wolfgang Fischer (Department of Geography and Regional Science, University of Graz, Austria)

In the frame of major societal and economic changes, Europe’s industrial societies have seen a transformation towards networked information societies that are increasingly based on knowledge-intensive services and creative industries. These trends affect territories in very different and uneven ways: Especially (former) industrialised regions outside agglomeration areas, once leaders of technological innovation and knowledge, now often face difficulties in attracting the knowledge economy in the same way as larger cities (e.g. ‘brain drain’).

In this context this session will discuss the relevance of ‘Industrial Culture’ in regional development. The term has no coherent definition, but can be counted among the intrinsic, territorial potentials of place (e.g. Damsgaard et. al, 2009.). It is often being narrowed down to industrial heritage, i.e. the physical remains of former industrial sites and their preservation or re-utilisation. While this is indeed an important utilisation of the industrial past, previous research has highlighted already other aspects, such as intangible elements of the industrial past, focussing on skills, traditions and specific mind-sets and know-how (Harfst and Wirth 2014; Harfst et al. 2016). Thereby the term ‘Industrial Culture’ addresses place-bound aspects of long-term industrial production, as its whole ‘milieu’ of social and physical remains (Byrne 2002). In a link to regional development Eaton (2016) states that Industrial Culture refers also to the reservoir of cultural meaning and practices actors construct around existing local development, ‘and then draw upon in response to proposed future development’. Recent research also highlights the potential of strengthening regional identity, improving regional company and labour force commitment and fostering creativity and innovation - addressing core needs of old industrialised regions across Europe (Wust et al. 2017).

With Industrial Culture being a cross-disciplinary concept, it has linkages to various existing European policies initiatives and strategies, such as on Cultural Heritage being an important driver of regional change (e.g. European Parliament DG IP 2013); the ‘Re-industrialisation of Europe’ initiative (e.g. Competitiveness Report 2013) or the European Territorial Agenda 2020 (EU Ministers of Spatial Planning and Territorial Development 2011). Additionally, social aspect of Industrial Culture addresses directly the quadruple-helix structure of the EU strategy on ‘Smart Specialisation’.

For this session we invite contributions that discuss and broaden the theoretical framework of Industrial Culture (also from different academic angles), as well as case-study related examples of its utilisations, discussing possibilities and limits of the approach. Special focus is given to (post-) industrial regions marked by predominantly peripheral, small and medium-sized town settings.

The session is linked to the accompanying research of EU’s Central European INTERREG project InduCult2.0 funded by ERDF (www.inducult.eu).


Byrne, D. 2002. ‘Industrial Culture in a Post-Industrial World: The Case of the North East of England’. City 6 (3): 279–289.
Damsgaard, O.; Lindqvist, M.; Roto, J.; Sterling, J. (2009): Territorial Potentials in the European Union. Stockholm. Nordregio Working Paper 2009: 6.
Eaton, W. M. (2016): What's the problem? How ‘industrial culture’ shapes community responses toproposed bioenergy development in northern Michigan, USA.  Journal of Rural Studies 45: 76-87.
Harfst, J., Pizzera, J., Simic, D. (2016): ‘Industrial heritage, cultural resources of current industriesand creative pioneers – utilizing Industrial Culture in Central Europe’.  Revija za geografijo, 11-2/2016, University of Maribor: Maribor. Accessible via www.researchgate.net/publication/318506365_Industrial_heritage_cultural_resources_of_current_industries_and_creative_pioneers_-_utilizing_Industrial_Culture_in_Central_Europe
Harfst, J., and Wirth, P. (2014): ‘Zur Bedeutung endogener Potenziale in klein- und mittelstädtischgeprägten Regionen – Überlegungen vor dem Hintergrund der Territorialen Agenda 2020’. Raumforschung und Raumordnung 72 (6): 463–75.
Wust, A., Lang, T.; Hauenstein, S. (2017): ‘Strategic potential of Industrial Culture in Regional Development‘. InduCult2.0 Working paper. Accessible via www.researchgate.net/publication/319153960_STRATEGIC_POTENTIAL_OF_INDUSTRIAL_CULTURE_FOR_REGIONAL_DEVELOPMENT

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SS29. Acting or re-acting? The role for regions in the asylum governance.

Session organiser(s)

Dr. Jeroen Doomernik, University of Amsterdam

Dr. Verena Wisthaler, EURAC Research and Swiss Forum for Migration and Population Studies, University of Neuchâtel

Following the summer of 2015, migratory movements towards and within the European Union increased substantially. As a consequence, actors involved in the reception and accommodation of asylum seekers and refugees multiplied and spread over different governmental levels, from the European Union to municipalities, and from state institutions to NGOs, religious organisations and activist groups. This session takes a closer look at the intermediate level of government and asks what role regions play in the current governance of asylum.

While the European Union’s efforts to find a fair and equal distribution of asylum seekers between member states still wait for a proper implementation, national distribution systems pass the burden of accommodating and integrating asylum seekers to regions and municipalities. But are regions and municipalities merely implementing national targets and strategies or are they actively shaping the accommodation and integration of asylum seekers? Are regions emerging as self-determined actors, or are they just another step in passing the burden down to localities and NGOs and volunteer organisations?

Insights from this panel contribute to the broader literature theorizing regional immigrant integration, and to answering the emerging question of whether there is a particular regional response to the asylum governance To this end, the panel aims at bringing together empirical and theoretical contributions from multiple disciplinary backgrounds, in particular law, political and social science, economy and geography.

We seek single case studies as well as comparative contributions, which evaluate regional accommodation and integration practices, identify relevant actors that shape regional responses, assess the emerging framework of collaboration between actors, situated at different governmental levels, or cross-cutting different governmental levels. We are also very interested in papers that appraise the perspective of migrants and their reactions and experiences with regional responses to the asylum governance.

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SS30. A world of consumption flows and internationalized culture: Implications for regional development

Session organiser(s)

Dr. Delphine Guex, Prof. Heike Mayer

Ten years ago, Markusen (2007) showed the importance of the consumption base for the development of rural regions in the US. In Europe and especially in France, several researchers have been investigating this issue, not only for rural regions (Davezies, 2009; Davezies & Talandier, 2014; Segessemann & Crevoisier, 2015; Talandier, 2016). Indeed, besides to the flows of capital, knowledge and workers, consumption flows have encountered increasing attention since the beginning of the 21th century. Select data seems to give us some ideas as to why this is the case: tourism for example represents 7% of world’s exports in 2016 (UNWTO, 2016). In addition to tourists, the growing population of mobile consumers such as students, retired people, commuters and others increasingly influence not only the repartition of growth, but also the structures and the innovative capacity of regions.

Many regions nowadays host a wide range of economic activities, no longer depending on the use and functionality of products and services. The concept of the “experience economy” highlights those changes and the geographical impacts of such an economy has been theorized (Lorentzen, Schrøder, & Topsø Larsen, 2015; Lorentzen, 2009). Recently, in France, Boltanski & Esquerre (2015, 2017) explained the increasing disparities between regions with the rise of the “economy of enrichment”, which is close to the experience economy by being defined in opposition to the industrialized economy. Next to the importance of tourism, the economy of enrichment is characterized by the importance of culture and heritage. For Boltanski & Esquerre, narrative presentation of products “enhance” them. This process, rather than the addition of new functionalities and performance that were typical of the industrial economy, seems to be at the core of the renewal of capitalism. 

From a territorial point of view, both of these changes (mobility of consumers and the importance of culture in value creation) have major consequences in the development processes particularly in terms of revenue flows and in terms of specificity creation. Following Boltanski and Esquerre, the latter is becoming the main resource for innovation and endogenous development. This session will discuss both of these aspects:

The empirical assessment of consumption flows on regional development: We invite papers that that present insights into these processes for different countries concerning the so-called “residential” and “presential” economy.
The theoretical assessment of consumption flows and innovation models: What can we say about local innovation capacities in relation to consumer mobility? Indeed, economic activities induced by the mobility of consumers are not the same as the ones resulting from the mobility of goods. We invite contributeions that theorize endogenous development in such a context and that consider forms of local organization, which are probably different from the ones focused on innovation aimed at regional competitiveness/industrial development.


Boltanski, L., & Esquerre, A. (2015). Grappling with the Economy of Enrichment. Valuation Studies, 3(1), 75‑83.
Boltanski, L., & Esquerre, A. (2017). Enrichissement: une critique de la marchandise. Paris: Gallimard.
Davezies, L. (2009). L’économie locale «résidentielle». Géographie, économie, société, 11(1), 47‑53.
Davezies, L., & Talandier, M. (2014). L’émergence de systèmes productivo-résidentiels (Vol. 19). Paris: La documentation française.
Lorentzen, A. (2009). Cities in the experience economy. European Planning Studies, 17(6), 829‑845.
Lorentzen, A., Schrøder, L., & Topsø Larsen, K. (Éd.). (2015). Spatial Dynamics in the Experience Economy. London: Routledge.
Markusen, A. (2007). A consumption base theory of development: An application to the rural cultural economy. Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, 36(1), 9‑23.
Segessemann, A., & Crevoisier, O. (2015). Beyond Economic Base Theory: The Role of the Residential Economy in Attracting Income to Swiss Regions. Regional Studies, 1‑16. https://doi.org/10.1080/00343404.2015.1018882
Talandier, M. (2016). Mutations des systèmes territoriaux. Vers un modèle résidentialo-productif. Université Grenoble Alpes, Grenoble.
UNWTO. (2016). Tourism Highlights: 2016 Edition. Madison: UNWTO.

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SS31. The impact of technological change on regional innovation dynamics and governance structures

Session organiser(s)

Marco Bellandi, University of Florence;
Igor Calzada, University of Oxford, University of Strathclyde and Vrije Universiteit Brussel;
Lisa De Propris, University of Birmingham;
Erica Santini, Fondazione per la Ricerca e l’Innovazione and Université de Neuchatel;
Ivan Ureta, University of Applied Sciences of Southern Switzerland and IE University;
Claudia Vecciolini, University of Birmingham. 

The introduction of new technologies is changing the organisation of production and reshaping the global production landscape with significant implications for the innovation dynamics and the governance structures in places, regions and countries. Such new technologies could open opportunities for the existing sectors to be upgraded as well as for new sectors to be created. Regional economic systems would change accordingly, especially with regard to their sectoral composition and their institutional configuration.

Technological change might trigger a re-composition of competences and changes in the knowledge bases, affecting the emergence of agglomeration economies. The adoption of new technologies can also determine the reconfiguration of the multi-level governance framework in these systems, for example re-scaling nation-states with an increasing demand of self-government and devolution schemes. Such changes can lead to the decline of local production systems or to transformative paths, influencing widely the economic and social life of regions.

Not only do the new technologies determine structural changes within the local and regional economic systems, but they may also affect the configuration of extra-local linkages between the system’s agents (e.g. firms, institutions) and the external environment. This is particularly important since sectors and firms are increasingly connected globally via global value chains often underpinning local knowledge exchanges and innovation.

In relation to the structural changes mentioned above, multi-level governance structures are involved to support local and regional innovation, triggering new development paths for regional economic systems (see, for instance, the case of smart city strategies in Europe, technological districts in Italy, poles de competitivité in France and skills centres in Germany).

This special section welcomes papers that explore how technological change is impacting on local and regional innovation dynamics, considering various territorial and organizational levels, such as cities, business clusters and industrial districts, regional and national platforms for innovation and technological upgrading, etc. The proposed session will collect contributions analysing diverse trajectories of technological change and regional development.  

We would welcome theoretical and empirical papers contributing to such issues from different perspectives and focusing on – but not exclusively – the following themes:

Knowledge flows and technological upgrading in local and regional innovation dynamics;
Reconfiguration of local and global value chains, as a result of the introduction of new technologies;
Impact of technological change on regional variety and disparities, related to both the social and the economic sphere;
Emergence of technological disparities across regions and impact on the configuration of knowledge networks and governance structures;
Impact of new technologies on the knowledge structure of local and regional systems and on their development paths;
Role of multi-level governance structures and their policy actions in support of local and regional development.

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SS32. Financial Instruments, EU Cohesion policy and regional development

Session organiser(s)

Fiona Wishlade and Rona Michie, European Policies Research Centre, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. Fiona.wishlade@strath.ac.uk rona.michie@strath.ac.uk

Recent European Commission rhetoric has emphasised the role that so-called financial instruments (FIs) can play in the implementation of EU Cohesion policy. FIs have been lauded for their potential to improve the quality, sustainability and efficiency of European Structural and Investment Fund implementation. To what extent do these claims hold? Do purely domestic FIs have any lessons to offer Cohesion policy? What is the spatial dimension to financial instruments and what role can they play in reducing regional disparities? What are the limits to the role of FIs in delivering public policy?

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SS33. The governance of regional development: how regional development strategies are formulated and implemented

Session organiser(s)

Yasmine Willi, Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL

The aim of this session is to discuss the barriers and success factors of designing and implementing regional development strategies. Such strategies are increasingly designed by agencies for regional development to purposefully coordinate and promote development of regions. In general, these agencies feature typical governance characteristics, as they are weakly institutionalized, politically not legitimatized and spread beyond administrative-political boundaries. They mobilize and coordinate a range of diverse actors, representing different political levels, economic sectors and social issues.

The session uses the concept of regional governance to analyze how regional development strategies are designed and implemented. It further covers a broad range of topics such as participation and inclusion/exclusion in public decision-making processes, democratic planning and the role of policy entrepreneurs. This session welcomes presenters to share their thoughts and findings on the coordination of regional development processes, specifically on the design and implementation of regional development strategies.

Questions to discuss are:

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SS34. The Dynamics of Entrepreneurial Ecosystems

Session organiser(s)

Marcus Dejardin, University of Namur & Université Catholique de Louvain

Michael Fritsch, Friedrich Schiller University Jena

Michael Wyrwich, Friedrich Schiller University Jena

The “entrepreneurial ecosystem” concept refers to “a set of interdependent actors and factors coordinated in such a way that they enable productive entrepreneurship within a particular territory” (Stam and Spigel, 2018, p. 407). A point of attention is that the entrepreneurial ecosystem approach, when it comes to application and measurement attempt, distinguishes traditional statistical measures of entrepreneurship, i.e. self-employment, SMEs, GEM’s TEA, from measures focusing on ambitious, innovative and growth-oriented entrepreneurship (Stam and Spigel, 2016; Hermans et al., 2015). The actors of an entrepreneurial ecosystem are numerous and from various origins, as are the factors contributing to its performance, e.g. formal and informal institutional factors, territorial dotation, specific built assets, human and social capitals, R&D and new knowledge, absorptive capacity, entrepreneurial financing, spatial organization of activities, networking, connectivity,..

The entrepreneurial ecosystem concept may appear as a promising concept to assess the systemic capacity of territories to generate ambitious entrepreneurship, with positive impact in terms of prosperity. It is however noteworthy that a lot is to be done to challenge and to develop what still might appear as a loose concept. The territorial scale is a matter of concern. Has the focus to be put on the local, the regional/infranational level, or the country level? Can we consider the entrepreneurial ecosystem being a trundle (or Russian doll) concept? But then, what are the most salient relations between the lower and upper-levels? Moreover, what do we know about the dynamics of the entrepreneurial ecosystem? Here, some contributions located in regional economics (Feldman et al., 2005) or some expert attempts (Venkataraman, 2004) could be useful or appealing, but we need to bridge more closely those contributions with the current knowledge and research agenda in entrepreneurship (Dejardin and Fritsch, 2011).

The special session that we propose to set up, entitled “The Dynamics of Entrepreneurial Ecosystems”, welcomes both qualitative and quantitative, theoretical and methodological contributions directly or indirectly linked to (ambitious) entrepreneurship and its territorial context with a focus on the dynamic interrelationships between the two.


Dejardin, M. & Fritsch, M. (2011). Entrepreneurial dynamics and regional growth. Small Business Economics, 36, 4, 377-382.
Feldman, M., Francis, J. & Bercovitz, J. (2005). Creating a cluster while building a firm: entrepreneurs and the formation of industrial clusters. Regional Studies, 39, 1, 129-141.
Hermans, J., Vanderstraeten, J., van Witteloostuijn, A., Dejardin, M., Ramdani, D., Stam, E. (2015). Ambitious entrepreneurship: A review of growth aspirations, intentions, and expectations. Advances in Entrepreneurship, Firm Emergence, and Growth, 17, 127-161.
Stam, E., & Spigel, B. (2018). Entrepreneurial Ecosystems. In: Blackburn, R., De Clercq, D., Heinonen, J. & Wang, Z. (Eds), Handbook for Entrepreneurship and Small Business. London: SAGE, 407-422.
Venkataraman, S. (2004). Regional transformation through technological entrepreneurship. Executive forum. Journal of Business Venturing, 19, 153–167.

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SS35. Local autonomy, development and spatial justice

Session organiser(s)

Cyril Blondel and Estelle Evrard, University of Luxembourg

Within the last decades, several reforms (from decentralization to place-base approach) have been implemented in Europe to provide local authorities with increased autonomy (Le Galès, 2003). This return to the local is presented as a potential solution to the actual political legitimacy crisis (development by the local). It is also supposed to produce more accurate and adapted forms of development (development for the local). However, this progressive transfer of political responsibility has rarely been accompanied by an equivalent transfer of financial means (Epstein, 2008). Besides, several works have questioned the capacity of the local to enhance social and spatial justice (between and within territories, between and within social groups) (Gagnon and Jouve, 2007). Two sets of questions are addressed therefore in this session:
- What are the forms of local autonomy and how do they relate to local development? How do local communities and/or local authorities organize themselves to produce local development on formal and informal ways?
- What does this spatially produce? Or to put it differently, to what extent do locally-driven initiatives contribute to produce more spatially just development?
This session welcomes both theoretical and empirical contributions.
It is organized in the framework of the project RELOCAL ‘Resituating the local in cohesion and territorial development’ (EU H2020).

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SS36. Alternative economies and post-growth regional development

Session organiser(s)

Marco Pütz, Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, CH-8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland, marco.puetz@wsl.ch

Cities and regions increasingly question growth as an adequate path to success when facing challenges such as demographic change, environmental degradation, fiscal crises, industrial decline, or shrinkage. Correspondingly, new economic strategies and practices emerge to complement or replace mainstream economic solutions. We refer to these strategies and practices as alternative economies and post-growth (or degrowth) regional development covering a variety of concepts, initiatives and movements, including sharing economy, circular economy, transition towns, regional currencies, regional producer and consumer associations for renewable energies or other resources, ecovillages, zero-emission or zero-carbon cities, local commons, post-consumerism, basic income and volunteer work, to mention just a few. Interestingly, a lot of these new strategies and practices are place-based and driven by local communities. To take stock and further explore the interdisciplinary scholarly debate this session invites papers from practitioners and researchers that address the themes and issues mentioned above. The goal of the session is to highlight the variety and heterogeneity of alternative economic and post-growth strategies and practices in cities and regions. 

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SS37. Transnational/International Entrepreneurship and Global Pipelines

Session organiser(s)

Dr Su-Hyun Berg (Business Consultant, Flensburg, Germany),  Dr Sarika Pruthi (San Jose State University, California, USA), and Prof. Jay Mitra (University of Essex, UK)


The study of transnational entrepreneurs (TEs) has attracted interest from academics, policy-makers and the practitioners, since TEs are acknowledged as an important source of innovation contributing economic development in both host and home countries (Light, 2010; Terjesen and Elam,2009; Patel and Conklin, 2009; Portes et al., 2002; Wagner, Head & Ries, 2002). However, little is known about external knowledge sourcing of TEs; how TEs create, accumulate, agglomerate and circulate new and existing knowledge through extra local linkages.

In this session, we seek to build upon and explore these dynamics of knowledge sourcing of TEs, which not only cross disciplinary boundaries, but have produced a diverse range of investigations into the different modes of knowledge creation and diffusion in both host and home countries. We focus on five key and related themes:

Ontological Freshness: Transnational Ontologies
Flows of Opportunity Development
Fluid Dual and Multiple Habitus
Reforming Institutions; and
Multidimensional Networks.

These themes are outlined below

Theme 1:Transnational and Migrant entrepreneurs –Varying and Mutating Ontologies

Transnational entrepreneurship can be conceptualized in both positivist (a phenomenon) and constructivist (a subjective abstraction) terms. This inherent conceptual duality mirrors the dual habitus presence of TEs. Crucially, it embraces other concepts of ethnicity, race, internationalization, globalization, migration and diasporas to name a few, all of which have merited attention in different studies on entrepreneurship. New research could, therefore, offer rich perspectives to enable a better, nuanced and critical understanding of this relatively less explored subject of our times

Theme 2: Flows of Opportunity Development

Research on migrant entrepreneurs makes clear distinctions between other types of migrant entrepreneurs and transnational entrepreneurs (TEs) that cross host country borders to commercialize a business idea in their home countries (Drori, Honig & Wright, 2009). The phenomenon of transnational entrepreneurship implies a distinct opportunity structure, which enables those migrants who found and maintain businesses to benefit from ‘two worlds’ as a crucial factor for survival, a way of breaking out, and/or a method for providing competitive advantage (Terjesen & Elam, 2009). Apart from enabling a globalization from below in developed host markets (McEwan, Pollard & Henry, 2005), TEs also make available, locally, a wide range of managerial, technical and international marketing skills through their ventures in emerging home markets (Breshnahan, Gambardella & Saxenian, 2001; Parthasarathy & Aoyama, 2006).

Theme 3: Fluid Dual and Multiple Habitus

Transanational Entrepreneurs (TEs) as focal actors in the creation, organization and growth of transnational and international new ventures (Autio, Sapienza & Almeida, 2005; Oviatt & McDougall, 1994). TEs can be envisaged to operate their dual structures between developed economies, between emerging economies, or between developed and emerging economies (Drori et al., 2009; Wright, Pruthi & Lockett, 2005). These different trajectories likely involve different challenges for TEs (Hoskisson et al., 2013; Kiss, Danis & Cavusgil, 2012). Entrepreneurial action of TEs is constrained by their home country endowments due to variations in home country institutional structures (Yeung, 2002, 2009). They also have to cope and adapt to, and form strategies shaped by, institutional constraints, political-economic structures, and dominant organizational and cultural practices in both previous and currently adopted countries in which they operate (Portes, 1995; Saxenian, 1999, 2002, 2005). There is a need to understand how varied institutional contexts and differences, rather than merely their personal attributes and innovative capacities, shape the way they operate. The literature on TEs of ethnic origin in developed markets describes the significance of ‘transnational communities’ for the transfer of knowledge back home. However, not all TEs form transnational ventures (TNVs) from the position of being based in the host country; they can also do so from being based in the home country (Drori et al., 2009) which can then influence or create new forms of cross-border institutional governance.

Theme 4: Reforming Institutions

TEs are not passive adherents to institutional constraints, but actively mould them to suit their own unique initiatives. They leverage opportunities arising from their dual fields and networks, optimizing resources where they may be most effective (Drori et al., 2009). Unlike EEs, TEs go beyond ethnic   ties in venture founding, using class or national resources to expand business contacts beyond their ethnic group (Gold & Light, 2000). TEs open up a new frontier to develop insights on the nature of global and local networks that link individual resources at the micro level with structure at the macro level (Chen & Tan, 2009). As employees of multinational corporations (MNCs), diasporas often encourage their employers to investigate the possibility of investing in the diasporan’s country of origin (Kotabe et al., 2013). TEs’ prior experience of entering the home country with a former employer may impact the nature of social capital in venture founding in the home country (Pruthi & Wright, 2017a). An understanding of TEs’ social and human capital in venture founding opens up the possibility for new insights regarding the behaviour and contribution of migrant entrepreneurs (Yang, Ho & Chang, 2012). An established stream of literature (e.g., Deakins et al., 2007; Light, Rezaei & Dana, 2013; Portes & Zhou, 1992) explores the role of personal or ethnic ties in venture founding by EEs, mainly in their new country of residence. Where entrepreneurs’ connections in both host and home countries are explored, they are mainly in the context of internationalizing EEs that extend their firms to the home country (Chung & Tung, 2013), or REs that draw on their connections abroad to found  new ventures upon returning home (Lewin & Zhong, 2013; Lorenzen & Mudambi, 2013; Nanda & Khanna, 2010; Pruthi, 2014; Wadhwa et al., 2011). In contrast, we know little about the link between migrant entrepreneur’s and TEs’ social and human capital, or how they use social ties to overcome resource constraints in venture founding or institutional reform. As the role of social capital in venture founding is quite diverse among ethnic communities in developed markets, even in the same host country (Nwankwo, Akunuri & Madichie, 2010), entrepreneurs from different ethnic groups need to be systematically studied to understand the nature of their social capital in transnational activities. . Is it possible that flows across borders generate capabilities for reforming existing or creating new institutions that mix spatial perspectives with individual or collective motivation impacting on inter-regional development?

Theme 5: Multidimensional Networks

Compared to other international entrepreneurs, differences in migrant entrepreneurs’ behaviour may stem from their unique social networks, market specific knowledge and experience (Elo & Volovelsky, 2017; Riddle, Hrivnak, & Nielsen, 2010), or even cultural, linguistic and religious features that represent particular resources and competences for internationalization (e.g., Brinkerhoff, 2016). Recent research has explored the role of migrant decision makers in the internationalization of their ventures to their home countries (Chung & Tung, 2013). Studies have also explored the motivations, typology (Drori et al., 2009; Elo, 2016; Portes, Haller, & Guarnizo, 2002) and economic contribution of TEs to their host and home countries (Portes et al., 2002; Wagner, Head & Ries, 2002). However, little is known about networks and capabilities, locational dynamics, mechanisms and processes that migrant entrepreneurs employ in identifying and exploiting opportunities in multiple institutional contexts (Brinkerhoff, 2016; (Elo & Freiling, 2015; Tung, 2008).

Also less understood is the link between the structure of TEs’ social networks and pattern of growth (Pruthi & Wright, 2017a, 2017b). Founded by migrants and continued by their descendants, some family businesses, for example, grow to become leading firms and expand beyond their countries of residence (Discua Cruz, Howorth & Hamilton, 2013). These firms often connect back to their countries of origin from their very outset and involve a collective approach by members of one or several migrant family generations, a process supported by hard to imitate resources nurtured by transnational family networks from various parts of the world over time (Sirmon & Hitt, 2003). While the entrepreneurship literature advocates the role of non-family, weak ties for growth (Jack, 2005), the IE literature suggests that entrepreneurs that first enter their home country to found a TNV are more likely to found ventures that are ‘born global’ (Oviatt & McDougall, 1994, 2005). Therefore, research may examine the performance of TNVs in TEs’ home country, and whether TEs that complement family ties with other ties are more successful than others. Prior research on migrant entrepreneurs has looked at migrants that are either first generation or undifferentiated in their embeddedness in the host country  (Janjuha-Jivraj,  2003).  While first-generation migrants may be embedded in their home country based on strong family connections, second-generation migrants are likely to be more integrated with their host country (Bachkaniwala, et al, 2001). Therefore, a related research question is whether there is a difference in use of social ties and performance of TNVs depending on whether focal actors from family are the first or second-generation migrants.

TNVs offer a fertile opportunity to explore the nature of control and co-ordination outside the context of MNCs (Dabic, González-Loureiro, & Harvey, 2015; Massingham, 2010). Saxenian and Hsu (2001) suggest that the transnational linkages of TEs may supersede conventional international business relationships, and the MNC may no longer be the preferred organizational vehicle for transferring knowledge or personnel across geographic boundaries. Yet, little is known about the organization and co-ordination of transnational activities or performance of their ventures (Discua Cruz & Basco, 2017). It may be interesting to understand the way TEs and their managers apportion responsibilities and build social capital in a situation of commitment to two different work units in host and home countries (Collings, Scullion, & Harvey, 2009; Harvey, Novicevic, & Garrison, 2005).

For this open session We welcome contributions from studies explore the global pipelines (Bathelt et al., 2004) of TEs. Specifically, we invite contributions to theorize how and what kind of extra local linkage is created, through time and space, and/or maintained. In this session, we look forward to diverse and indeed, conflicting or controversial perspectives and a lively debate on the role of institutional contexts, collaborative knowledge creation technology and transformative/alternative practices.


Autio, E., Sapienza, H.J., & Almeida, J.G. (2005). Effects of age at entry, knowledge intensity, and imitability on international growth. Academy of Management Journal, 43(5), 909–924.
Bachkaniwala, D., Wright, M., & Ram, M. (2001). Succession in South Asian family businesses in the UK.
International Small Business Journal, 19(4), 15–27.
Basu, A. (1998). An exploration of entrepreneurial activity among Asian small businesses in Britain. Small Business Economics, 10(4), 313–326.
———. (2011). From ‘break out’ to ‘breakthrough’: Successful market strategies of immigrant entrepreneurs in the UK. International Journal of Entrepreneurship, 15, 1–24.
Breshnahan, T., Gambardella, A., & Saxenian, A.L. (2001). Old economy inputs for new economy outcomes: Cluster formation in the new Silicon Valleys. Industrial and Corporate Change, 10(4), 835–860.
Brinkerhoff, J.M. (2016). Institutional reform and diaspora entrepreneurs: The in-between advantage. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Chen, W., & Tan, J. (2009). Understanding transnational entrepreneurship through a network lens: Theoretical and methodological considerations. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 33(5), 1079–1091.
Chung, H., & Tung, R. (2013). Immigrant social networks and foreign entry: Australia and New Zealand firms in the European Union and Greater China. International Business Review, 22(1), 18–31.
Collings, D.G., Scullion, H., & Dowling, P.J. (2009). Global staffing: A review and thematic research agenda. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 20(6), 1253–1272.
Dabic, M., González-Loureiro, M., & Harvey, M. (2015). Evolving research on expatriates: What is ‘known’ after four decades (1970–2012). The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 26(3), 316–337.
Deakins, D., Ishaq, M., Smallbone, D., Whittam, G., & Wyper, J. (2007). Ethnic minority businesses in Scotland and the role of social capital. International Small Business Journal, 25(3), 307–326.
Discua Cruz, A & Basco, R. (2017). A family perspective on Entrepreneurship, in Turcan R & Fraser, N (eds),
A Handbook of Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Entrepreneurship. Basingstoke, United Kingdom: Palgrave. Discua Cruz, A., Howorth, C., & Hamilton, E. (2013). Intra-family entrepreneurship: The formation and member-ship of family entrepreneurial teams. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 37(1), 17–46.
Drori,  I.,  Honig,  B.,  &  Wright,  M.  (2009).  Transnational  entrepreneurship:  An  emergent  field  of  study.
Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 33(5), 1001–1022.
Elo, M. (2016). Typology of diaspora entrepreneurship: Case studies in Uzbekistan. Journal of International Entrepreneurship, 14(1), 121–155.
Elo, M., & Freiling, J. (2015). Transnational entrepreneurship: An introduction to the volume. American Journal of Entrepreneurship, 8(2).
Elo, M., & Riddle, L. (Eds) (2016). Diaspora Business. Oxford: Interdisciplinary Press.
Elo, M., & Volovelsky, E.K. (2017). Jewish diaspora entrepreneurs-the impact of religion on opportunity exploration and exploitation. International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, 31(2), 244–269.
Filatotchev, I., Liu, X., Buck, T., & Wright, M. (2009). The export orientation and export performance of high- technology SMEs in emerging markets: The effects of knowledge transfer by returnee entrepreneurs. Journal of International Business Studies, 40(6), 1005–1021.
Gold, S.J., & Light, I. (2000). Ethnic economies and social policy. In Research in social movements, conflicts and change (pp. 165–191). Bingley, United Kingdom: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Harvey, M., Novicevic, M.M., & Garrison, G. (2005). Global virtual teams: A human resource capital architecture.
The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 16(9), 1583–1599.
Hoskisson, R., Wright, M., Filatotchev, I., & Peng, M. (2013). Emerging multinationals from mid-range economies: The influence of institutions and factor markets. Journal of Management Studies, 50(7), 1295–1321.
Jack, S. (2005). The role, use and activation of strong and weak network ties: A qualitative analysis. Journal of Management Studies, 42(6), 1234–1259.
Janjuha-Jivraj, S. (2003). The sustainability of social capital within ethnic networks. Journal of Business Ethics, 47(1), 31–43.
Kiss, A.N., Danis, W.M., & Cavusgil, S.T. (2012). International entrepreneurship research in emerging economies: A critical review and research agenda. Journal of Business Venturing, 27(2), 266–290.
Kotabe, M., Riddle, L., Sonderegger, P., & Täube, F. (2013). Diaspora investment and entrepreneurship: The role of people, their movements, and capital in the international economy. Journal of International Management, 19(1), 3–5.
Lewin, A., & Zhong, X. (2013). The evolving diaspora of talent: A perspective on trends and implications for sourc- ing science and engineering work. Journal of International Management, 19(1), 6–13.
Light, I., Rezaei, S., & Dana, L. (2013). Ethnic minority entrepreneurs in the international carpet trade: An empirical study. International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, 18(2), 125.
Lorenzen, M., & Mudambi, R. (2013). Clusters, connectivity and catch-up: Bollywood and Bangalore in the global economy. Journal of Economic Geography, 13(3), 501–534.
Massingham, P. (2010). Managing knowledge transfer between parent country nationals (Australia) and host coun- try nationals (Asia). The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 21(9), 1414–1435.
McEwan, C., Pollard, J., & Henry, N. (2005). The ‘global’ in the city economy: Multicultural economic develop- ment in Birmingham. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 29(4), 916–933.
Nanda, R., & Khanna, T. (2007). Diasporas and domestic entrepreneurs: Evidence from the Indian software industry.
Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, 19(4), 991–1012.
Nwankwo, S., Akunuri, J., & Madichie, N. (2010). Supporting black businesses: Narratives of support providers in London. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, 16(6), 561–580.
Oviatt, B.M., & McDougall, P. (1994). Toward a theory of international new ventures. Journal of International Business Studies, 25(1), 45–64.
Oviatt, B.M., & McDougall, P.P. (2005). Defining international entrepreneurship and modeling economic development in Birmingham. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 29(4), 916–933.
Parthasarathy, B., & Aoyama, Y. (2006). From software services to R&D services: Local entrepreneurship in the software industry in Bangalore, India. Environment and Planning, 38(7), 1269–1285.
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The Economic Sociology of Immigration (pp. 1–41). New York, NY: Russel Sage Foundation.
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Ram, M., & Jones, T. (2008). Ethnic minority businesses in the UK: A review of research and policy developments.
Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, 26(2), 352–374.
Riddle, L., Hrivnak, G.A., & Nielsen, T.M. (2010). Transnational diaspora entrepreneurship in emerging markets: Bridging institutional divides. Journal of International Management, 16(4), 398–411.
Saxenian, A. (2002). Transnational communities and the evolution of global production networks: The cases of Taiwan, China and India. Industry and Innovation, 9(3), 183–202.
Saxenian, A., & Hsu, J.Y. (2001). The Silicon Valley–Hsinchu connection: Technical communities and industrial upgrading. Industrial and Corporate Change, 10(4), 893–920.
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Terjesen, S., & Elam, A. (2009). Transnational entrepreneurs’ venture internationalization strategies: A practice theory approach. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 33(5), 1093–1120.
Tung, R.L. (2008). Brain circulation, diaspora, and international competitiveness. European Management Journal, 26(5), 298–304.
Wadhwa, V., Jain, S., Saxenian, A.L., Gerefti, G., & Wang, H. (2011). The grass is indeed greener in India and China for returnee entrepreneurs: America’s new immigrant entrepreneurs, Part VI. Kauffman: The Foundation for Entrepreneurship.
Wagner, D., Head, K., & Ries, J. (2002). Immigration and the trade of provinces. Scottish Journal of Political Economy, 49(5), 507–525.
Wright, M., Pruthi, S., & Lockett, A. (2005). International venture capital research: From cross-country comparisons to crossing borders. International Journal of Management Reviews, 7(3), 135–165.
Yang, X., Ho, E., & Chang, A. (2012). Integrating the resource-based view and transaction cost economics in immi- grant business performance. Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 29(3), 753–772.
Yeung, H. (2002). Entrepreneurship in international business: An institutional perspective. Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 19(1), 29–61.
Yeung, H. (2009). Transnationalizing entrepreneurship: A critical agenda for economic geography. Progress in Human Geography, 33(2), 210–235.

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SS38. Agency, Institutional Change and Local Economic Development

Session organiser(s)

- Karen Chapple (City and Regional Planning Dept., University of California, Berkeley, US)
- Sergio Montero (CIDER, Universidad de los Andes, Colombia)
- Markku Sotarauta (School of Management, University of Tampere, Finland)
- Elvira Uyarra (Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, University of Manchester, UK)

Local economic development (LED) occurs through formal and informal institutional processes that the quantitative methodologies often used by development economists have a hard time to measure. This is because LED processes are often based on different kind of relationships and the agency of particular people, organizations and even non-human actors such as policy documents, images, videos, “best practices,” etc. As Amin (1999), and more recently Rodríguez-Pose (2013), have argued, most of the literature on institutions and economic development has focused on using quantitative indicators, econometric models and game theory to analyze the role of formal institutions such as the rule of law and property rights, as well as corruption. Less, however, is known about other types of informal institutional processes (Montero & Chapple forthcoming), such as for instance the role of leadership (Sotarauta, Horlings & Liddle 2012), despite their increasing importance for local and regional innovation (Uyarra et al. 2017). Also, where policy is considered, the focus is overwhelmingly normative, about what policies should look like and what solutions and “best practices” work rather than on analyzing in detail the actors behind the emergence, change and continuity (or discontinuity) of the institutional processes that allowed for a policy to have a LED impact.

In this panel, we seek to generate a provocative discussion about the need for new and interdisciplinary theoretical and methodological approaches in regional studies to better capture the explicative potential of agency in institutional changes and local economic development. We find inspiration in recent theoretical and methodological debates in urban studies, economic geography and urban and regional planning about the explanatory potential of the in-depth case study (Flyvbjerg 2006); the “regeneration” of constructivist approaches such as grounded theory (Clarke 2003); the possibilities of multi-sited and global ethnography (Marcus 1995, Tsing 2005); the potential of STS (Farías & Bender 2010) and policy mobilities (Peck & Theodore 2012, McCann & Ward 2012) to analyze cities and regions relationally; as well as calls for renewed methodological strategies to compare cities and regions (Robinson 2016, McFarlane 2010).

Taking seriously this focus on understanding the agency behind local economic development processes implies paying closer attention to the multiple actors, relations and governance dimensions that affect LED processes including, but not limited to:

It also implies researchers with an interest in theorizing contemporary processes of local economic development beyond the particularities of their case studies.


Amin, A. (1999). An institutionalist perspective on regional economic development. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 23(2), 365-378.
Chapple, K., & Montero, S. (2016). From learning to fragile governance: Regional economic development in rural Peru. Journal of Rural Studies, 44, 143-152.
Clarke, A. E. (2003). Situational analyses: Grounded theory mapping after the postmodern turn. Symbolic Interaction, 26(4), 553–576.
Farias, I., & Bender, T. (Eds.). (2010). Urban assemblages: How actor-network theory changes urban studies. London: Routledge.
Flyvbjerg, B. (2006) Five Misunderstandings About Case-Study Research, Qualitative Inquiry, vol. 12, no. 2, April, 219-245.
Marcus, G. E. (1995) Ethnography in/of the world system: the emergence of multi-sited ethnography. Annual Review of Anthropology 24, 95–117.
McCann, E., & Ward, K. (2012). Assembling urbanism: following policies and studying through 'the sites and situations of policy making. Environment and Planning A, 41: 42-51.
McFarlane, C. (2010). The comparative city: knowledge, learning, urbanism. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 34(4), 725-742.
Montero, S. and K. Chapple. (forthcoming). Fragile Governance and Local Economic Development: Theory and Evidence from Peripheral Regions in Latin America. London: Routledge.
Peck, J., & Theodore, N. (2012). Follow the policy: a distended case approach. Environment and Planning A, 44(1), 21.
Robinson, J. (2011). Cities in a world of cities: the comparative gesture. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 35(1), 1-23.
Rodríguez-Pose, A. (2013). Do institutions matter for regional development? Regional Studies, 47(7), 1034-1047.
Sotarauta, M., & Beer, A. (2017). Governance, agency and place leadership: Lessons from a cross-national analysis. Regional Studies, 51(2), 210-223.
Sotarauta, M., Horlings, I., & Liddle, J. (Eds.). (2012). Leadership and change in sustainable regional development. London: Routledge.
Tsing, A. L. (2005). Friction: An ethnography of global connection. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Uyarra, E., Flanagan, K., Magro, E., Wilson, J. R., & Sotarauta, M. (2017). Understanding regional innovation policy dynamics: Actors, agency and learning. Environment and Planning C, Vol. 34 (4), 559-568.

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SS39. Territorial Cohesion: from Theory to Policies

Session organiser(s)

RSA Cohesion Policy Network

Nicola Francesco Dotti (Université Libre de Bruxelles) Nicola.Dotti@ulb.ac.be (contact person)
Marcin Dąbrowski (TU Delft)
Oto Potluka (Uni Basel)
Eduardo Medeiros and Eduarda Costa (University of Lisbon)
Ida Musialkowska (University of Poznan) 

The concept of ‘territorial cohesion’ is challenging both theoretically for academic research and practically for policymaking. Being included in the EU Treaty since 2009, it was first introduced already in the Second Cohesion Report by 2001. Since then, however, a relatively limited number of studies have shed some light on how to measure and assess territorial cohesion processes, and how to apply this concept to policymaking. Furthermore, there are many definitions and interpretations of the meaning of ‘Territorial Cohesion’ leading to possible theoretical misunderstanding and difficulties in operationalising analysis and evaluation to see if we have been able to achieve it.

EU Cohesion Policy is the main policy tool to achieve Territorial Cohesion goal as expressed in the EU Treaty. As such, there is a constant need to assess the results and impacts of EU Cohesion Policy, not only in promoting economic growth and development processes within the EU and each Member State, but also in achieving Territorial Cohesion goals beyond economic arguments. For that, in turn, there is a need to clarify and better understand the meaning of Territorial Cohesion, which is too often reduced to inter-regional economic convergence, to more holistic and multidisciplinary perspectives.

In the extensive scientific debate, the impacts and effects of the EU Cohesion Policy were largely discussed ranging from positive to very pessimistic conclusions, and from profound to marginal up to no effects for both the whole EU and specific cities and regions. This has open to an interesting debate also on methods to measure and evaluate Territorial Cohesion having the ultimate goal to better design territorial development strategies and policy, which could invert prevailing tendencies to increasing territorial exclusion processes.

Against this background, we consider that there is a need for a wider academic debate on theoretical definitions of Territorial Cohesion, methodological discussions and empirical evidence. This session aims to gather contributions also for the ongoing debate on the post-2020 EU Cohesion Policy which has already started at different policy levels. Therefore, the main aim of this session is to further discuss the Territorial Cohesion concept and its relevance to the design and implementation EU Cohesion Policy post-2020.

We encourage and welcome paper proposals dealing with this topic from a variety of perspectives, such as:

While the call is open to all, we would like to encourage the participation of Early Career Researchers and, in particular, the Alumni of the Masterclass on EU Cohesion Policy organised as part of the annual European Week of Cities and Regions in Brussels.

The session is proposed by the RSA Research Network on EU Cohesion Policy.

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SS40. Evolutionary Approaches to Regional Policy

Session organiser(s)

Nicola Francesco Dotti (ULB/VUBrussels), Dieter Franz Kogler (University College Dublin), Ron Boschma (Utrecht University)

Contact: nicola.dotti@vub.be; dieter.kogler@ucd.ie; ron.boschma@circle.lu.se

In the past years, “Evolutionary Economic Geography” (EEG) is gaining momentum mainly due to its apparent potential to provide insights into the economic resilience of regions facing times of uncertainty and economic crisis (Boschma 2015; Kakderi and Tasopoulou 2017; Sedita et al. 2016). The notion of ‘(un)related variety’ (Frenken et al. 2007) was put forward as an explanatory for regional capacities leading to (mainly technological) innovation as a key factor to explain the regional economic dynamics, competitiveness and resilience. The notion of (un)related variety has become quite popular among researchers, also contributing to animate the policy debate on the EU-led initiative for ‘smart specialisation’ (Foray et al. 2009; Boschma and Gianelle 2013; Capello and Kroll 2016). While un/related variety has been a major ingredient for ‘smart specialisation strategies’, the policy debate has sometimes misunderstood these notions ending up with a dichotomy between specialisation and diversification (see also Dotti and Spithoven 2017). This possible confusion calls for a better understanding of how to develop an evolutionary approach to regional policymaking. In policy studies, the evolutionary approach was built on the same theoretical premises like EEG (Croenewegen and Steen 2007; Dotti 2016; John 2003; Slembeck 1997), but with very limited cross-disciplinary fertilisation between policy studies and the fields of economic geography and innovation studies.

To address this ‘missed opportunity’ and to instil policy-relevance in ongoing efforts to understand the evolutionary trajectories of regional development pathways, we seek papers that focus on the intersection between economic development and policymaking assuming a regional perspective. The goal is to explore the dynamics of regional economies and policy, and how they respond to economic shocks and constant technological change. We imagine regions as a complex assemblage of economic and policy actors and institutions enmeshed in internal and external networks of political and economic relationships that spill across space. Inasmuch, we welcome broad-ranging papers of a theoretical or applied nature that examine the development of regional economies and policy and their evolution in times of crisis, transition, growth and decline. In particular, we are interested in contributions able to combine economic geography, regional studies, policy analysis and multi-scalar and multi-dimensional knowledge dynamics in an evolutionary framework.


Boschma, R. (2015), ‘Towards an Evolutionary Perspective on Regional Resilience’, Regional Studies, 49 (5), 733–51.
Boschma, R. and C. Gianelle (2013), ‘Regional branching and smart specialization policy’, Book, accessed at https://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org/10.2791/65062.
Capello, R. and H. Kroll (2016), ‘From theory to practice in smart specialization strategy: emerging limits and possible future trajectories’, European Planning Studies, 24 (8), 1393–406.
Content, J. and K. Frenken (2016), ‘Related variety and economic development: a literature review’, European Planning Studies, 24 (12), 2097–112.
Croenewegen, J. and M. van der Steen (2007), ‘The Evolutionary Policy Maker’, Journal of Economic Issues, 41 (2), 351–8.
Dotti, N. F. (2016), ‘Abundant water, abundant knowledge: Cognitive patterns for policy changes in Brussels’ water management system’, European Urban and Regional Studies, 0969776416677621.
Dotti, N. F. and A. Spithoven (2017), ‘Economic drivers and specialization patterns in the spatial distribution of Framework Programme’s participation’, Papers in Regional Science, Online first version.
Foray, D., P. A. David and B. Hall (2009), ‘Smart Specialisation - The Concept’, Knowledge Economists Policy Briefs, 9 (June 2009), 1–5.
Frenken, K., F. V. Oort and T. Verburg (2007), ‘Related Variety, Unrelated Variety and Regional Economic Growth’, Regional Studies, 41 (5), 685–97.
John, P. (2003), ‘Is There Life After Policy Streams, Advocacy Coalitions, and Punctuations: Using Evolutionary Theory to Explain Policy Change?’, Policy Studies Journal, 31 (4), 481–98.
Kakderi, C. and A. Tasopoulou (2017), ‘Regional economic resilience: the role of national and regional policies’, European Planning Studies, 0 (0), 1–19.
Sedita, S. R., I. D. Noni and L. Pilotti (2016), ‘Out of the crisis: an empirical investigation of place-specific determinants of economic resilience’, European Planning Studies, 0 (0), 1–26.
Slembeck, T. (1997), ‘The Formation of Economic Policy: A Cognitive-Evolutionary Approach to Policy-Making’, Constitutional Political Economy, 8 (3), 225–54.

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SS41. Working in the Policy World – the mutual challenges and benefits of practical knowledge exchange

Session organiser(s)

Closed Panel Session

Increasingly academics are being asked to develop and demonstrate the policy relevance and the impact of their work as a form of co-production. Letters from policy makers and practitioners are necessary to support grant applications for many funders. Sometimes policy makers are required to be directly involved in the research project, for example by participating in Reference or Advisory Groups and in the dissemination of results. This session will explore some of the practical issues of managing grant applications, project running and end of project activities and reporting. It will also focus on the increasingly central issue of research impact on policy. It will discuss the wider opportunities and challenges for both sides in this critical knowledge exchange by bringing together a high level panel of policy makers, practitioners and academics who are experienced at working in this interface zone. There will be no presentations but all panellists will be asked to consider key issues which will be explored and which will be supplemented by a generously timed interaction with the audience.

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SS42. Integrated approaches to produce, share and visualize regional data

Session organiser(s)

Carlo Lavalle, Mert Kompil, Nicola Pontarollo, Carolina Serpieri
European Commission, Joint Research Centre

Contact Person(s): Mert Kompil and Nicola Pontarollo
mert.kompil@ec.europa.eu and nicola.pontarollo@ec.europa.eu

Today, collection, storage, visualization and analysis of data have become one of the main component of providing scientific evidence for policy-making. Data-driven approaches are crucial to provide necessary information for policy makers to improve well-being of citizens while solving their problems. Changing demographic, socioeconomic and cultural dynamics and their impacts on natural and built environment are uneven across space. Hence, it is precious to have place-based information and to be informed on cities and regions with different development patterns and profiles for a better regional policy.

This special session is willing to reach integrated approaches to produce, share and visualize regional data. It aims to discuss relevant framework conditions for making further progress in dissemination and use of spatial data to inform regional policy. It welcomes any contributions showing original and innovative applications of data use and share for cities and regions; invites research-based data platforms that are fully transparent and open, and designed for aiding regional policy.

Some important questions that this special session would like to address can be listed as following:

If you would like to take part in this special session, please, send us a short abstract of your study. Please, follow RSA conference rules for the format of the abstract.

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SS43. Place Based Industrial Strategies, Smart Specialisation and Lagging Regions

Session organiser(s)

Dr Phil Tomlinson and Dr Felicia Fai (Bath), Dr Carlo Corradini (Aston), Dr Sandrine Labory (Ferrara) and Dr Marichiara Barzotto (Essex). 

This session is based around the funded RSA Expo (1/9/2017-31/3/2019) entitled ‘Smart Specialisation and Industry 4.0: Upgrading Regional Capabilities for a Balanced Industrial Development and Growth Through Networks’.

Smart Specialisation (SS) has been the major component of EU’s 2020 flagship ‘Innovation Union’ programme and wider EU 2014-2020 Cohesion policy (known as RIS3). SS advocates prioritising state support for ‘activities’ at regional level which have the potential for ‘entrepreneurial discovery’ and commercial exploitation. As a ‘place based’ industrial strategy, there has been much rhetorical excitement about the ability of RIS3 to generate an industrial renaissance in mature industrial regions and breathe life into ‘phoenix’ industries. However, the inherent logic of SS can actually extenuate regional imbalances by unduly favouring more dynamic (and leading) regions, where greater entrepreneurial and technological capabilities and good networks already reside, and from which new opportunities are more likely to arise. Indeed, much of the empirical evaluation of RIS3 has so far tended to focus upon its application in more dynamic regional contexts. In contrast, in lagging regions with ‘hollowed out’ manufacturing bases these capabilities are much diminished, which can weaken their ability to participate in (and benefit) from RIS3 initiatives.

In this special session, we invite theoretical and empirical/case study papers that explore how place based industrial strategies, particularly smart specialisation, can be best utilised to re-invigorate lagging regions and facilitate industrial renewal, and in doing so restore regional balance. 

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SS44. Cross-border metropolitan regions – Opportunities and challenges (closed session)

Session organiser(s)

ROREP – Swiss Knowledge Network for Spatial Development and Policy 

Metropolitan regions are generally seen as drivers for territorial development in the national context, as well as drivers for economic, social and cultural development on a European and global scale. They are seen as the nodes in a globalising world of flows. With the liberalisation of the European borders, the development has been dynamic in many border areas, in particular in metropolitan cross-border regions. Many border regions dispose of specific potentials but also specific barriers for a cross-border metropolitan development, for example in terms of infrastructure, labour mobility, governance etc. Against this backdrop, this session pursues two main goals. First, it aims at identifying potentials, opportunities and challenges of cross-border metropolitan regions by comparing three case study regions (Regio Insubrica, Basel area, Vienna-Bratislava). Second – by discussing the findings in a policy panel – it aims at generating evidence on the expectations, aspirations, fears, perspectives and strategies of decision-makers in cross-border metropolitan regions. 

Keynote speakers:

Rico Maggi (speaker requested): Opportunities and challenges of the cross-border metropolitan region of Insubrica  (Ticino-Italy)
Alois Humer (speaker requested): Opportunities and challenges of the cross-border metropolitan region of Vienna-Bratislava (Centrope)
N.N. (speaker in evaluation): Opportunities and challenges of the cross-border metropolitan region of Basel (Switzerland-France-Germany)

Policy panel with keynote speakers and policy makers:

Rico Maggi (panellist requested): Università della Svizzera italiana
Alois Humer (panellist requested): Austrian Academie of Science
N.N. (panellist in evaluation): Researcher of the cross-border metropolitan region of Basel
Fiorenza Ratti (panellist requested): Amministrazione cantonale cantone Ticino
N.N. (panellist in evaluation): policy maker cross-border metropolitan region of Vienna-Bratislava
N.N. (panellist in evaluation): policy maker cross-border metropolitan region of Basel


Stefan Lüthi (confirmed): Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts
Hugues Jeannerat (confirmed): Université de Neuchâtel, Institut de sociologie – GRET

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SS45. Fragmentation vs polarization – searching for a new world order

Session organiser(s)

Pallas Athene Innovation and Geopolitical Foundation, Budapest, Hungary 

21st century brings us to a new geopolitical reality: the unipolar world, created in the last decades, and dominated by the United States on every global level is questioned by different actors. However, since that time new global powers have emerged – or returned to the global politics. Rapidly developing China and India, the ASEAN bloc, Russia, emerging from the ground after the great collapse, and Brazil – all of them would like to get a slice of the cake, would like to get a share from the power games. Most of them question the existing international structures, which are either dominated by the United States, or don’t provide real decision-making power for these new emerging powers.

The session has a strong geopolitical and political geographical focus. It deals with the most pressing global geopolitical issues, such as: can we still speak about a unipolar world? May we see the return of the bipolar world (with new setup), or are we experiencing the creation of a multipolar world? Will the emerging powers accept the existing structures, or is the complete reform of the system inevitable?

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SS46. Post-Industrial Resilience in the U.S. and Europe through a Neo-Institutional Lens (closed session)

Session organiser(s)

Thomas Skuzinski, Virginia Tech 

This session includes theoretical commentary and empirical evidence on how a neo-institutional perspective can inform comparative research among de-industrializing regions within the U.S. and Europe. Scholarship in this panel considers, broadly, how differences in formal rules can influence resilience policies and outcomes, but also how these are shaped by underlying variation in the normative and cultural construction of resilience.



Simin Davoudi, Newcastle University
Alois Humer, Austrian Academy of Sciences
Thomas Skuzinski, Virginia Tech
James Bohland, Virgia Tech
Delphine Guex, University of Bern

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