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2019 RSA Annual Conference Special Sessions

2019 Annual Conference Special Sessions – Pushing Regions beyond their Borders

The organisers encourage joining special sessions, themed workshops and innovative forms of networking and collaboration. As part of the 2019 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 an audience member

‘Re-regionalising Europe’ – Towards a New Territorial Agenda 2020+ (Closed session for submissions but open for everyone to attend)

Session Organiser(s)


Europe today faces multiple, complex challenges putting the achievements of European integration at risk. The, so called, ‘Geographies of EU Discontent’ and uneven territorial development present significant risks of exacerbating disparities and inequalities between places, driving people and Europe apart. Particularly since onset of the financial crisis, a policy focus on high-growth and mostly urban places has resulted in the rise of anti-establishment sentiment in ‘places that don’t matter’ across Europe which rail against the perceived lack of attention, opportunities and resources. At the same time, increasing territorial fragmentation has been accompanied by growing regional interdependences at all scales, resulting in a mismatch between geographical jurisdictions of decision-making and the actual geographies where these decisions will have impacts.

As Europe grapples with these unfolding 21st Century socio-spatial challenges, a renewed focus on a regional agenda is urgently needed for implementing policies that consider the overall territorial dynamics of socioeconomic development and which go beyond simple compensatory measures for the least developed and lagging regions. This will entail place-sensitive policy interventions to address the long-term trajectories of low, no, or negative regional growth which is threatening, not only European integration, but its economic, social and political stability. However, there continues to be only limited visibility of a territorial dimension in policy debates concerning future EU policy and investment priorities.

To change direction, Europe needs a shared normative narrative to guide regional development policy for the decades ahead. ESPON has been to the fore in calling for a renewed Territorial Agenda post-2020 to complement Cohesion Policy and to jointly harness efforts to address these challenges. The ESPON European Territorial Reference Framework (ETRF) project has analysed Europe’s key challenges, developed possible future scenarios and policy pathways. This has precipitated the establishment of the intergovernmental Task Force for the renewal of the Territorial Agenda which is due to be adopted during the German Presidency in 2020.

The purpose of this session is to present findings from findings and policy conclusions from ESPON research on a new Territorial Agenda post-2020 and how to respond to increasing disparities in a world of emerging post-territorialities and the loss of territorial synchrony between the jurisdictions of policy-making and development dynamics.

Moderator: Gavin Daly, ESPON EGTC

    • Oriol Biosca, Mcrit, Spain – Scenario Building Models for Europe Developed in the ESPON Programme
    • Franziska Sielker, University of Cambridge, UK and Benito Giordano, University of Liverpool, UK – Addressing the Opportunities and Challenges of Territories with Geographic Specificities
    • Carsten Schürmann, TCP International GmbH, Germany  – Pushing Regions Beyond their Borders: Potentials for Cross-Border Public Services

Encounters between Border Studies and Regional Studies (Closed session for submissions but open for everyone to attend)

Session Organiser(s)

Association of Borderland Studies (ABS)

Despite some obvious points of convergence between regional studies and border studies, the exchanges and synergies between the two fields remain somewhat limited. One aspect where significant progress could be made relates to the study of the effects of borders on the development of border regions. On the one hand, the analysis of border effects by regional studies and regional science is generally based on the understanding of borders as barriers to interactions, the main objective being the measurement of the extent and persistence of this negative effect and its impact on the development of neighboring areas. On the other hand, border studies and border theory have largely emphasized the multidimensional and ambivalent nature of borders, which can act as barriers or as resources and can therefore have both negative and positive effects for border regions and their inhabitants. Better consideration of the complexity and multifaceted nature of borders in the analysis of their effects could therefore lead to a renewed understanding of the role and significance of borders for the social and economic development of border regions and cities and, more largely, the impact of processes of regional integration. Moreover, in an era marked by security-led rebordering discourses and policies, highlighting the fact that relatively open borders do not necessarily represent threats but may also be opportunities and resources could prove salutary.

Chair: Juan-Manuel Trillo-Santamaría, Department of Geography, University of Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain


  • Anssi Paasi, Department of Geography, University of Oulu, Finland
  • Anne-Laure Amilhat Szary, Department of Urbanism and Alpine Geography (IUGA) / Pacte, CNRS, Université Grenoble Alpes, France
  • Francisco Lara-Valencia, School of Transborder Studies and Southwest Borderland Scholar, Arizona State University, United States / President of the ABS
  • Victor Konrad, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, Carleton University, Canada
  • James Scott, Karelian Institute, University of Eastern Finland
  • Jussi Laine, Karelian Institute, University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu / Vice President of the ABS
  • Christophe Sohn, Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER) Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg / Co-editor in chief of the Journal for Borderland Studies

Have your Say: How do we Enable Best Practice in Place-Based Policy? – RSA Policy Expo: Enabling Best Practice in Place-Based Policy

Session Organiser(s)

  • Andrew Beer, UniSA Business School, Australia
  • Sarah Ayres, University of Bristol, UK
  • Jiri Blazek, Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic

Our workshop needs your input to help us consider the contribution place-based policy makes to the productivity and wellbeing of national, regional and local economies. The growth of place-based policy approaches has the potential to make a significant contribution to communities across a number of policy domains, including the promotion of innovation, the development of local leadership capacities, and in managing significant economic transitions.  But how do we identify the determinants of success in the development and implementation of place-based policies? How do we identify new opportunities for their application? Have your say about how policy makers can better leverage place-based policies to achieve better outcomes across diverse spatial scales.

Authors Meet Readers: Financialising City Statecraft and Infrastructure (Elgar) – Andy Pike, Peter O’Brien, Tom Strickland, Graham Thrower and John Tomaney


  • Andy Pike, CURDS, Newcastle University, UK
  • Sarah Ayres, University of Bristol, UK
  • David Bailey, Aston University, UK
  • Ben Derudder, Ghent University, Belgium
  • Andy Jonas, University of Hull, UK
  • Simona Iammarino, London School of Economics, UK

Infrastructure systems provide the services which we all rely upon to live our day-to-day lives. Through new conceptual work and fresh empirical analysis, this book investigates how financialisation engages with city governance and infrastructure provision, identifying its wider, long-term implications for urban and regional development, politics, and policy.

Proposing a more people-oriented approach to answering the question of ‘what kind of urban infrastructure, and for whom?’, this book addresses the struggles of national and local states to fund, finance and govern urban infrastructure. It develops new insights to explain the socially and spatially uneven mixing of managerial, entrepreneurial and financialised city governance in austerity and limited decentralisation across England. As urban infrastructure fixes for the London global city-region risk undermining national ‘rebalancing’ efforts in the UK, city statecraft in the rest of the country is having uneasily to combine speculation, risk-taking and prospective venturing with co-ordination, planning and regulation.

This panel session aims constructively and critically to explore and discuss the book and its conceptual, theoretical and empirical contributions and ramifications for politics and policy.

SS1. The Social and Spatial Dynamics of Regional Energy Transitions

Session Organiser(s) Camilla Chlebna, Meike Löhr, Jannika Mattes and Sebastian Rohe, University of Oldenburg, Germany

Energy transitions are a complex phenomenon. They require the radical reorganisation of a multitude of actors and their interactions as well as the adaptation and change of seemingly stable institutional arrangements. This process unfolds in co-evolution with the emergence and diffusion of novel technologies.

Social dynamics are fundamental to energy transitions but still only partly understood: How and through which activities do actors influence the transition process, how do they interact with institutions, which networks emerge and to what extent do (pre-existing) institutional frameworks condition the transition dynamics? Which actor groups, constellations and activities drive the change process? What are the essential social mechanisms of energy transitions and how do they change over time?

Such a comprehensive reconfiguration of the socio-technical system occurs nested in a particular spatial logic we suggest considering in more detail. It is widely accepted that small-scale regions and localities do play a decisive role for energy transitions and their decentralised production and consumption logics. This necessitates a multi-scalar perspective which gives way to multiple research questions: How do energy transitions in particular locations relate to each other? How are they part of and influenced by national, European and global processes? How can this multi-scalar view be related to dynamic transition concepts such as the Multi-Level Perspective and Technological Innovation Systems, or to other suitable concepts for describing change dynamics (e.g. Strategic Action Fields, gradual institutional change)?

The session organisers invite contributions that draw on these two core dimensions, the social and/or the spatial, to elucidate regional energy transitions. We welcome both empirical and conceptual papers.

If you are interested in presenting a paper in this session, please submit your abstract of no more than 300 words via the RSA platform by 28th February 2019.

Please do not hesitate to contact Camilla Chlebna ( for more information about this session.

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SS2. Digital Technology: Regions, Business and Policy

Session Organiser(s) Max Munday and Dylan Henderson, Cardiff University, UK

Regions, businesses 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 rapid 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, urban areas.

National and regional policy makers have been active in facilitating the growth of digitalisation, and mitigating potential negative impacts, such as digital divides. 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, related to digital promotion and e-commerce. In many regions these policies reflect complex multi-level dynamics, and are informed by a shared narrative of ensuring communities and regions are not left behind.

This Session invites contributions to literature in digital technologies, impacts and regional policies responses, including (but not limited to):

    • The spatial aspects of broadband roll-out and use in different regions
    • The social and economic impacts of broadband use in less developed regions
    • Differences in the diffusion of digital technologies across regions
    • Regional policies for broadband and digital technology use by SMEs
    • Evolutionary economic geography perspectives arising from digital technologies
    • How digital technology affects firm SME populations, formation and death rates
    • The role of digital technology in SME upgrade and foreign trade

If you are interested in presenting a paper in this session, please submit your abstract of no more than 300 words via the RSA platform by 28th February 2019.

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SS3. Disadvantaged Territories: From Oblivion to Renaissance. Implementing Territorial Strategies and Policies for Sustainable Development

Session Organiser(s)

  • Andrea De Toni, Università degli Studi del Molise, Campobasso, Italy (
  • Joan Noguera, Institute for Local Development, University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain (
  • Paolo Di Martino, Università degli Studi del Molise, Campobasso, Italy (
  • Thomas Dax, Federal Institute for Less-Favoured and Mountainous Areas, Vienna, Austria (
  • Andrew Copus, The James Hutton Institute, Aberdeen, Scotland, United Kingdom (

European and National strategies for regional development, and the associated academic discourse have in the past disproportionately focused on urban areas. More recently, however, both research and policy actors have shown increasing interest in disadvantaged territories (e.g. Cork 2.0 Declaration 2016[1], the World Bank Report 2018[2], EU H2020[3] and ESPON[4] calls, among others). These areas are mostly rural (Intermediate and Predominantly Rural in terms of the OECD classification) and they reveal several criticalities such as demographic decline (Shrinking rural regions[5], Gretter et al. 2017; Perlik et al. 2019), remoteness from centres (Brezzi, Dijkstra, & Ruiz, 2011) and lack of Services of General Interests (Inner Areas, Barca, Casavola, & Lucatelli, 2014), economic decline (Lagging Regions, Brown et al., 2017), natural handicap (Less Favoured areas, Dax, 2014) and social exclusion. In a more comprehensive approach all of these characteristics could be said to be forms of “peripheralization” processes (Inner Peripheries, Copus, Mantino, & Noguera, 2017). Territories affected by such development trends require concepts and policies to overcome these challenges and development limitations in order to engage in resilient pathways in a changing world. Such a shift could be enhanced by European (Cohesion and Rural Development) Policy and National funds support, particularly through place-based strategies fostering the Territorial Capital through e.g. networks building, relational proximity and cooperation development.

This Session encourages contributions aimed to analyse disadvantaged rural territories from a multi-scale, integrated or transboundary perspective, and to discuss their major criticalities and opportunities (e.g. in local development, creativity, innovation and growth, management of natural resources, etc.). This could be supported through the description of implemented or on-going development strategies, policies and territorial projects.


If you are interested in presenting a paper in this session, please submit your abstract of no more than 300 words via the RSA platform by 28th February 2019.

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SS4. Distributive Politics and Regional Development

Session Organiser(s)

  • Xabier Gainza, University of the Basque Country, Spain
  • Felipe Livert, Alberto Hurtado University, Chile

Regional policy has traditionally been concerned with the allocation of public resources in the search for spatial equity or economic efficiency. However, in the recent past a burgeoning literature on distributive politics has documented how politicians use grants and transfers to secure their own electoral aims beyond equity and efficiency considerations. The underlying hypothesis is that politicians are motivated by their desire to retain office; hence, they will distribute public resources bearing in mind their electoral tactic. Some of the strategies displayed include supporting their co-partisan local strongholds, manipulating fiscal variables along the electoral cycle and over financing core or swing areas to back their results in the ballot.

This session welcomes theoretical and empirical contributions that address the effects of distributive politics on regional development. In the end, understanding the sources of arbitrariness in the allocation of resources is a key question for institutional performance, as long as it affects the fiscal capacity of localities and regions to develop their agenda.

Some research questions covered in this session include:

  • How is distributive politics displayed in different social and institutional contexts?
  • Do political machines benefit core or swing constituencies?
  • How are incumbent politicians rewarded in the polls?
  • Does distributive politics benefit the central government or, conversely, is due to subnational governments’ capacity to put pressure on central policymaking?
  • Does decentralization and the local fiscal autonomy reduce the incentives for tactical distributions?
  • What are the territorial impacts? How is the equity/efficiency trade-off affected?
  • What institutional designs and regional policy responses can reduce the margin for electoral arbitrariness?

If you are interested in presenting a paper in this session, please submit your abstract of no more than 300 words via the RSA platform by 28th February 2019.

Please do not hesitate to contact Xabier Gainza ( for more information about this session.

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SS5. Cross-border Regions: Border Effect Impact of Persisting Legal Obstacles

Session Organiser

Ricardo Ferreira, European Commission – Directorate General Regional and Urban Policy, Belgium

Cross-border regions are territories in which the economic and social potential is hampered by the mere existence of a border. In spite of the implementation of the Single Market, in EU internal borders legal and administrative obstacles still prevent these regions from reaching their full potential. In a recent Communication – Boosting Growth and Cohesion in EU Border Regions (Com(2017)534) – the European Commission has highlighted the need to overcome such obstacles: if only 20% of the existing obstacles were removed, border regions would still gain 2% in GDP (…) with potential for over 1 million jobs”

In this Communication the Commission has also stated the need to building evidence of cross-border interaction to inform decision-making: “Collecting data and evidence on border obstacles is the first necessary step towards resolving them but only limited resources are invested in collecting and analysing information on border difficulties and complexities

Such border effect is illustrated in economic literature. However, its causes, implications and the impacts of Cohesion Policy in reducing such negative impact are not so thoroughly discussed. As such, in the framework of the Border Focal Point activities, following upon the Communication, the present session aims at promoting economic debate about cross-border legal and administrative obstacles and their impact on cross-border regions.

In this line, measuring and researching on cross-border interactions becomes also essential. Having a deep understanding of cross-border flows (in all domains) and to what extend these differ from similar flows in non-border regions, becomes essential to overcome the impact of existing obstacles.

The session invites for contributions in this field, namely including (but not limited to):

  • Identification of cross-border legal and administrative obstacles;
  • Quantification of obstacles’ impact on economic and social development of cross-border regions;
  • Modelling and estimating cross-border flows and assessing how they are hampered by the border;
  • Methodologies and practical applications of border effect estimations;
  • Assessing the root-causes of border effects and potential policy responses;
  • Impacts of Cohesion Policy on reduction of border effects.

If you are interested in presenting a paper in this session, please submit your abstract of no more than 300 words via the RSA platform by 28th February 2019.

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SS6. Creative Peripheries? Thinking Innovation beyond Agglomeration

Session Organiser(s)

  • Jakob Eder, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Austria
  • Rahel Meili and Heike Mayer, University of Bern, Switzerland
  • Michaela Trippl, University of Vienna, Austria

Innovation processes are often conceptualized with an urban bias and are therefore theorized solely considering the perspective of the urban environment (e.g. close face-to-face contacts, dense urban milieus, fast interactions between a multitude and diverse actors, etc.). As a result, innovation theories do not sufficiently consider the context of the periphery and how this context may foster or hinder the development of innovative products, technologies, and services. A growing body of work shows that innovation also occurs outside agglomerations and that a less urbanised region may not necessarily be a hostile environment for innovation. However, it is recognised that regions outside of agglomerations are different and present a specific environment for innovation. For instance, firms in less urbanised regions use different knowledge sources than their counterparts in dense regions.

There is still limited knowledge about the ways in which innovative firms outside agglomerations utilize different forms of knowledge, how they are connected to their immediate environments but also to urban places, how the local context shapes innovation processes, and what kinds of contributions innovations make to their local communities (economic, political, social, etc.). To address this emerging strand within the discipline, we invite theoretical and empirical papers related, among others, to the following issues:

  • Highlighting potential benefits of peripheries: Are there overlooked benefits towards innovation besides the well-known shortcomings and challenges?
  • Analysing peripheries in novel ways: How can we move beyond or enhance single case studies (e.g. dynamic perspective, comparative design, …)?
  • Understanding innovation networks: How important are urban-rural linkages for innovation? What is the nature of innovation networks within peripheral regions?
  • Key actors of change: Who are the key individuals of economic development in the periphery? Which strategies do they apply to pursue their goals?
  • Identifying knowledge sources: Which knowledge sources do firms outside agglomerations use? How and where are they acquired?
  • The importance of diversity: How firms use and create diversity in a presumably low-diversity environment?
  • The rise of ICT: How does digitalization and automation influences innovation processes beyond agglomerations?
  • Mitigation of growth dependence in the periphery: What kinds of innovations exist that may lower the often traditional growth dependence of shrinking regions (g. involve novel forms of collaboration as well as innovations that meet social needs)? What is the role of key individuals/spatial pioneers?

If you are interested in presenting a paper in this session, please submit your abstract of no more than 300 words via the RSA platform by 28th February 2019.

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SS7. Local Value Creation Via Circular Economy

Session Organiser(s)

  • Dr. Karel Van den Berghe, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands
  • Dr. Aksel Ersoy, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands

The concept of circularity is seen as a next phase of the sustainable city. It has been used as a new buzzword by a diverse set of actors to tackle societal challenges such as the reduction of carbon emission, the reuse of materials and the promotion of sustainable cities and regions. However, the concept is also used uncritically most of the time and it has a tendency to become ‘ubiquitous’ and an ‘empty signifier’. In this session, we aim to explore local experiments and how they pursue, at least in ambition, local, inclusive economies inspired by concepts of circular systems such as building circular/circular building, circular area development and circular economy. We draw attention to those striving to capture local values that privileges alternative economies, environmentalism, social inclusion and grassroots creativity.

The session organisers invite contributions that draw on capturing local values attached to the circularity debates. We welcome both empirical and conceptual papers. Topics include (but are not limited to):

  • Local value creation via circular systems
  • The challenges of scale for circularity
  • The relational geography of the circular economy
  • The (debate on) social, ecological, ethical and economic aspects, assumptions and consequences of circular (re)development
  • (Critical) reflections on circular discourse and (a)political, (il)liberal and policy processes

If you are interested in presenting a paper in this session, please submit your abstract of no more than 300 words via the RSA platform by 28th February 2019.

Please do not hesitate to contact Karel Van den Berghe ( for more information about this session.

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SS8. From Waste Management to Circular Economy in Regions and Cities: Agendas, Arenas, Actors

Session Organiser(s)

In the last few years, circular economy concept has attracted a lot of attention among the policy-makers across the world, as illustrated among others by the raise of China’s Circular Economy Promotion Law, the  EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan or the proliferation of circular economy strategies and projects at the regional and city levels across Europe. Circular economy is about shifting 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. Thus circular economy entails reducing waste production and favouring materials circulation in ‘closed loops’, generating positive externalities for the environment, economic activity, spatial development and quality of life.

Naturally, this changing paradigm of sustainability also caught the attention of scholars, with a growing number of projects and publications on the topic. That said, as is often the case with such buzzwords, one observes a ‘conceptual stretching’ and a variety of interpretations of how circular economy should be translated into policies and what sort of governance, spatial, regulatory and behavioural changes it requires. In many cases, for instance, circular economy is interpreted in practice narrowly as an effort to promote better waste management with higher recycling and reuse rates, while in some regional and local contexts, there is at least an ambition to pursue the transition towards circular economy as a holistic shift in the way in which the economy and the society work, with a focus on closing the material flow loops, aiming for ‘zero waste’, generating new business models based on waste as a precious resource, and deeply transforming the society’s approach to consumption and disposal of goods and materials. Those ambitions, however, tend to be watered down when confronted with the multiple governance, economic, legal, political, socio-spatial and behavioural barriers. In sum, there is a need for more insight into how the challenge of transition to circular economy is interpreted and approached across different regions and cities and how it can be best promoted in a variety of institutional and territorial settings.

How to govern this transition in way that will respond to the territorial conditions? What governance innovations are needed? What decision-support would actors need to move forward on this agenda? What challenges are encountered in this across different cities and regions?  These are some of the questions that this special session, inspired by the on-going research to Horizon 2020 project REPAiR will explore. By proposing this session, we also hope to  draw the attention of the RSA members to this increasingly prominent topic that is bound to affect deeply regions and cities in the coming decades, albeit remains under-research in the regional studies field.

We invite paper proposals investigating one or several of the following topics:

  1. Governance challenges that circular economy brings at the regional and local scales;
  2. The role of territorial, socio-cultural, institutional features for governance of circular economy;
  3. Decision-making processes and challenges within them;
  4. Regulatory and institutional pre-conditions for circular economy;
  5. Governance innovations needed to promote transitions towards circular economy;
  6. Regional and local circular economy experiments;
  7. Comparative analyses on governance of circular economy.

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SS9. Smart Cities and the Commons: A Good Marriage?

Session Organiser(s)

  • Willem van Winden, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, The Netherlands
  • Luis Carvalho, University of Porto, Portugal
  • Ignazio Cabras, Northumbria University, UK
  • Gabriel Weber, ESSCA Ecole de Management, France

In this special session, we want to reflect on the concept of urban commons and commoning in relation to the smart city discourse.

The terms of ‘commons’ identifies an institutional arrangement that allows for the coordination and sharing of common pool resources such as fishing grounds, forests, irrigation systems or drink water basins (Madison, Strandburg, & Frischmann, 2016). The process of constructing a commons— referred to as ‘commoning’ – involves a collaborative process that brings together a wide spectrum of actors, working together to co-design and co-produce shared goods and services at different scales (Hess et al., n.d.); (Bresnihan & Byrne, 2014).

In her classic book, Ostrom (2015) meticulously analyses case studies where commons were self-managed in a sustainable way by stakeholders, and she derived a set of design principles that make this possible. Her findings suggest that commons are not doomed to be overexploited, contrarily to what stated in Hardin’s theory of the tragedy of the commons (Hardin, 1986). In recent times, the concept of commoning has increasingly been applied to cities, in particular to public places, spaces, buildings or infrastructures that can be characterized as common or shared resources. In the extreme cases, management of such resources can be done by the state (nationalisation of the resource), or by the market (privatisation), but there is a third way that is often more effective: collaborative governance. Several cities, with Bologna and Ghent as frontrunners, are currently experimenting with the commoning approach. Collaborative management approaches are applied to manage parks, public spaces, or buildings.

For instance, solutions in terms of urban commons can be effective in situations where multiple bodies claim access and influence over spaces within an urban context. Some scholars have conceptualized the city as a whole as a commons, others refer to micro-spaces within e.g., public streets, public parks, any public and neighbourhood amenities, and public spaces. There is an ongoing debate whether the actual ownership of a specific resource, either public or private, is relevant in the context of the urban commons, or whether the focus should instead be placed on governance (Foster & Iaione, 2018). The ‘common pool resource’ of the city may be owned by a variety of actors, with the governance of these actors as the more relevant discourse in a commons analysis. Foster and Iaione (2018) distilled a number of key design principles for urban commons.

In this special session, we want to address and explore smart city developments from the conceptual lens of urban commons, using commoning as a process of creating, managing, governing and accessing common resources within urban areas. We see two rationales for the application of commoning discourses to smart cities.

First, smart city developments and projects affect existing common urban resources. Digital technology is transforming existing public spaces through applications of augmented reality, crowd nudging (e.g. using sensors and light), new types of advertisements etc. From a commons perspective, this raises new questions concerning the ownership, governance, access and privacy of spaces, the associated information and data, and the algorithms based on them. Another manifestation is the re-municipalisation of energy and water companies in a number of German cities, where privatisation has been reversed and energy supply is managed by new coalitions of municipality and citizen cooperatives.

Second, smart city developments may entail the creation of new common urban resources. These take the form of new public spaces such as green (or green-blue) roofs on top of buildings or blocks, that become (semi) public parks for residents, raising new questions about ownership, governance and access. In addition, citizen collectives use innovative technology to create new types of common resources, such as a shared car fleets for entire neighbourhoods, or common sustainable energy solutions for individual blocks or entire neighbourhoods. Again, these developments raise questions about collaborative ownership, access, management and governance, where insights from the literature on (urban) commons can add value for theory and practice.

For this special session, we invite contributions that can generate new knowledge about the creation and management of urban common resources in the light of a wide range of smart city developments as highlighted above. We therefore welcome literature reviews, case studies, and conceptual papers that explore and examine smart city developments from the perspective of the commons.

Selection of relevant literature

    • Bollier, D., & Helfrich, S. (Eds.). (2015). Patterns of commoning. Commons Strategy Group and Off the Common Press.
    • Bresnihan, P., & Byrne, M. (2014). Escape into the City: Everyday Practices of Commoning and the Production of Urban Space in Dublin.
    • Bulkeley, H., Coenen, L., Frantzeskaki, N., Hartmann, C., Kronsell, A., Mai, L.,  & Palgan, Y. V. (2016). Urban living labs: governing urban sustainability transitions. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 22, 13-17.
    • Caragliu, A., Del Bo, C., & Nijkamp, P. (2011). Smart cities in Europe. Journal of urban technology18(2), 65-82.
    • Foster, S., & Iaione, C. (2018, February 26). Ostrom in the City: Design Principles and Practices for the Urban Commons. Retrieved from
    • Hardin, G. (1968). The tragedy of the commons. science, 162(3859), 1243-1248.
    • Hess, C., Ostrom, E., Bollier, D., Boyle, J., Cox, J. C., Ghosh, S., … Waters, D. J. (n.d.). Understanding Knowledge as a Commons. Retrieved from
    • Meijer, A., & Bolívar, M. P. R. (2016). Governing the smart city: a review of the literature on smart urban governance. International Review of Administrative Sciences82(2), 392-408.
    • Madison, M. J., Strandburg, K. J., & Frischmann, B. M. (2016, September 20). Knowledge Commons. Retrieved from
    • Ostrom, E. (2015). Governing the commons. Cambridge university press.
    • Walravens, N., & Ballon, P. (2013). Platform business models for smart cities: from control and value to governance and public value. IEEE Communications Magazine51(6), 72-79.

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SS10. Predicting Spatial Impacts of Automated Vehicles

Session Organiser(s)

Automated vehicles rely on technology which can replace or assist a driver to conduct complex driving tasks, starting from simple driving assistance (e.g. automated control on speed, Society of Automotive Engineers SAE Level 1) up to very complex, fully automated driving systems which can perform all driving tasks in some (SAE level 4) or in all conditions (SAE level 5). Apart from substantial technological and communication changes, the deployment of automated vehicles is likely to deeply influence passenger and freight transport, and to transform land use in urban, suburban, and rural areas. Moreover, automated transport creates favourable conditions for shared mobility systems. In consequence, we face an urgent need to identify and evaluate the spatial impacts of automated transport systems, including their social, economic, and environment implications at local, urban, regional and national level.

Even though, automated driving technology is considered to be still in its infancy, there is growing interest in this topic, expressed by researchers as well as by the public and private sectors. Socio-economic impacts of connected, automated, and shared mobility were the main topics of the 6th EU-US Transportation Research Symposium 2018 co-organized by the European Commission and the Transportation Research Board (TRB) and are also one of the main challenges explored within the WISE-ACT COST Action (Wider Impacts and Scenario Evaluation of Autonomous and Connected Transport). This session creates an opportunity to inform and further academic debates and policy discussions about the potential impacts of automated transport, including its significant spatial perspective. A keynote presentation is anticipated to be delivered during this session by Dimitris Milakis Ph. D., Head of the ‘Automated driving and new mobility concepts’ Research Group at the Institute of Transport Research, German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Berlin. His numerous publications over the past few years about relevant topics will set the context and frame the discussions of this session.

During this session, we would like to review and summarise the state-of-the-art of the spatial impacts of the deployment of automated vehicles’ technology. Therefore, this session invites contributions to the literature about geographical dimension of automated vehicle impacts related (but not limited) to:

  • Urban and regional planning with a primary focus on institutional and governance issues;
  • Accessibility (to jobs, services etc.) and its measurement at local/urban/regional/national level;
  • Territorial cohesion, regional disparities, wellbeing and social equity;
  • Land use and location choices, including sub-urbanisation, residential mobility and/or (de)centralization of economic activities;
  • Travel patterns and modal share at local/urban/regional/national level.


If you are interested in presenting your research at this session, please submit your abstract of no more than 300 words via the RSA platform by 28th February 2019. Early contact with the session organisers is encouraged to discuss potential topics and submissions. In case of any questions about this session and abstract submission, do not hesitate to contact session organizers.

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SS11. Regional Development in a Disastrous World

Session Organiser(s)

  • Elisa Giuliani, University of Pisa, Italy
  • Simona Iammarino, London School of Economics, UK

For long, one of the key preoccupations of economic geographers has been to understand the drivers of regional economic growth, as growth is considered key to achieve greater wellbeing and prosperity, stronger institutions and more peaceful societies. The opening of regional economic systems and the strengthening of their technological and innovative capabilities have largely been the mantras of most such research and related policy recommendations. Over the past two or three decades, a gigantic wave of research has literally vivisected the topic of regional economic growth, focusing on what we need more: more innovation, more spin offs, more venture capitalists, more openness and connections to external knowledge, skills and markets, more talents and training, more multinational firms, more networks, more related or unrelated variety, etc.

Yet this agenda is showing two fundamental drawbacks: first, it has generally left undisputed the idea that economic growth is the ultimate goal to be pursued; second, it bears no consideration to what is lost as business companies and other organizations allegedly contribute to regional growth. By loss we refer here to the noxious impacts on society and the environment, and more broadly on territorial and individual equity and human rights, that are produced by companies as they operate locally or internationally, via their value chains. We refer more specifically, just to mention a few, to climate change consequences of industrial growth; to premature deaths connected to fine particulates’ contamination by car exhaust or factories; to industrial sites being the root cause of cancer villages in China and elsewhere; to child labour employed, for instance, in the cocoa value chains of Africa; to bonded labour afflicting migrants in Italy’s tomato picking business, among other sectors; to indigenous communities deprivation of their right to water, health and life in connection with mining and other extractive activities; to the extraction of conflict minerals like coltan, which feeds into the production of top electronic brands and is one of the primary resources behind Industry 4.0; to growing monopolies draining financial resources from competitive sectors, while wages and prospective profits offered in regions where monopolies are based drain skilled workers from other regions. Given the growing evidence of business-related harmful impacts on equity and human rights among people and places, these drawbacks are not minor issues and call for a novel research agenda that forcefully takes them into account along with economic goals.

In this Special Session we seek to stimulate a lively debate and set the basis for an ongoing conversation on the future of regional economic development research and policy. To be sure, we do not mean to build a “silo”-type conversation where social, environmental and human rights issues are seen as hyper-specialized side topics of no interest to hard core regional economists or economic geographers. Rather we want to promote a discussion where considerations about regional economic growth are balanced with growth-related side effects or harmful impacts.

We seek abstracts addressing conceptual and/or empirical issues in the following areas:

  • Environmental challenges and regional economic development
  • Local human rights in global value chains, covering issues such as child labour, modern slavery, and indigenous communities’ right to water and land
  • Technological change and resource exploitation across geographies
  • Agglomeration and monopoly rents’ extraction
  • Local consequences of IPR and Taxation’s international regulation (or lack of it)
  • Industry 4.0. and conflict minerals
  • Health issues, cancer clusters and regional development
  • Regional development policies addressing economic as well as social and environmental concerns

A careful selection of the abstracts proposed will be applied to give breath to the session, and stimulate a discussion on the main aspects of growth-led approaches in economic geography.

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SS12. Emerging Industries: Institutions, Legitimacy and System Building

Session Organiser(s)

  • Christian Binz, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Techology, Switzerland
  • Huiwen Gong, Kiel University, Germany
  • Robert Hassink, Kiel University, Germany
  • Michaela Trippl, University of Vienna, Austria

In recent decades, the emergence of internet-related, biotechnology-based and ‘green’ industries has catalyzed significant economic development in regions, nations and globally. While the existing literature has dealt intensively with issues such as how preexisting local assets and industry structures influence the pace and direction of new path development, and the importance of complex interactions between firms and non-firm actors, the institutional aspects of the emergence of industry in regions have not yet attracted the same attention.

This special session thus aims at bringing together papers analyzing the emergence of new industries in regions from a multi-scalar institutional perspective. We aim for conceptual, methodological and empirical papers that examine the topics of multi-scalar institutional agencies, institutional entrepreneurship, and institutional logics and work. Moreover, the focus will be on legitimation, valuation dynamics and system building activities, which are relevant for the emergence of new industries in regions.

We particularly invite contributions that help to answer one or several of the following research questions:

  • How is legitimacy for emerging industries built up in regions/nations/ internationally?
  • What roles do multiple actors play in (de-)legitimizing emerging industries, including (institutional) entrepreneurs, firms, policy-makers, end-users, and various intermediary actors? What kind of institutional work is necessary thereby?
  • How do legitimation processes for the same industry differ between regions/ countries? And how do such processes vary between industries?
  • What multi-scalar institutional arrangements hinder or support the creation of new industrial paths in a given region? Where, how and at what scale may early entrepreneurs best intervene in these multi-scalar arrangements?
  • How do the emerging industries differ from the established ones in terms of institutional logics? How do the coexistence, conflicts, and convergence of diverse institutional logics contribute to the dynamics of the emerging industries?
  • What are the common institutional barriers that regional/national policy-makers come across in supporting an emerging industry and how to overcome them?
  • To what extent does copycatting (chasing similar ventures without clear comparative advantages) occur concerning policies to support path creation in regions?

If you are interested in presenting a paper in this session, please submit your abstract of no more than 300 words via the RSA platform by 28th February 2019.

After the conference, we encourage presenters to submit their paper to the special issue in Regional Studies, see: Taylor and Francis

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SS13. Digital and Spatial Transformation: Structures and Relations in the Knowledge Economy

Session Organiser(s)

  • Michael Bentlage, Technical University of Munich, Germany
  • Stefan Lüthi, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Switzerland
  • Alain Thierstein, Technical University of Munich, Germany

Digital transformation, structural change towards the knowledge economy as well as the structural consequences of the economic and financial crisis from 2008/09 keep the global economy a dynamic landscape. Since the 1990s, the knowledge economy has continuously gained importance. New enabling technologies – big data, connectivity, automation, and digital customer interfaces – lead yet to another leap in diversifying the spatially anchored processes of knowledge creation and thus change the spatial character of industrialization organization and almost all services industries.

Therewith, firms reorganize their localized value chains continuously in order to exploit agglomeration and network economies and to sustain competitive advantage. The abilities of firms and regions to innovate, to reposition themselves and to generate new knowledge become more diverse. We observe increasing uncertainty about technological, institutional and behavioural trends affecting business models and uncertainty pertaining to where and to how to develop individual localized elements of the value chain of individual firms. Agglomerated urbanized regions – functional urban areas – have more and more become the hotbeds of new driving forces and provide a critical mass of being close and being connected at the same.

The way in which agglomeration economies and network economies interact on supra-regional, national and global scale varies. We observe a geographical shift from at least two perspectives: The development of spatial structural attributes – employment, population, gross value added, accessibility etcetera – and the relations among functional urban areas. We apply a combination of attribute-based analyses and relational approaches in order to better understand the evolution of the ongoing functional urban transformation. How do these constituent parts interact with each other? To what extent does structural change towards a knowledge economy and the digital transformation lead to a re-concentration of business locations in functional urban areas? To the contrary, even: do these processes induce individual elements of the economic value chains to be relocated to peripheral locations – near-shoring and far-shoring – in order to better secure quality assurance and to tap into new knowledge and specialized labour markets? More fundamentally, though: does digital transformation have the power for “creative destruction” and for to be spatially disruptive? If yes is the answer, then this outcome would constitute a structural breakdown, which – driven by innovation – is manifested in pronounced reconfigurations of employment strata and in value chains, newly structured and organized in space.

Submitting papers

Our special session calls for papers that explore, analyse 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 analyses of network structures in the knowledge economy and the geographical shift in the context of digital transformation.
  2. Theoretical and methodological reflections on the inter-relationship of agglomeration economies, network economies and the concept of proximity in the context of digitation and urban transformation.

The deadline for submission is on February 28th 2019. Please follow the guidelines for paper submission on the website of the conference:

In addition, interested participants should send expression of interest, questions and/ or title and abstract by e-mail to Michael Bentlage ( before February 21st 2019, so that we can put together the session as early as possible.

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SS14. Uneven Development in Global Production Networks: Causes and Implications

Session Organiser(s)

  • Sören Scholvin, University of Hanover, Germany
  • Miguel Atienza, Universidad Católica del Norte, Chile

Quite optimistically, international organisations such as the World Bank suggest that integrating into Global Production Networks (GPNs) triggers development at peripheral places. Mainstream literature from Economic Geography also tends to generate the idea that positive economic outcomes result from ‘strategic coupling’, meaning that regions merely have to set up institutions that bring transnational companies and local assets together. However, numerous studies have shown that peripheral places that integrate into the global economy often suffer from economic and social downgrading. Strategic coupling may lead to development, but this is not foregone conclusion. Against this backdrop, scholars have called for research to be carried out on the ‘dark sides’ of GPNs and inroads have been built into analysing alternative paths to development, for example via ‘strategic de-coupling’.

We think that much remains to be investigated regarding the pitfalls and shortcomings of integration into GPNs. The objective of this session is to discuss the causes of uneven development in GPNs – with emphasis on regions that are not able to capture value to a significant extent – as well as the implications for economic/development policy. We are particularly interested in contributions that deal with:

  • policies that intervene in processes of strategic coupling to maximise domestic outcomes or liberalise national economies so as to bring about market-driven development,
  • the role of cities as nodes of command and control that concentrate high value-capture segments of GPNs to the detriment of peripheral places and/or allow for a ‘geographical transfer of value’,
  • cities and regions that remain as enclaves within the current organisation of GPNs,
  • growth corridors as a means to facilitate strategic coupling by establishing institutions conducive of foreign investment and rehabilitating transport infrastructure, and
  • production networks limited to the Global South or regional economic blocs and meant to serve as an alternative to GPNs that is more beneficial for peripheral development.


  • Arias, Martín, Miguel Atienza and Jan Cademartori. 2014. ‘Large Mining Enterprises and Regional Development in Chile: Between the Enclave and Cluster’. Journal of Economic Geography 14.1: 73–95.
  • Breul, Moritz and Javier Revilla Diez. 2018. ‘An Intermediate Step to Resource Peripheries: The Strategic Coupling of Gateway Cities in the Upstream Oil and Gas GPN’. Geoforum 92.6: 9–17.
  • Coe, Neil M. and Henry W. Yeung. 2015. Global Production Networks: Theorizing Economic Development in an Interconnected World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Horner, Rory. 2014. ‘Strategic Decoupling, Recoupling and Global Production Networks: India’s Pharmaceutical Industry’. Journal of Economic Geography 14.6: 1117–40.
  • Parnreiter, Christof. 2019. ‘Global Cities and the Geographical Transfer of Value’. Urban Studies 56.1: 81–96.
  • Phelps, Nicholas A., Miguel Atienza and Martín Arias. 2018. ‘An Invitation to the Dark Side of Economic Geography’. Environment and Planning A 50.1: 236–44.

The deadline for submission is on February 28th 2019. Please follow the guidelines for paper submission on the website of the conference:

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SS15. The Actors of Cohesion Policy: Transnational Organisation, Administrative Capacity and Multilevel Governance

Session Organiser(s)

RSA Research Network on Cohesion Policy [CPNet] –

  • Nicola Francesco Dotti, Vrije Universiteit, Belgium
  • Serafin Pazos-Vidal, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) and Universidad Nacional de Educacion a Distancia (UNED), Belgium
  • Sonia De Gregorio Hurtado, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain
  • Ida Musialkowska, Poznan University of Economics and Business, Poland
  • Eduarda Marques da Costa, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal
  • Leaza McSorley, Glasgow Caledonian University, UK
  • Alberto Bramanti, Bocconi University, Italy
  • Oto Potluka, University of Basel, Switzerland

The implementation of the EU Cohesion Policy (CP) requires the coordination of multiple actors leading to the well-known issue of the multi-level governance (Bernard, 2002; Bachtler and McMaster, 2008; Bachtler and Mendez, 2007; Dotti, 2013; Marks, 1995). The coordination of a rich, heterogeneous and articulated constellation of actors is a major challenge which led to the creation of new actors as well as changing roles for many of them, at both local and supranational level (Barca, 2009; Dotti, 2016; Rodriguez-Pose and Gill, 2003).

In the complex multilevel governance for the EU regional and urban policy, the identification of those policy actors (from individuals to organisation, from associations to public administrations), and the way they interact and learn how to interact are crucial factors for the success of the CP. However, the administrative and political capacity of those actors vary across European regions significantly affecting the success of the CP. Finally, several actors have been established to promote transnational cooperation (e.g. Eurocities), sharing policy experiences (e.g. Urbact networks) and promoting policy-relevant research (e.g. ESPON programme).

This session welcomes contributions aiming to shed light on the different types of actors, their strategies and their influence on the success or failure of the CP at the regional and urban level. This theme includes, but is not limited to,

  • The actors that set the priorities of CP at EU level, and national level.
  • The actors designing and implementing CP at the EU, national, regional and local level;
  • The actors promoting policy transfer across European cities and regions;
  • The actors in charge of cross-border cooperation;
  • The actors working on the boundaries of different tiers of government;
  • The actors promoting policy learning to improve administrative capacity; and
  • The influence of those actors for the regional and city development in the context of the Cohesion Policy.

The session organisers invite contribution focusing on the above-mentioned actors and their role for European cities and regions in the context of the CP. We welcome both empirical and conceptual papers.

If you are interested in presenting a paper in this session, please submit your abstract of no more than 300 words via the RSA platform by 28th February 2019.

The CPNet welcomes contribution especially by participants of the Master Class of the European Week of Cities and Regions and young scholars.

For any further information, do not hesitate to contact Nicola F. Dotti ( for more information about this session.

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SS16. Putting Universities in their Place – An Evidence Based Approach to Understanding the Contribution of Higher Education to Local and Regional Development

Session Organiser(s)

This session is led by the team running an RSA policy expo on the theme of HEIs in regional development.

  • Mark Tewdwr-Jones, Newcastle University, UK
  • Louise Kempton, Newcastle University, UK
  • Paul Vallance, Sheffield University, UK
  • Maria Conceição Rego, Evora University, Portugal
  • Lucir Reinaldo Alves, Western Parana State University, Brazil
  • Mauricio Aguiar Serra, University of Campinas, Brazil

A summary of the expo is as follows:

There have been several attempts in recent years to create conceptual frameworks and models to help universities and policy makers understand the role and contribution of higher education to local and regional development.  However these models have failed to fully reflect (or give insufficient attention to) the impact of the regional context (economic, social, political), the policy environment for higher education and territorial development and the diversity of management and leadership structures of universities themselves.  This has led to the development of static models that rarely work outside of the immediate context in which they were developed and therefore risk leading to design of policies that are not fit for purpose.  This Policy Expo will work with partners in Europe, South America, Africa, Asia and Australia to develop a new approach to thinking about the university that can be adapted to the specificity of institutional and local contexts.

This workshop will present the first draft of a new framework to understand the role of universities in regional development and explain the methodology used to develop and test it.  It will present a number of case studies of where it has been applied and the findings and implications for future iterations of the model.  Implications for universities and policy makers will be considered during a panel and plenary discussion.

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SS17. Politics of Displacement, Identity and Urban Citizenship in Migratory Contexts

Session Organiser(s)

  • RSA Network on the Politics of Displacement, Identity and Urban Citizenship in Migratory Contexts

Much of the mainstream (and western oriented) focus on the global ‘refugee crisis’ oscillates between two hegemonic representations: the abstract and individuated ideals of “universal humanity” which inform the political discourse around humanitarianism, and the ethnically and territorially defined categories of national citizenship against which an objectified figure of “the refugee” comes into question. Humanitarian discourses tend to depoliticise the conditions and consequences of displacement by obscuring the already racialised, sexualised, and religious framings of the refugee as an object of compassion or suspicion. In comparison, the state-centered approaches often naturalise the political conditions of borders, territorial divisions, and ethnic boundaries of citizenship that have in fact produced multiple forms of displacement to which the nation-state is now posed as the solution.

In these sessions we aim to bring together researchers in regional studies who  offer alternatives to these perspectives by attending to the historical, socio-spatial and religious underpinnings of displacement in their specific contexts of study. We invite abstracts that attend to one or more of the following questions in an attempt to complicate notions of universal humanity and bounded citizenship:

  • In what ways has the global ‘refugee crisis’ unsettled and recreated regions, territories and urban spaces?
  • How does power operate within mundane social relations and how are these relations interrupted, circumscribed, and transformed by the frames of humanitarianism and national citizenship?
  • When do the micro-political relations of hospitality, neighborliness, friendship, and kinship mirror the broader political processes, and what alternatives to policy, if any, do they provide?
  • What is the role of space, scale, and place making in addressing displacement as a historically produced and socially configured force of everyday interaction?
  • How do displaced people make claims to the city through pluralistic social, political, and religious practices and alternative economic networks?
  • What are the impacts of transregional and transnational mobility on ethno-religious identities, urban transformation, and regional and territorial policies in the face of rapidly changing and increasingly precarious lived realities?

If you are interested in presenting a paper in this session, please submit your abstract of no more than 300 words via the RSA platform by 28th February 2019.

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SS18. Community Led-Local Development (CLLD): Experimental Governance and Task-specific Space for Policy Action

Session Organiser(s)

  • Loris Antonio Servillo, Politecnico di Torino, Italy and University College London, UK

The special session offers a platform to discuss the Community-Led Local Development (CLLD) instrument, one of the most interesting “territorial delivery mechanisms” of the current EU 2014-2020 programming period. Built on the former LEADER project, it attempts to overcome the sectorial (rural or maritime) approach of the previous instrument through a more integrated policy agenda for ad-hoc sub-regional and urban areas. Despite the typical rigidity of an EU institutional technology, it offers the ground for interesting governance experimentations.

In particular, the instrument foresees the tailoring of a specific area (from urban neighbourhood to cross-border regions) through an explicit bottom-up dynamic and community engagement (as mentioned in its acronym), to the purpose of setting and implementing a strategic development plan. Pushing the traditional administrative regions beyond their jurisdictional borders, and supporting direct engagement of local actors, this instrument provides prime material for this RSA conference core issue. Therefore, this session is interested in discussing the policy instrument beyond the sole investigation of its policy agenda, for a more encompassing understanding of the generated regional crafting.

The tailoring of the task-specific regional constituency for policy action is a key concern for regional studies, as well as for political science and local and regional planning. Together with the investigation of the policy for which the tailored region is conceived, a broad variety of studies have underlined the importance of other dimensions, such as:

  • the relationship between spatiality and territoriality, and the role of space as ‘mean’ and ‘objective’ of governance;
  • the role of spatial imaginaries as catalyst of policy action and political coalitions;
  • the multi-level governance architecture, the meta-governance framing, and the vertical and horizontal shift of competences and power;
  • the specificity of the polity as new policy arena, and its institutional design;
  • the community’s role in the process, and the legitimacy of the regional constituency.

Accordingly, this session is interested to gather studies, cases and approaches to the CLLD that follow these lines of investigations. It aims at sharing knowledge and experiences that might include, but are not limited to the following four sub-themes:

  1. the spatiality of the generated region. What is the cultural adherence between the tailored space and the societal dynamics? What is the relationship with the territoriality of the local administrations and what type of territorial synchrony is foreseen? To what extent it has the potentiality to become a new polity for further policy actions?
  2. The spatial imaginary and the policy agenda. What spatial dimensions have been addressed? What is the novelty in terms of spatial imaginary associated to small and medium sized towns and in-between territories, urban-rural integration, and/or urban areas? Contextually, how EU funds’ characteristics are supporting or limiting the constituency of new spatial narrative?
  3. the role of multilevel governance process and the state’s role. How has the institutional design shaped the policy agenda and the spatial polity? How did the multi-scalar decision making set the institutional boundary of the CLLD implementation (through eligible funds, areas, and/or actors) in specific countries or regions?

The democratic experimentalism and new forms of deliberation. What is the role of the Local Action Group and its societal composition? Are there innovative forms of participation and decision-making processes? What forms of public and private interactions were set up?

If you are interested in presenting a paper in this session, please submit your abstract of no more than 300 words via the RSA platform by 28th February 2019.

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SS19. The Identities of Territories: Seeking their Economic and Political Consequences

Session Organiser(s)

  • Inês Gusman, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Spain
  • Syd Morgan – Morgan Academy, Swansea University, Wales

Different societies around the world are now constantly exposed to similar external influences. Such exposure has caused a dilution of the specific features of territories. Yet, due to a globalised competition, place differences and reputation can be seen as more important than ever for the development of territories. In fact, some territories are now attempting to identify unique characteristics to build on or maintain their own place in the world. For this reason, much research in recent years has focused on the complex relationship between territory and the economic and social functions of collective identity in the age of globalisation. Nevertheless, this relationship remains ill-defined for the purposes of analysis and measurement. From different disciplines, the identities of territories are being addressed through different concepts and methodologies. For this purpose, this session aims at pushing the identities of territories beyond disciplinary borders to build a common understanding of their analysis, and to find out how such identities can be incorporated in the development strategies of territories.

This session welcomes proposals from different disciplines focused on the study of how identities of territories – at different spatial scales: national, regional, place, etc. – affect economics, socio-economics and/or political economies. Therefore, we especially welcome theoretical and empirical contributions on (but not limited to):

  • The potential economic and political consequences of the identities of territories;
  • Methodologies to analyse and measure the uniqueness of territories;
  • Assessment of the economic value of the identities of territories;
  • Strategies to enhance the economic value of identities;
  • The relationship between identity and the institutionalization of territories;
  • Marketing strategies and the representation of territories through identities;
  • Cultural policies, touristic strategies and the identities of territories;
  • The impacts of geographical associations of goods and services.

If you are interested in presenting a paper in this session, please submit your abstract of no more than 300 words via the RSA platform by 28th February 2019.

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SS20. Regional Economic Resilience: Latest Development and New Research Frontiers

Session Organiser(s)

  • Tasos Kitsos, City-REDI, University of Birmingham, UK
  • Raquel Ortega-Argiles, City-REDI, University of Birmingham, UK

The 2008 recession has generated a lot of research interest into economic crises. Part of this research has focused on the origin and propagation of downturns whilst another on the capacity of places to avoid or overcome the negative effects of a crisis. Since then, several papers identified a significant variation in the way different localities within countries have performed during and after the crisis. This variation prompted research on regional economic resilience which at the current climate of global economic uncertainty becomes even more pertinent.

Research on the determinants of economic resilience has already shed light to factors such as skills and broad industrial structure indicators such as specialisation and diversification. However, there is still a need to better understand what places can do to improve their resilience capacity. Among the angles that could benefit from more research insight are the methods and measurement of resilience and the spatial implications of more or less resilient regions; the role of governance and how policies can be shaped to improve economic resilience; the theory and mechanisms through which various determinants affect resilience as well as the interactions between them.

This session aims to bring together the latest research on economic resilience and discuss the new frontiers in the field. It invites contributions that focus on:

  • Theoretical developments on a resilience framework
  • New measures and methods of resilience
  • The determinants of economic resilience at the sub-national level
  • The role of governance and policy applications in improving economic resilience
  • The spatial footprint of resilience

Should you need more information, please do not hesitate to contact Tasos Kitsos (

If you are interested in presenting a paper in this session, please submit your abstract of no more than 300 words via the RSA platform by 28th February 2019.

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SS21. Twenty Years of EU Cohesion Policy in Southern Europe: Issues and Opportunities from a Euro-Mediterranean Perspective

Session Organiser(s)

SVIMEZ-Associazione per lo Sviluppo dell’ Industria nel Mezzogiorno (Association for the development of industry in Southern Italy, Rome):

  • Adriano Giannola, President of SVIMEZ, Italy (
  • Guido Pellegrini, University of Rome la Sapienza, President of AISRE, Member of the Board of Directors of SWIMEZ, Italy
  • Luca Bianchi, Director of SVIMEZ, Italy
  • Carmelo Petraglia, University of Basilicata, Italy

The local development focus and ‘place-based’ approach of the EU Cohesion policy in the last twenty years has entrusted the design and governance of development strategies to regional and local actors. This approach has not worked in less developed contexts with weak government institutions, namely the South of Italy, but also other Mediterranean regions and places. Less developed Mediterranean regions host over 25 million people and represent a growing vulnus for the cohesion of Europe.

This session proposes to critically examine some of the shortcomings of the ‘place-based’ approach in these contexts and to identify policy recommendations, from a Euro-Mediterranean perspective. More specifically, it seeks to explore the conditions for putting the Mediterranean region at the centre of Cohesion policy and make it a qualifying element of its overall sustainable development strategy.

The EU’s 20-20-20 goals (20% increase in energy efficiency, 20% reduction of CO2 emissions, and 20% renewables) could represent a key framework for such a strategy, together with the construction of a ‘Southern Range’ project – based for example on an integrated network of ports and Special Economic Zones. Such a Euro-Mediterranean strategy, however, cannot be entrusted to individual regions and would require a centralised choreography and governance, that would make it a central element of the overall EU sustainable growth project.

Proposed papers

  • Problems and opportunities for a reformed EU cohesion policy: the Euro-Mediterranean perspective, Adriano Giannola
  • Achievements and failures of the European cohesion policy: a long term assessment, Guido Pellegrini
  • Europe 20-20-20 strategy, sustainable development and cohesion policy. The need for a coherent framework, Adriano Giannola, Luca Bianchi and Carmelo Petraglia

The session organisers invite contributions that draw on the above issues and policy perspective. Both empirical and conceptual papers are welcomed.

Please do not hesitate to contact Adriano Giannola ( ) for more information.

If you are interested in presenting a paper in this session, please submit your abstract of no more than 300 words via the RSA platform by 28th February 2019.

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SS22. Out of the Comfort Zone? The Implementation of Smart Specialisation Strategies in EU Regions

Session Organiser(s)

  • Dr Carlo Gianelle, JRC-S3 Platform, Spain
  • Dr. Fabrizio Guzzo, JRC-S3 Platform, Spain
  • Dr. Elisabetta Marinelli, JRC-S3 Platform, Spain
  • Dr. Vassilis Monastiriotis, London School of Economics, UK
  • Dr. Laura Polverari, University Strathclyde, UK
  • Dr. Alessandro Rosiello, University of Edinburgh, UK

Recent rounds of Cohesion policy reform have led to stronger concentration of resources on ‘smart growth’ priorities, including through increased ESI Funds allocations to R&I, ICT and SME support. Smart Specialisation was introduced, as a new strategic approach for the 2014-20 Cohesion policy programmes, to help regions tap into their innovation potential, strengthen competitiveness and unleash growth. Commission proposals for post-2020 Cohesion policy suggest building further on the Smart Specialisation approach, seen as a cornerstone to the ‘Smarter Europe’ goals. At the same time, EU-level data shows that despite the S3s being a prerequisite for receiving ERDF funding, the take-up of this new approach remains diversified. While some regions have engaged with smart specialisation proactively and successfully, others have been more reluctant to change their ways or found designing and implementing Smart Specialisation Strategies challenging.

The organisers of this Special Session invite papers that examine the implementation of Smart Specialisation Strategies across the EU and beyond, with a particular focus on the delivery of such strategies, namely the integration of S3 priorities in project selection, the continuation of entrepreneurial discovery throughout programme implementation, the monitoring and evaluation of S3-related outcomes, the appraisal of first results and the identification of lessons that can improve the future implementation of the approach.

This Special Session builds on recent research and events organised by the proponents, involving both academics and policymakers (such as the “SmarTer” Conference held in Seville in September 2018, the IQ-Net Conference on Smarter Europe held in Bilbao in November 2018, the Smart Specialisation @ work workshop held in Brussels in December 2018 and the EPRC Seminar on Smart Specialisation in catch-up regions which was held in Glasgow also in December 2018). Capitalising on this recent research and debates, the following (not exhaustive) list of questions has been identified:

  • How effectively is Smart Specialisation translated from strategy to projects on the ground?
  • How and how effectively is the Entrepreneurial Discovery Process continued into implementation? What have been the strengths and bottlenecks?
  • To what extent has the Smart Specialisation approach been able to facilitate the shift from a triple to a quadruple helix? What conditions should be put in place to facilitate this shift in the future?
  • To what extent has the administrative capacity of public authorities at regional and national levels, and of stakeholders, acted as a barrier to the implementation of Smart Specialisation? What has been done/can be done to overcome this?
  • What should public administrations – at European, national, regional and sub-regional levels – do to deal with the lack of necessary pre-conditions (e.g. lack of entrepreneurial capacity, institutional readiness, weak civil society etc.)?
  • How well have the synergies with Horizon 2020, the ESF, and with domestic industrial and innovation policies worked? How can they be fostered further?
  • What is the potential for an internationalisation of the Smart Specialisation approach?
  • How can the Smart Specialisation approach be strengthened in the future?
  • To what extent are Smart Specialisation Strategies delivering real concentration? To what extent are they leading to economic transformation?
  • Is the Smart Specialisation approach fit for purpose?

If you are interested in presenting a paper in this session, please submit your abstract of no more than 300 words via the RSA platform by 28th February 2019.

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SS23. Strengthening the Impact of Research on EU Local Development Policies (Closed session for submissions but open for everyone to attend)

Session Organiser(s)

  • LDnet

In June 2018, during the RSA conference in Lugano, researchers and practitioners had a lively discussion on “What the Cohesion Policy wants (but does not get) from research: the case of local development”. In 2019, we propose to take this discussion one step further, and to see how researchers can effectively contribute to the design and evaluation of policy tools targeting local development under EU funding proposals for 2021-2027.

One of the objectives of the next period’s EU funding is contributing to a Europe closer to citizens by fostering the sustainable and integrated local development and local initiatives. Policy tools available to meet this objective include a continuation of Community-Led Local Development (CLLD), implemented since 2014 under four EU Funds in rural, coastal and urban areas. New tools are also envisaged, such as “Smart Villages” proposed under the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) – small-scale collaborative actions looking for new solutions to challenges facing the local community (including, where relevant, digital solutions, social innovation etc.).

The discussion will kick off with an overview of challenges of connecting research with policy tools targeting local development, presented from the perspective of policy makers, practitioners and researchers. A possible practical outcome of the discussion could be proposals and recommendations for strengthening the linkages between local development policy and research, including the possibility of creating a “community of experts” around the themes of local development and smart villages.

A Background Paper is available at:

Chair: Peter Ramsden

Speakers: Michel Laine, AEIDL (practitioners’ perspective) Urszula Budzich-Tabor, FARNET/LDnet (practitioners’ perspective) Nicola Francesco Dotti, VUB (researchers’ perspective) Terry Stavropoulos, DG Regio (policy makers’ perspective).

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SS24. Filming Regions Beyond their Borders: The Role of Film Commissions

Session Organiser(s)

  • Enrico Nicosia, University of  Messina, Italy
  • Lucrezia Lopez, University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Film Commissions interpret a new vision of the cinema, meant as a possible tool for the economic development of a territory (Beeton, 2016). Thanks to its work, resources and places undergo a process of promotion from historical, artistic and natural points of view, thus bringing territorial benefits. Film Commissions are entities of different nature (public or private), aimed at attracting audio‐visual productions and providing them with services  (Richieri, 2013). In recent years, they are playing a pivotal role to foster honest relationships between cinema and territory (Croy, 2010; Nicosia, 2015). Dialogue and marketing are the keys to turn potential areas into “locations”, where a process of diversification is activated in order to stimulate innovative economic dynamics (Christopherson and Rightor, 2010; Nicosia, 2012).

Given these premises, the general aims of the session are:

  1. To understand dynamics and social, cultural and economic benefits of Film Commission as “new actors” fostering innovative collaborative territorial dynamics;
  2. To analyze the role of a Film Commission in the process of promoting regional locations to contribute to tourism development and enhancement of local resources;
  3. To suggest policymakers new formula to set up local territorial management;
  4. To pave the way a scientific debate on the synergies between entrepreneurship and research projects to support Film Commission as tools to promote the territorial resources (cultural, historical, natural, ecc).

It is an integrated interdisciplinary session, gathering researches and practices deriving from different disciplines and approaches. Proposals may address these topics from multiple perspectives, including basic research, integrated assessment approaches and policy evaluations.

The session welcomes proposals concerning studies, case studies, best practices and proposals aimed at the construction of regional management strategies beyond the traditional borders in order to consider the audiovisual industry as a possible way to manage the endogenous resources.

The proposals might be submitted by different kind of participants: stakeholders, such as policy makers (local and regional authorities), agents responsible for destination planning, cultural heritage professionals and researchers. Consequently, the session might be organized as a large-scale ‘movie lab’, during which reflect on the present and cooperate to the vision of the future.

Selected References

  • Beeton, S. (2016). Film-Induced Tourism (second edition). Bristol: Channel View Publication.
  • Christopherson, S., Rightor, N. (2010). The creative economy as “big business”: evaluating state strategies to lure filmmakers. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 29(3), 336-352.
  • Croy, W. G. (2010). Planning for Film Tourism: Active Destination Image Management. Tourism and Hospitality Planning & Development, 7(1), 21-30.
  • Nicosia, E. (2012). Cineturismo e Territorio. Un percorso attraverso I luoghi cinematografici. Bologna: Pàtron.
  • Nicosia, E. (2015). The Marche Film Commission: a tool for promoting territorial development and regional tourism. Alma Tourism Special Issue, 4, 161-179.Richieri, G. (2013). Come funziona una Film Commission. In M. Cucco and G.  Richieri, Il mercato delle location cinematografiche (pp.  59‐85). Venezia: Marsilio.

If you are interested in presenting a paper in this session, please submit your abstract of no more than 300 words via the RSA platform by 28th February 2019.

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SS25. SMEs and Family Firms in Urban and Peripheral Areas

Session Organiser(s)

  • Lech Suwala, Technische Universität Berlin, Germany
  • Rodrigo Basco, American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

Despite big business, big data, and big transitions, there are still small and medium enterprises (SMEs), many of which are family firms or so-called hidden champions that serve as the economic backbones of and provide continuity in developed and emerging economies. SMEs and family firms comprise diverse types of businesses, from traditional century-old Japanese dynasties, American family farms, and German Mittelstand to novel Shanghai and Silicon Valley elites. Simultaneously, they are geographically uneven phenomena in terms of their distribution as well as their impact on and interplay with the local, regional, and national levels and beyond, thus requiring more academic attention in the field of regional studies. Against this background, this session aims to open up a profound debate on this often-neglected topic by collecting diverse work on SMEs and/or family businesses in urban and peripheral contexts. We invite scholars from manifold disciplines, such as regional economics, economic geography, family business, management, organization studies, and international business, as well as practitioners from diverse backgrounds to share their interests and to submit their research on the spatiality of SMEs and family firms, particularly in urban and peripheral areas.

Our rationale is to initiate a debate—independent of methodological approach (qualitative or quantitative)—on SMEs and/or family businesses played out in agglomerations and peripheries. Conceptual, empirical, and methodological papers might address, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Conceptual and theoretical debates about the nature of SMEs/family firms and space (i.e. regional familiness, family relatedness in cities and peripheries).
  • Contributions and impacts of SMEs/family firms in agglomerations and peripheries.
  • Specificities in the evolution and trajectories of SMEs/family firms in urban and peripheral areas.
  • Issues related to the place leadership or corporate urban/regional responsibilities of SMEs/ family firms.
  • SME-/family firm–specific issues (succession, governance, reputation, professionalization, etc.) from a spatial perspective.
  • Role of SMEs/family firms in digitalization and platform-based economies and the impact of spaces.

If you are interested in presenting a paper in this session, please submit your abstract of no more than 300 words via the RSA platform by 28 February 2019.

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SS26. Practices and the Regional Economy

Session Organiser(s)

  • Andrew Jones, City, University of London, UK
  • Jim Murphy, Clark University, USA

There has been a growing interest in the nature of economic practices across economic geography, economic sociology, management studies and international business. However, whilst much of this work has been directed towards better understanding of regional economies and their interconnectedness in the global economy, there has only to date been limited direct engagement between these ‘practice-oriented’ approaches within regional science. This session seeks to bring together work that in broad terms is seeking to adopt a practice-oriented approach to regional economic development.

The session invites theoretical or empirical presentations that might included (but are not limited to):

  • Firm-level or corporate practices within and across regional economies;
  • The nature and significance of regional economic regulatory or institutional practices;
  • The intersection of regional economic practices within GPNs;
  • Alternative economic practices and the regional economy;
  • Regional financial practices and their role in regional economic development;
  • How a practice-oriented approach develops new insight into the nature of regional economic success or failure.

Please do not hesitate to contact Andrew Jones ( or Jim Murphy ( for further information. Interested participants should submit an abstract of no more than 200 words via the RSA platform by 28 February 2019.

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SS27. Climate Change, Decarbonization, Clean Energy Transition and Regions

Session Organiser(s)

  • Silvia Grandi, University of Bologna, Italy
  • Marco Percoco, Bocconi University, Italy

New attention to critical raw material such as cobalt and lithium as well as the data on investments in renewable energies highlight that the world is clearly entered in an energy transition path. Global and European climate and energy policies, technological innovations as well as social structural changes call for the need of further research on the complex territorial relationships between energy, natural resources and regions.

This session aims to bring together the latest researches on the relationships between energy, raw material and regional studies. It invites contributions that focus on:

  • Theoretical developments on geography of energy and energy-related raw materials
  • Regional economic impacts of energy transition
  • Policy and instruments for sustainable energy transition
  • Climate and sustainable finance
  • Social acceptance and conflicts in investments and use of energy and raw materials
  • Positive and negative impacts in labour and innovation system in energy transition
  • Regional impacts of energy technological shifts
  • Policies and regional impacts of old technologies phase-outs and decommissioning plans
  • E-vehicle impacts in regional planning and energy demand
  • Geographical information system, big data, quantitative models
  • Regional implications in energy raw material shift and changes
  • Significant case studies on impact, policies and instruments of energy transition at regional level

Should you need more information, please do not hesitate to contact Silvia Grandi ( and Marco Percoco (

If you are interested in presenting a paper in this session, please submit your abstract of no more than 300 words via the RSA platform by 28th February 2019.

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SS28. Smart Specialisation at the Margins

Session Organiser(s)

  • Sana Elouaer-Mrizak, Université du Littoral Côte D’Opale, France
  • Adrian Healy, Cardiff University, UK

Smart Specialisation policy aims to stimulate growth and development of European regions, and, it is argued to reduce economic disparities. This policy’s goal is to develop regional innovation systems and apply a place-based approach for economic development.  Moreover, developing a Research and Innovation strategy for Smart Specialisation (RIS3) has been a necessary precondition for the receipt of ERDF funding for innovation activities from the EU’s Cohesion funds.

The Smart Specialisation approach contends that countries and regions should identify their competitive advantages through constructive benchmarking, mapping their national and the international context in search of examples to learn from and performing effective collaborations. In other words, each country/region should detect relevant linkages and flows of goods, services and knowledge defining possible patterns of alliance with partner regions (Foray et al. 2012),.

The introduction of the smart specialisation concept has spawned a vigorous debate around its application in practice, most particularly in its applicability to regions which are advanced in their economic development and those that are less developed. The question of the positionality of regions, and constituent industries, has received somewhat less attention, despite the suggestion that geography plays a role in shaping economic outcomes (Ketterer and Rodriguez-Pose, 2016).  This session will address the role of positionality in smart specialisation, focusing on those regions that are considered to be positioned at the margins or on the periphery.  Examples might include inner peripheries, borderlands, regions in the European Neighbourhood and circumpolar regions.

If you are interested in presenting a paper in this session, please submit your abstract of no more than 300 words via the RSA platform by 28th February 2019.

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SS29. Borders in Motion in China’s ‘Radiation’ Center, Yunnan Province (Closed session for submissions but open for everyone to attend)

Session Organiser(s)

  • Victor Conrad, Carleton University, Canada

This special session focuses on the processes of rapid change in the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan. The contributors all link their presentations to an emerging theory of borders in relational motion with other aspects of the geography of growth and development, and the geopolitics surrounding these processes. Martin van der Velde addresses aspects of cross-border migration. Jussi Laine examines the multi-scalar dimensions of bordering in the region. Tom Ptak evaluates the contribution of energy development. Victor Konrad assesses the central role of Kunming as a provincial and regional growth and articulation center. The presentations will be brief to enable a general discussion on borders in relational motion, first among the presenters, and then with the audience.

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SS30. Regional Economic and Policy History (Closed session for submissions but open for everyone to attend)

Session Organiser(s)

  • RSA Research Network on Regional Economic and Policy History

What is the use of spanning the gap between Regional Studies and History? Firstly, bridging the gap revitalizes an older theme in the study of History, that of regional development and raises its societal relevance as well. Secondly, pulling History into Regional Studies strengthens the explanatory power of this multidisciplinary field. Within short, these are the insights gathered by the RSA Research Network on Regional Economic and Policy History (ReHi). In 2017 and 2018, five international workshops were organized, in which the connections between both academic fields were explored. In the format of a ‘Round Table’, we will look back on the themes and questions we have touched upon. As such, the ReHi-network will be closed off during the conference.

Before the discussion starts, the chairs will give a presentation about the ReHi-network. They will sketch a research agenda called ‘New Regional History’ which gives directions to a more concrete follow-up of the network. This agenda will be illustrated with concrete project ideas in which the drivers of inequality in cities and regions, as well as the initiatives to combat these inequalities, should be researched from a longer time perspective. After this presentation, four experienced researchers will reflect on these ideas, and share their own beliefs about why it is important to bridge the gap between History and Regional Studies.

Chairs and presenters of the ReHi-network:

  • Sara Svensson, CEU Budapest, Hungary
  • Marijn Molema, Fryske Academy/Royal Netherlands of Arts & Science, The Netherlands


    • Martin Henning, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
    • Anssi Paasi, University of Oulo, Finland
    • Jesus Valdaliso, University of the Basque Country, Spain
    • Andy Pike, Newcastle University, UK

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SS31. Spatial Disparities and Regional Policies (Closed session for submissions but open for everyone to attend)

Session Organiser(s)

  • Domenica Panzera and Alfredo Cartone, University G. d’Annunzio of Chieti-Pescara, Italy

A relevant challenge for the correct setting of regional development policies is constituted by the assessment of potential spatial patterns in the dynamic of inequalities (e.g. Paredes et al. 2016).

Social and economic disparities, income inequalities, and differences in growth rate represent all current phenomena that jeopardize the cohesion of the European Union. Hence, evaluating the geography of those phenomena help to shed more light in order to build a more effective policy implementation.

This session aims at evaluating spatial patterns (Panzera and Postiglione 2015) in income inequalities and regional disparities and potential presence of spatial effects. In fact, spatial inequality measures could represent a class of indicator able to take into account geographical position of units at a selected spatial scale and improve informative potential of classical inequality measure (e.g. standard concentration measures, Màrquez et al. 2017).

Contributions refer both to innovative methodological tools for assessing spatial patterns and to relevant applications in the European case. A major focus is on the improvement of actual policies by considering spatial dimension.


  • Márquez, M. A., Lasarte, E., & Lufin, M. (2017). The Role of Neighborhood in the Analysis of   Spatial Economic Inequality. Social Indicators Research, 1-29.
  • Panzera, D., & Postiglione, P. (2015, August). Economic inequality, spatial scale, and spatial concentration. In Statistics and Demography: the Legacy of Corrado Gini.
  • Paredes, D., Iturra, V., & Lufin, M. (2016). A spatial decomposition of income inequality in Chile. Regional Studies, 50: 771-789.

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SS32. Managing Shrinking Cities: A Global Perspective with Recent Evidence

Session Organiser(s)

  • Sylvia Ying He, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China

Shrinking cities is a global phenomenon (Richardson and Nam, 2014). Due to different declining pathways, shrinking cities have been managed under different strategies. In particular, economic revitalization and regeneration has been a common theme for the urban redevelopment of shrinking cities. Have these economic and incentives programs worked? Have social and environmental aspects been also considered during the revitalization process? Or shall we actually embrace urban shrinkage under certain circumstances? In this special session, we would like to invite researchers from different countries and regions to share the latest experience and evidence facing shrinking cities, through which we aim to develop new perspectives of shrinking cities and innovative approaches for urban regeneration. Both qualitative and quantitative studies are welcome to present in this session. Selected presentations will be invited to submit full papers for publication consideration in an edited book or a special issue.

If you are interested in presenting a paper in this session, please submit your abstract of no more than 300 words via the RSA platform by 28th February 2019.

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SS33. Regional Planning: Interests, Institutions and Relations

Session Organiser(s)

  • Raine Mäntysalo, Professor, Aalto University, Finland (
  • Alois Humer, Postdoctoral Researcher, Aalto University, Finland (
  • Eva Purkarthofer, Postdoctoral Researcher, Aalto University, Finland (
  • Valeria Lingua, Associate Professor, University of Florence, Italy (
  • Daniel Galland, Associate Professor, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norway (

This special session invites contributions at the intersection of planning research and regional studies. We seek to approach the complexity of regional planning from three perspectives. The perspective of ‘interests’ in regional planning reveals the various underlying motivations constituting and framing regional planning. Interests related to regional planning can be derived from different tiers of government, such as local, national or EU level, as well as from different ideologies, including agendas of globalization or neoliberalism and concerns related to environmental, democratic or public interests. The perspective of ‘institutions’ addresses the encounter of formal and informal planning and governance practices at the regional scale. In many countries, regional planning is characterised by the mutual existence of established processes stipulated in the law and new, innovative and sometimes experimental initiatives of regional cooperation. Other countries experience a move from more formalised towards more flexible regional planning, or vice versa. The perspective of ‘relations’ discusses the complex constellations of actors and processes associated with regional planning as well as the vertical and horizontal connections between regional planning and other scales and sectors. Regional planning serves as intermediary between the local and the national, while at the same time bringing together different themes and sectoral policies, such as labour markets, educational, social and health provision, mobility and industry.

In this special session we aim to discuss the region as a strategic planning level, characterised by a clash of different interests, changing institutional settings and complex inter-scalar and inter-sectoral relations. We welcome theoretical, conceptual and empirical contributions addressing issues related to regional planning and regional governance.

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