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2018 RSA Global Conference in China

Regional Governance, Industrial Restructuring and Sustainable Development

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

There are two types of Special Sessions:

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

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

SS1. Creative Industry Clusters in East Asia

Session organiser(s)

Huiwen Gong, Kiel University, Germany Robert Hassink, Kiel University, Germany Chun Yang, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong, China

During the last decades, economic geographers have become increasingly interested in creative industries, the creative economy, creative cities, as well as the creative class. In addition to this increasing academic interest, testified by several recent special issues in economic geography journals, also policy-makers at several spatial levels (urban, regional, national, as well as supranational) try to find ways how to foster creative industries. These phenomena can also be observed in East Asia and there are now legion of studies on creative industry clusters in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and China. Many studies focused both on the economic functions of creative industries, mainly in terms of labor, value-added production, and exports, as well as on their current organizational features. From a geographical perspective, this session aims at two main strands of papers. First, it invites papers exploring the agglomeration and clustering of creative industries in East Asia, as well as papers explaining the evolution of these creative industry clusters. This strand of papers also deals with labor market issues, project ecologies, temporary clusters, field-configuring events, co-working spaces and creative labs, creativity and knowledge production, and creative cities and creative regions. Secondly, it invites papers analyzing creative industries in East Asia from a globalization or global production networks’ perspective. These papers might deal with TNCs, foreign direct investment and creative industries in East Asia, strategic coupling and creative industries in East Asia, the position of East Asia’s creative industry clusters in global production networks, and international migration and creative industries in East Asia. We welcome both empirical, theoretical, as well as policy-related papers. The focus can be both on creative industries in general or any individual creative industry, such as publishing and literature, performing arts, music, film, video and photography, broadcasting, design, fashion, visual arts, advertising, computer games and interactive media, as well as on creative jobs.

Submission guidelines

Please submit proposals for papers in the form of a 250-word abstract (text only) through the RSA conference portal. Proposals will be considered by the session organisers against the criteria of originality, interest and subject balance.

SS2. Exploring the Restructuring of Mature Industry Clusters in East Asia

Session organiser(s)

Robert Hassink, Kiel University, Germany Xiaohui Hu, Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics, China Natsuki Kamakura, The University of Tokyo, Japan East Asia is currently considered to be the most dynamic economic region in the world, which has been caused by a shift of manufacturing industry from Japan, the first industrializing nation in East Asia, to neighboring Taiwan, South Korea and China, and more recently to countries in South East Asia. This shift has been accompanied by restructuring problems and policies in traditional and mature industry clusters in the different economies of East Asia (Hassink et al. 2017). At the same time, these clusters have become increasingly interconnected due to the increasing economic integration in East Asia. Investment and trade flows have intensified between East Asian economies where mature industry clusters are not only embedded in global production networks, but increasingly also in East Asian production networks (Aoyama 2016). The restructuring of mature industry clusters is also strongly affected by differing industry and innovation policies at the national and regional level. These policies might also support industrial efficiency through Industry 4.0 or similar industry-transformation strategies (e.g. in particular, tenglong huanniao; jiqi huanren; and tese xiaozhen in China).

Against this background, we aim at exploring restructuring processes and policies in mature industry clusters in East Asia, as well as their similarities and differences. Theoretically, we particularly welcome papers working with both evolutionary concepts (Boschma and Frenken 2018), such as path dependence, path creation, lock-ins, adaptability and resilience, concepts around global production networks and strategic coupling (Coe and Yeung 2016), as well as concepts embedded in the broader integrative paradigm of economic geography (Hassink and Gong 2017). Potential topics on the restructuring of mature industry clusters in East Asia include but are not limited to the following:

  • regional path dependence, lock-in/out, path creation and path plasticity
  • related and unrelated variety, regional economic diversity and specialization, smart specialization
  • adaptation, adaptability and regional economic resilience
  • institutions, institutional change, multi-scalar policies and politics
  • developmental, post-developmental state and restructuring
  • state-owned enterprises and restructuring
  • human agency, collective action, place leadership
  • the dynamics of inter-firm networks, global production networks, strategic coupling
  • upgrading and downgrading processes (Zhu & Pickles 2014)
  • Industry 4.0, digitalization, robotic manufacturing
  • Specialty Town Strategy and regional cluster evolution in China
  • labor dynamics, mobility, social agency and cluster development

Based on the presentations, we aim at publishing a special issue in a SSCI journal.


Aoyama, Y. (2016). Reorienting the drivers of development: alternative paradigms. Area Development and Policy, 1, 295-304. Boschma, R., Frenken, K. (2018) Evolutionary Economic Geography. In G. Clark, M. Gertler, M. P. Feldman, D. Wójcik (eds) The New Oxford Handbook of Economic Geography. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Coe, N.M., Yeung, H.W.C. (2015). Global production networks: Theorizing economic development in an interconnected world. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Hassink, R., Gong, H. (2017). Sketching the Contours of an Integrative Paradigm of Economic Geography. Lund: CIRCLE, Papers in Innovation Studies, Paper no. 2017/12. Hassink, R., Hu, X., Shin, D. H., Yamamura, S., & Gong, H. (2017). The restructuring of old industrial areas in East Asia. Area Development and Policy, 1-18. Zhu, S., Pickles, J. (2014). Bring in, go up, go west, go out: Upgrading, regionalisation and delocalisation in China’s apparel production networks. Journal of Contemporary Asia, 44(1), 36-63.

Submission guidelines

Please submit proposals for papers in the form of a 250-word abstract (text only) through the RSA conference portal. Proposals will be considered by the session organisers against the criteria of originality, interest and subject balance.

SS3. Tourism and Evolutionary Economic Geography

Session organiser(s)

Mulan Ma, Shanghai University of International Business and Economics, China Robert Hassink, Kiel University, Germany

In recent years, evolutionary economic geography has emerged as a new paradigm of economic geography focusing on how the spatial economy transforms itself through irreversible and dynamic processes from within over time (Boschma & Frenken, 2006, 2018). Some evolutionary concepts and approaches of evolutionary economic geography, such as ‘path dependence’, ‘lock-ins’, ‘novelty’, ‘path plasticity’, ‘path creation’ and ‘co-evolution’, are gradually incorporated to analyze or tackle key questions in tourism. According to recent research, there are now over 30 publications explicitly linking tourism issues to evolutionary ideas in economic geography, both conceptual papers and detailed case studies on tourism in certain areas, such as rural areas, urban areas and on certain tourism products (Brouder, 2017; Brouder et al. 2017; Ma & Hassink, 2013). Tourism, therefore, appears to lend itself particularly well to an evolutionary economic geography empirical approach (Brouder, 2014).

The session aims to discuss the relationships between tourism and evolutionary economic geography. It welcomes theoretically informed or empirically driven case studies focusing on the relationships between evolutionary economic geography and tourism in local and regional development contexts. It also welcomes papers with a critical view on the relationship between tourism and evolutionary economic geography.

We are seeking papers that include, but are not limited to the following topics:

  • Path dependence and tourism
  • Co-evolution and tourism area development
  • Resilience and tourism development
  • Complexity and tourism development
  • Adaptive system and tourism development
  • Regional innovation system and tourism


Boschma, R. A., & Frenken, K. (2006). Why is economic geography not anevolutionary science? Towards an evolutionary economic geography.Journal ofEconomic Geography, 6, 273–302. Boschma, R.,& Frenken, K. (2018). Evolutionary Economic Geography. In G. Clark, M. Gertler, M. P. Feldman, D. Wójcik (eds.),The New Oxford Handbook of Economic Geography. Oxford: Oxford University Press Brouder, P. (2014). Evolutionary economic geography: A new path for tourism studies? Tourism Geographies, 16(1), 2–7. Brouder, P. (2017) Evolutionary economic geography: reflections from a sustainable tourism perspective, Tourism Geographies, 19:3, 438-447. Brouder, P., Anton Clavé, S., Gill, A., & Ioannides, D. (Eds.). (2017). Tourism Destination Evolution. London: Routledge. Ma, M., & Hassink, R. (2013). An evolutionary perspective on tourism area development. Annals of Tourism Research, 41, 89–109.

Submission guidelines

Please submit proposals for papers in the form of a 250-word abstract (text only) through the RSA conference portal. Proposals will be considered by the session organisers against the criteria of originality, interest and subject balance.

SS4. Multiscalar and Dynamic Borderlands of Southwest China

The View from Yunnan Province

Session organiser(s)

Tom Ptak, University of Idaho, USA

Closed Session (Non presenting delegates are welcome to attend)

Speakers Tom Ptak, University of Idaho, USA Hu Zhiding, Yunnan Normal University, China Victor Konrad, Carleton University, Canada Liu Yuli, Beijing Normal University, China Jussi Laine, University of Eastern Finland, Finland Martin van der Velde, Radboud University, The Netherlands

Dynamic processes, phenomena and responses emanating in and across China’s southwest borderlands are insufficiently understood and represented spatially. This problem exists in part because extensive development of infrastructure and economic expansion in the region is comparatively recent, dynamic while manifesting at multiple scales. Places and spaces once highly insulated and localized, now are linked to regional, national, and even global initiatives orchestrated by agents of central, provincial and local governments. Change is occurring at a massive scale in a very short time. Access to once remote and overlooked borderlands shared with Vietnam, Laos and particularly Myanmar, are now within hours reach of the provincial capital and rapidly expanding metropolis of Kunming. Some results of these changes range from environmental impacts of rapid development, to population shifts into and out of the borderlands, accelerated modernization with social and cultural consequences, focused development in selected corridors and isolation of interstitial areas, spotlighting ethnic minorities and altering cultural traditions, unmanaged urban growth in the borderlands city hierarchy, cross-border labor migration, uneven housing and community infrastructure provision, security concerns related to expanding externalities, social fabric and health concerns, and agricultural adjustment. Understanding the range of vast and complex processes/responses to the changes requires an expansive and integrated research framework based on recent developments in social science theory and empirical research in borderlands. This session will provide key insights into China’s Southwest borderland dynamics by advancing theories of borders and borderlands through recently completed collaborative research and synthesis in this evolving and dynamic region.

SS5. Geo-political Economic Changes and the Socio-spatial Restructuring of Old Industrial Cities in East Asia

Session organiser(s)

Bae-Gyoon Park, Seoul National University, South Korea Jinn-yuh Hsu, National Taiwan University, Taiwan, China

It was in the 1960s and the 1970s when East Asia was emerging as a newly industrializing region, while the old industrial regions and countries in Western Europe and North America were declining. The rapid economic growth in East Asia at that time was accompanied by the growth of various industrial cities and towns, including Gumi, Masan, Changwon, and Pohang in South Korea, Kaohsiung in Taiwan, Kitakyushu in Japan, and so on. While these industrial cities were grown up under the US-led cross-pacific cold war geopolitical networks and international division of labor, some Chinese cities (e.g. Shenyang, Dalian, Harbin, Changchun, Anshan, etc.) in Northeast China, one of the earliest industrialized regions in China during the era of Manchukuo, had experienced industrial development and economic growth since the 1950s under the influences of colonial industrialization and the ‘Soviet-China-North Korea’ geo-political economic alliances. Since the late 1990s, however, all these industrial cities in East Asia have been facing serious challenges related to industrial decline and economic stagnation with the changes in the international division of labor and the geopolitical economic conditions.

The existing studies on industrial cities and regions tend to view the growth or decline of industrial towns either in terms of market logics or in relation to the government’s industrial and regional policies. This session, however, aims at collecting papers addressing the changes of East Asian industrial cities in terms of much broader and multi-layered contexts and processes. In particular, it tries to connect the growth and decline of the East Asian industrial cities to the legacies of Japanese colonialism, the cold war and post-cold war geo-political economies, trans-territorial flows of people, power, and knowledges, multi-scalar politics of local growth coalitions, power relations and struggles among various social forces related to different class interests and identities of capital, labor and the state, and so on. In addition, this session wants to bring papers suggesting alternative developmental paths for the declining old industrial cities in East Asia.

Submission guidelines

Please submit proposals for papers in the form of a 250-word abstract (text only) through the RSA conference portal. Proposals will be considered by the session organisers against the criteria of originality, interest and subject balance.

SS6. New Models of Knowledge-based Urban Production

Session organiser(s)

Julie Tian Miao, University of Glasgow, UK Cassandra C. Wang, Zhenjiang University, China Nicholas Phelps, University College London, UK

Ever since the explicit recognition of knowledge and technology advances in boosting economic production in the neoclassical development model, scholars from both the orthodox and heterodox traditions are increasingly drawn into the functions and dynamics of knowledge production, its geographical diffusion and its institutional underpinnings and political rationale. Economic geographers and regional studies scholars have been the champions in advancing our understanding of knowledge and knowledge geography. Useful distinctions, for example, have been made between knowledge and information, and within the former between analytical and synthetic knowledge. It is also noticed that knowledge-based industries and activities exhibited a higher tendency for spatial agglomeration compared to traditional industries. There are a few global knowledge hubs emerging, some of which overlap with global cities, but many tend out to be small towns that happen to host prominent universities, research institutions and R&D headquarters of large multinational corporations. The extant academic and policy literature on agglomeration nonetheless also implies that ever-growing numbers of companies, transportation infrastructure, population and service industries might quickly challenge the limited supply of land, housing and the supporting threshold of environmental capability. This immediately calls upon urban geographers and regional studies scholars for a conjoined effort in balancing economic and urban development.

On the other side of the story, technology advance also brings opportunities to those peripheral localities and traditional industries who have long been suffering from processes of brain drain and from low economic efficiency. China for example, is one of the beneficiaries and now an active promotor of the new information economy. E-commerce and logistics, for example, are two of the fastest growing industries in this country. Four corresponding changes are highly noticeable yet discussed separately and fragmentally in different disciplines. First is the transformation of production and reproduction and the emerging of new labour division in rural areas. E-commerce for example, has offered young farmers the platforms to marketing agricultural goods produced by their older generations and even migrates. Second is the construction of ICT-enabled and ICT-focused industrial parks or new towns in urban fringes. The widespread ICT has facilitated the mushrooming of integrated urban designs that centre on life-work balance beyond established urban boundaries. Third is the revitalisation of traditional, often low-tech industries into more innovative and competitive operators on the market. Yet the crucial questions regarding copyright protection, vicious competition and information asymmetry etc. are still open for debate. The last trend relates to the increasing brain circulation between China and those leading knowledge hubs in the world. The huge scale of the Chinese diaspora brings opportunities for further technology growth but also challenges the existing institutional architecture, business practices and urban configurations.

Against these backgrounds, we aim at exploring the interfaces between knowledge geography and new modes of urban production from a global and local perspective. Theoretically, we welcome papers working with innovation geography, knowledge economy and urban geography in general, but we particularly encourage cross-disciplinary approaches that bring together perspectives from, for example, geography, sociology, anthropology and urban studies. Potential topics include but are not limited to:

  • E-commerce dynamics, geography and consequence
  • New rural development enabled by new technologies and growth models
  • Urban-rural fringe configuration and reconfiguration
  • Industrial parks, incubators, co-working spaces and featured towns
  • Industry-City integrated development (‘chancheng yonghe’) in China
  • Chinese diaspora and their roles in knowledge geography and urban development
  • Opportunities and Challenges of new business models on urban development
  • Opportunities and Challenges of new business models to individual, family and society at large
  • Opportunities and Challenges of new business models to environmental sustainability

Submission guidelines

Please submit proposals for papers in the form of a 250-word abstract (text only) through the RSA conference portal. Proposals will be considered by the session organisers against the criteria of originality, interest and subject balance.

SS7. Launch of RSA E-Zine & Publishing Tips

Session organiser(s)

Julie Tian Miao, University of Glasgow, UK

This special session will celebrate the launch and the first issue of RSA’s first e-journal – Regions E-Zine, through an interactive introduction and Q/A activities. Its editors as well as the CEO of RSA will outline the aim, structure, and exciting features of this new journal, and invite audience to contribute to and share your thoughts on expanding its coverage and leveraging its impact. To broaden this discussion and to bring value to participants, especially to students and early career scholars, this session will also feature a ‘tip-giving’ from journal editors and experienced reviewers on publishing good quality journal papers. More socialising opportunities will be offered in a relaxing and interactive atmosphere afterwards when audience could further engage with editors and peers.

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