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Digital platforms and regional development

In recent years, digital platforms have caused great changes in people’s daily lives, in consumption and in production, and hence in regional development, which has led to the emergence of new phenomena and concepts such as platform urbanism, platform economy, platform ecology and digipreneurs. With the power of the internet, digital platforms are both a new space for certain new industry’s activities in regional economies (e.g. digital content industry, mobile games, live streaming industry, online retail, online hailing etc.), as well as an important infrastructure and actor bridging a variety of economic activities in virtual space and physical regions. Despite some interesting recent studies on the implications of digitization for regional development, the digitalization of asset modification, and the role of digitalization for path renewal, that literature does not pay much explicit attention to the effects of the digital platform economy on regional development. Moreover, theoretical concepts in economic geography, often developed in the pre-digital era and hence paying much attention to the effects of agglomeration economies, spatial proximity and trust-based networks on regional development, are insufficiently challenged by the characteristics of the digital platform economy, which differ from the conventional economy on which many theoretical concepts are based.

This special issue therefore focuses both on the role that digital platforms play in influencing regional economies and on challenging theoretical concepts in economic geography. It aims at exploring this theme from three perspectives.

The first perspective focuses on how the platform economy enters and interferes with existing regional industries and regional industrial chains. Does that affect the regional economy in a positive or negative way? What do regional governments need to do to leverage the platform or combine the platform and regional agency and how do platforms interact with local formal and informal agencies?

The second perspective focuses on how innovation and entrepreneurial opportunities are regionally discovered through the platform. Numerous innovative startups in regional economies integrate and connect different resources through digital platforms, in countries like China, thus maximizing the connection between the production side and the consumer side.

The third perspective is theoretical in nature and challenges existing theoretical concepts. Several concepts in economic geography and regional studies explaining regional economic development emerged in the pre-digital time, such as clusters, regional innovation systems, entrepreneurial ecosystems, and path creation, and are partly because of that still used without much reference to the digital platform economy. The digital platform economy is characterized by several features that are in contrast to assumptions made for theoretical concepts in economic geography and regional studies. Instant reputation is, for instance, more important than long-term trust relations. What does that mean? Are the conventional theoretical concepts now irrelevant? Or are they still relevant, but do we have to change their main theoretical assumptions? In some cases, the concepts have been adapted to the new digital reality, such as the cases of virtual clusters and digital entrepreneurial ecosystems, in other cases the implications for the concept have been discussed, such as with smart specialization. Moreover, the dichotomized view of core-periphery has been challenged by the digital platform economy, allowing new opportunities in regions with previously hardly any chance of development.

We welcome papers both empirical, theoretical and policy-related papers, as well as comparative papers, on regional development in industrialized, emerging and developing economies. All papers must also engage thoroughly with the regional studies literature around these issues.

Submission Instructions

A cover letter and separate abstract of 500 words max. (including key references) must be submitted by e-mail to the Guest Editors by October 1st 2023. The Guest Editors’ contact information is listed above. Contact details and affiliations of the corresponding author – and any co-authors – should be clearly stated in the cover letter/e-mail.

Selected authors will be invited to submit full papers for peer review based on abstract submission. Full submissions will be subject to the journal’s usual peer review process.



View T&F CfP page

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