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Regional Studies is a leading international journal covering the development of theories and concepts, empirical analysis, and policy debate in the field of regional studies. The journal publishes original research spanning the economic, social, political, and environmental dimensions of urban and regional (subnational) change.’

Within cities and regions and across both coterminous (land) and non-coterminous (sea/river/lake) borders around the world, approaches to leadership that aim to stimulate collaborative problem solving – and to enable transnational knowledge exchange and learning for mutual benefit – have been a longstanding feature of sub-national development. However, the strategic and operational conditions for the ‘work’ of leadership within and across borders at the sub-national scale are not immune from new and emerging ‘grand challenges’ across economy, society, and the environment. The combined impacts of rapid climate change and net zero energy transformations, health pandemics, the AI/digital economy and related technologies, human migration, trans-frontier labour markets, identity politics, increased political insecurity and war are creating a context for leadership that is fluid and disrupted. The new complexities and policy demands are substantial for those in both formal and informal leaders(hip) roles.

Through this special issue we are seeking to encourage inter-disciplinary discussion and to advance debate around understandings and explanations of the many experiences of leaders(hip) both within and across a wide variety of city and regional development settings around the world. We anticipate that the papers selected for this special issue of Regional Studies will introduce original insights about place leaders(hip) from around the world and from across city and regional development studies, economic and human/social geography, policy and public administration and cross-border studies.

Papers may use qualitative, quantitative and/or merged methods. They will introduce new data and will be theoretically well grounded, methodologically rigorous and will make a strong and original contribution to related debates and discussions in contemporary city and regional development literature. Papers may address, for example, the following types of questions: What is changing in the world of sub-national leadership? How is it changing, and why? What are the implications of the new and uncertain contexts and local circumstances for leadership in both local and transborder/transnational settings? What are leaders actually ‘doing’ in these changing contexts? What difference is leadership (and leaders) making (if any) and how? How is sub-national leadership in these settings being experienced by ‘leaders’ and ‘followers’ (accepted and/or resisted)? What does the new learning in papers mean for the theory/conceptualisation and enactment of sub-national leadership in local and transborder/transnational development settings? What are the next generation of sub-national (place) leadership research questions that we might address as a priority?

Papers can choose to explore questions related to the theory, conceptualisation and/or experiences of diverse kinds of leadership approaches in local case settings – or in wider transborder or transnational city and regional development settings.



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