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Call for Papers

Changing industrial organization in space

There has been a keen recent interest in economic geography and related disciplines in understanding the sources, processes and determinants of economic diversification and transformation of regions. This interest is grounded in part in the experience that formerly successful regions face in the struggle to recreate themselves. This requirement of regional transformation is not unique to regions down on their luck; even the most vibrant urban or regional economies and their key clusters require an ongoing churn of activities as a means of maintaining their edge in the global economy. This fundamental dynamic still remains insufficiently understood and vital questions remain unanswered regarding relevant drivers, dimensions and determinants, as well as policy facilitation, of successful transformation. It is also debateable what the theoretical tools are that best capture these dynamics. Considering contemporary global economic, social, political, and ecological turbulence, these questions are not only academically intriguing, but answers to them will be critical for private and public agents, as well as civil society.

Many existing studies or models analyzing regional transformation are descriptive by nature (e.g., the prevalent life cycle models, or loosely conceptualized empirical accounts), and thereby fail to provide deeper insight regarding causality. Or else, theoretical attempts to apprehend regional transformation (e.g., the prevalent applications of evolutionary and institutional approaches) focus only on selected dimensions of the process and thereby offer partial accounts. This is not a problem per se. Diverse theoretical and methodological approaches are needed to build a comprehensive understanding of the complex real-world processes. What is an impediment to explanatory progress, however, is that insufficient effort has been put in discussing the differences in these approaches and in bringing them together to provide a fuller understanding of how transformation takes place. This is imperative as the transformation process is a result of the conjoined operation of multiple causal mechanisms, presently probed separately in partial theorizations, focusing on one or a few dimensions of the process.

To study transformation we also need to grasp what it is that we are explaining; we need to spell out what is regional transformation. Not all change is transformative change, so we need to start with an account of transformation that apprehends the idea that the process takes a regional economy, or significant parts of it, through a major qualitative change in the bases of regional competitiveness. These considerations motivate the present special issue; the need to put effort into understanding the inescapably multi-perspectival and inter-theoretic challenge in analyzing the complex process of regional transformation. It will hopefully be able to demonstrate that many of the narrower approaches or perspectives currently discussed in the literature are actually compatible – that is, they are founded on theoretical premises that do not fundamentally contradict each other – and can be considered together to provide a more comprehensive theoretical approach to transformation.

Guidelines for submissions

Authors interested in contributing to this special issue are invited to submit Abstracts of up to 400 words by email to Francis Knights at landecon-cjres@lists.cam.ac.uk no later than 1 April 2017. Authors will be invited to submit papers following the Editors’ selection from these Abstracts. Full papers would be due by 1 September 2017, and all submissions will be subject to the normal formal peer review process. Accepted papers would be included in the special issue, to be published in July 2018.

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