‘Structural Change and the Economic Evolution of Cities and Regions’

Special session at 2017 AAG annual meeting, Boston, April 5-9 2017 (www.aag.org/cs/annualmeeting <http://www.aag.org/cs/annualmeeting>)

Ron Martin, University of Cambridge

Pete Tyler, University of Cambridge

Emil Evenhuis, University of Cambridge

Susan Christopherson, Cornell University

Amy Glasmeier, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Ben Gardiner, University of Cambridge and Cambridge Econometrics

David Bailey, Aston University

Peter Sunley, University of Southampton

Andy Pike, Newcastle University

Historically, the long-run economic development paths of cities and regions show a particular tenacity over time, with some cities and regions exhibiting fast growth over longer periods, while other cities and regions slip into a trajectory of relative and sometimes absolute decline (Blanchard and Katz, 1992; Gardiner et al., 2013; Moretti, 2013; Pike et al., 2016). Nevertheless, turn-arounds are also witnessed, with some lagging cities and regions finding renewed growth, and vice versa, previously buoyant cities and regions losing momentum (Birch et al., 2010; Hobor, 2013; Cowell, 2015). It appears that structural changes in the economy benefit some cities and regions, and put others at a disadvantage. The set of existing economic - and also political - activities and functions in a city or region is crucial in this respect, and will determine whether a city or region can be at the forefront of such changes, can position itself to benefit from new rounds of investment, or instead will lose out and become marginalised. The variety in the evolution of cities and regions in the context of continuous structural changes (albeit at times accelerating), defies predictions of a clear-cut convergence or divergence, and instead leads to an intricate pattern of uneven development depending on a multitude of factors (Storper et al., 2015; Martin et al., 2016). Such combined and uneven development between cities and regions has of course long been a central research topic within economic geography and regional / urban studies (e.g. Fothergill and Gudgin, 1982; Harvey, 1982; Massey, 1984; Hudson, 1989; Storper and Walker, 1989).

The aim of this session is to give a new impetus to the conceptualisation and empirical exploration of the evolution of - and between - cities and regions in the context of structural change in the economy. We consider this particularly timely for a number of reasons. Firstly, cities and city-regions have assumed increasing prominence over the past decades in discussions about economic growth and prosperity, and with this there is a renewed interest in explaining deep-rooted differences in performance. Secondly, evolutionary approaches, ‘resilience thinking’, and ‘transitions to sustainable development’ have established themselves as key reference points in the past 15 years (alongside older frameworks, such as political economy perspectives and institutionalism) in theorising current economic, societal and environmental challenges. Yet more work remains to be done to further develop these conceptual advances for understanding the long-run evolution of cities and regions, and for working out concomitant policy recommendations. Thirdly, even though some very valuable comparative work (both qualitative and quantitative) has come out in recent years, most studies have had a limited geographical reach (e.g. with a focus on the US, UK, Germany, or Europe, let alone other parts of the world). Hence, there appears scope for improved interaction between scholars from different parts of the globe.

We invite paper submissions which take on the theme of the economic evolution of cities and region in the context of structural change. Research questions and issues could include (but are not limited to):

·The conceptualisation of how cities and regions cope with structural changes in the economy (through e.g. evolutionary approaches, concepts from the literature on sustainability transitions, long wave theories, etc.).

·The choice of key indicators, research designs, and analytical techniques. This can range from a more philosophical and normative discussions (e.g. what constitutes success or lack of success? how can we move beyond ‘competitiveness’ as a normative ideal?), to more methodological and technical suggestions (e.g. regarding measures of specialisation and variety, modelling patterns of continuity and change in the economic base of cities and regions, frameworks for comparative case study work, typologies of different kinds of cities and regions, etc.).

·The relative importance of, and interplay between, different factors which determine the long-run development paths of cities and regions: the sectoral make-up of the economy in a city or region, the concentration of economic and political functions (e.g. HQs, R&D, branch plants, regulation, finance, etc.), innovation, entrepreneurship, productivity, human capital, agglomeration, legacies from earlier rounds of investment, local leadership and governance, etc.

·The multi-scalar and relational nature of the structures and processes that shape the development of – and between – cities and regions.

·The geographical particularities and commonalities of how cities and regions cope with economic change in different countries and different parts of the world.

Please submit a 250-word abstract with title to Emil Evenhuis (ee...@cam.ac.uk <mailto:ee...@cam.ac.uk>) by *14th October 2016*. Participants will be notified of acceptance by October 21th; after which they need to register for the conference and upload their abstract, and provide us with their PIN (before the registration deadline of October 27th).


·Birch, K., MacKinnon, D. and Cumbers, A. (2010) 'Old Industrial Regions in Europe: A Comparative Assessment of Economic Performance', /Regional Studies/, 44, (1), pp. 35-53.

·Blanchard, O. J. and L. Katz (1992): ‘Regional Evolutions’, /Brookings Papers on Economic Activity/, 1, pp. 1-61.

·Cowell, M. M. (2015) /Dealing with Deindustrialization: Adaptive Resilience in American Midwestern Regions/. Routledge: London.

·Fothergill, F. and G. Gudgin (1982): /Unequal Growth: Urban and Regional Employment Change in the U.K/. Heinemann Educational Books: London.

·Gardiner, B., R. Martin, P. Sunley, P. Tyler (2013), ‘Spatially Unbalanced Growth in the British Economy’, /Journal of Economic Geography/, 13, (6), pp. 889–928

·Harvey, D. (1982) /The Limits to Capital/. Blackwell: Oxford.

·Hobor, G. (2013) 'Surviving the Era of Deindustrialization: The New Economic Geography of the Urban Rust Belt', /Journal of Urban Affairs/, 35, (4), pp. 417-434.

·Hudson, R. (1989) /Wrecking a Region: State Policies, Party Politics, and Regional Change in North East England/. Pion: London.

·Massey, D. (1984): /Spatial Divisions of Labour: Social Structures and the Geography of Production/. Methuen: New York, NY.

·Martin, R., P. Sunley, P. Tyler, and B. Gardiner (2016): ‘Divergent Cities in Post-Industrial Britain’, /Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society/, 9, (2), pp. 269-299.

·Moretti, E. (2013): /The New Geography of Jobs/. Mariner Books: Boston, MA.

·Pike, A., D. MacKinnon, M. Coombes, T. Champion, D. Bradley, A. Cumbers, L. Robson and C. Wymer (2016) /Uneven Growth: Tackling City Decline/. Report for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, available through www.jrf.org.uk/report/uneven-growth-tackling-city-decline <http://www.jrf.org.uk/report/uneven-growth-tackling-city-decline>.

·Storper, M., T. Kemeny, N. P. Makarem, and T. Osman (2015): /The Rise and Fall of Urban Economies: Lessons from San Francisco and Los Angeles/. Stanford Business Books: Stanford, CA.

·Storper, M. and Walker, R. (1989) /The Capitalist Imperative: Territory, Technology and Industrial Growth/. Basil Blackwell: New York, NY.

Reply via email to