(With the usual apologies for cross-posting)


'Evolving geographies of manufacturing in advanced economies'
Special session at 2019 AAG annual meeting, Washington DC, April 3-7 2019 

Peter Sunley, University of Southampton
Ron Martin, University of Cambridge
Richard Harris, Durham University
Andy Pike, Newcastle University
Emil Evenhuis, University of Southampton

Despite many years of deindustrialisation, manufacturing continues to play a 
key role in advanced economies. While often declining in relative and sometimes 
absolute terms, it still constitutes a significant share of employment, output 
and exports in many local, regional and urban economies in the global North. 
Manufacturing activities continue to generate positive effects in terms of 
income generation and sustaining supply sectors elsewhere in manufacturing and 
in services. The sector also provides relatively well-paid, stable and 
higher-quality jobs especially for people who did not go through higher 
education. As a result, manufacturing is a key focal point for industrial and 
spatial policy at various scales across many countries and integral to attempts 
to generate more spatially balanced and inclusive forms of growth.
Manufacturing in advanced industrialised economies has been subject to a number 
of profound changes in recent years. These include: the 'unbundling' and 
'rebundling' of activities; waves of offshoring and reshoring; the application 
of sophisticated forms of automation and organisation in conjunction with 
ongoing developments in digitalisation, artificial intelligence and robotics; 
and the emergence of a 'maker economy' based upon new forms of decentralised, 
distributed and customised production. Little is known about the ways in which 
such transformations are reshaping the geographies of manufacturing. Moreover, 
such transformations have raised profound questions over whether manufacturing 
can continue to act as a driver of productivity growth, wealth and innovation 
in regional economies.
The aims of this session are, first, to examine and bring into dialogue 
international research on these dynamics and changing geographies in 
manufacturing across industrialised economies and, second, to explore the kinds 
of industrial and spatial policies that could help to enhance the role of 
manufacturing in achieving more spatially balanced and inclusive forms of 
growth. To these ends, we invite paper submissions which engage with these 
issues. Questions to be addressed, could include (but are not limited to):

*         What are the key dynamics affecting manufacturing in mature 
capitalist economies in the contemporary period?

*         What are the geographical variations in key performance indicators in 
manufacturing across regions and countries (in terms of employment, output, 
productivity, innovation, etc.) and how can we conceptualise and explain their 
causes? What are the most significant outcomes of automation, digitisation, and 
the restructuring of international trade regulatory frameworks?

*         To what extent and in what ways are such dynamics and performance 
differences driven by geographical contexts and relationships, such as related 
variety in regional economies, clustering, localised ecosystems, forms of 
strategic coupling, etc.?

*         What is the potential of manufacturing to contribute to more balanced 
and inclusive forms of growth in advanced economies? In particular, do the 
dynamics and changing geographies of manufacturing offer prospects for the 
revitalisation of struggling traditional industrial regions and peripheral 

*         How do industrial and/or spatial policies at different scales vary 
across countries and regions in this respect? And what could be suitable policy 
measures to support manufacturing (especially in the context of trying to 
achieve more balanced and inclusive forms of growth)?

Please submit a 250-word abstract with title to Emil Evenhuis 
(e.evenh...@soton.ac.uk<mailto:e.evenh...@soton.ac.uk>) by 18th October 2018. 
Participants will be notified of acceptance by October 19th (deadline for paper 
abstract submissions is October 25th). When accepted, participants should then 
provide us with their PIN before the session organisation deadline of November 

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