Regional success has become increasingly defined by the notion of competitiveness, which generally refers to the presence of conditions that enable firms in a region to compete in their chosen markets, and for the value these firms generate to be captured within a region. In particular, regional policymakers have become more and more focused on seeking to improve the competitiveness of the places for which they have responsibility. However, it is not always evident that policymaking related to achieving competitiveness improvements fully considers the extent of the outcomes related to such policies, especially with regard to issues of the long-term resilience of regions.
Resilience refers to the capability of a region to experience positive economic success that is socially inclusive, works within environmental limits and which can ride global economic punches. The notion of resilience seeks to add to the regional economic development and competitiveness agenda issues relating to sustainability, localisation and diversification, and the developing understanding of regions as intrinsically diverse entities with evolutionary and context-specific development trajectories. Resilience is attracting increasing interest in the thinking and policy discourse around regional development, not least because it appears timely in the context of the triple crunch of economic austerity, climate change and the onset of peak oil.
Resilience is rapidly emerging as a concept due to the peculiarly powerful combination of transformative pressures from below and various catalytic, crisis-induced imperatives for change from above that are impacting on regions across the globe. In this respect, the future of economic success of regions is likely to rely on flexible well-suited institutions facilitating the ability to adapt and create resilience to external shocks. A lack of resilience is particularly manifest in regions in advanced national economies with a heritage of heavy industry, which have struggled to adapt to external shocks. The evolutionary school of economic geography, in particular, suggests that regional development is likely to be determined, at least to some extent, by past histories.
Regions that are tightly bound in their structures and networks may not be able to move to alternative development paths, so when hit by exogenous shocks they will be unable to escape from a declining competitiveness spiral. This highlights the important effects of economic specialisation, and the potential downsides of ‘over-specialisation’.
These factors have ramifications for regions, especially in the long term, as activities taken to increase competitiveness may have hidden costs in terms of the welfare of the population, which may compromise future competitiveness. This means that pursuing competitiveness gains may be no guarantee of resilience and may even have harmful long-term effects if relevant resources cannot be sustained.
This suggests the requirement for a more nuanced conception of competitiveness which incorporates the features of a resilient region alongside the conditions and factors underpinning the competitive success of firms within a region. The aim of this special issue is to provide a forum that extends current thinking on how regions foster long-term economic success through routes that engender social inclusion and environmental sustainability, and more generally generate the positive externalities associated with resilience.
Submissions of a theoretical, empirical or policy-oriented nature are welcome, addressing key themes related - but not necessarily limited – to the following:
- Competitiveness and resilient regional economic systems
- The role of institutions in building regional resilience
- Evolutionary economic geography, resilience, and competitiveness
- Path dependency, hysteresis and regional resilience
- Economic diversity, variety, and smart specialisation across regions
- Regional governance and resilience
- Regional competitiveness and the environment
- Regional social economies, resilience and competitiveness
- Welfare, well-being, and regional resilience
- Innovation and regional resilience
Deadline for submission of manuscripts: 14 September, 2012
Notification of acceptance/rejection to authors: 30 November, 2012
Submission of final manuscript: 31 January, 2012