Relational Dimensions of Regional Growth: Introduction to the Special Issue


Suau-Sanchez, P., et al., 2012. Relational Dimensions of Regional Growth: Introduction to the Special Issue. Urbani Izziv Urban Challenge , 23 (1) , pp. S2 - S6.


The study of the distribution of economic activities across space has always been the essence of economic geography, regional economics, and related disciplines. Empirical analyses have provided significant evidence, for example, that especially urbanized regions are very successful in developing innovation and employment (e.g., Wedemeier 2009). A prerequisite for the generation of economic growth is, however, the capability of economic agents to be creative and to develop new ideas. A relational perspective places the analytical focus on the complex nexus of economic relations between actors and structures. It has been argued that changes in the relations between actors and structures foster dynamic transformations in the spatial organization of economic activities (Boggs and Rantisi 2003). Hence, relational economic growth is concerned with the ways in which socio-spatial relations of actors are interlaced with structures and processes of economic change at various geographical scales (Yeung, 2005). Bathelt and Glückler (2003) argued that the relational perspective has three fundamental components: (a) economic actors operate within frameworks of social and institutional relations; (b) economic processes are path-dependent, with future actions constrained to some extent by past decisions; and (c) economic processes can also shaped by agents’ free will, unconstrained by existing development paths. According to Jones (2009, p. 487) recent years “have witnessed a burgeoning of work on 'thinking space relationally'”, even though there seem exists some silence on factors that, for example, constrain, structure, and connect space (see also Sunley 2008).