Handbook of Regions and Competitiveness
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Handbook of Regions and Competitiveness

Contemporary Theories and Perspectives on Economic Development

Edited by Robert Huggins and Piers Thompson

The aim of this Handbook is to take stock of regional competitiveness and complementary concepts as a means of presenting a state-of-the-art discussion of the contemporary theories, perspectives and empirical explanations that help make sense of the determinants of uneven development across regions. Drawing on an international field of leading scholars, the book is assembled and organized so that readers can first learn about the theoretical underpinnings of regional competitiveness and development theory, before moving on to deeper discussions of key factors and principal elements, the emergence of allied concepts, empirical applications, and the policy context.
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Chapter 13: Competitiveness and regional economic resilience

Ron Martin and Peter Sunley


As is often the case with new ideas, both the notion of ‘regional competitiveness’ and regional economic ‘resilience’ have found currency among those interested in policy. Alongside the competitiveness concept, resilience has emerged as an imperative ‘whose time has come’ in policy debates around localities, cities and regions, propelling a new discourse of ‘constructing’ or ‘building’ regional and urban economic resilience. Indices of local and regional resilience have been compiled, akin to those for competitiveness. This chapter explores the issues that need to be meaningfully addressed before the concepts of local and regional resilience can be used in a productive manner within policy agendas and practices. Firstly there is a need for a clear definition, conceptualization and understanding of precisely what it is that the concept is trying to foster. In particular, there is as yet no theory of regional economic resilience, and relatively little discussion of how the notion relates to concepts such as regional competitiveness. Also, there is the issue of what determines the resilience of a regional or local economy: what is it that makes a local economy more or less resilient? Given these and other concerns, some economic geographers have questioned the applicability and relevance of the concept in regional and urban settings, and queried whether it adds anything new to our existing theoretical and explanatory schemas. These are all issues that need discussion and resolution before we can talk meaningfully about ‘building’ local and regional resilience.

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