Proximity in a Changing World: a Relational Perspective on Spatial Development I

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Economic Geography Specialty Group, Urban Geography Specialty Group, Transportation Geography Specialty Group
Organizers: Stefan Lüthi, Alain Thierstein, Anna Growe
Chairs: Stefan Lüthi

Call for Submissions

Interested participants should send expression of interest, questions and/ or title and abstract of 250 words or less to Stefan Lüthi ( Contributors will have to register for the conference and submit their abstract the regular way (through the AAG website), and should then send the registration code (PIN) they receive to us. Please note that you have to submit the abstract AND also pay, and then your PIN is activated. Once everyone has done this, we register for a special session, and mention all registration codes that will be in our session(s).


The concept of proximity – relational, geographical, institutional, organisational, cognitive and social – links two basic theoretical approaches: agglomeration and network economies. In recent years we observe a fruitful match between these theoretical concepts aiming to describe and explain regional development. This discussion diversified across various disciplines such as geography, economics, sociology or spatial development. Therewith, we observe a multitude of applications of the concept of proximity making it a very versatile approach. However, longitudinal analyses of proximity are rather rare. So far, we can conclude that any form of proximity serves as a resource that can be exploited to create knowledge and innovations. Thus, regions, firms and people aim to establish relations with others in order to create proximity. The ongoing transformation of the global economy and the occurrence of fundamental exogenous shocks may alternate the relations between regions, firms and people. We assume that proximity remains a key driver for creating knowledge but spatial patterns of relations change bringing new actors and new centres to the fore. This conference aims to understand and discuss the concept of proximity within the changing global economy. We therefore invite papers that deal with dynamic approaches and longitudinal analyses of proximity and revolve around the following topics:

- proximity and multi-scalar approaches
- the importance of temporary spatial proximity for business operations
- the interrelationship between physical forms of exchange such as goods or people and non-physical forms
- the relationship between spatial proximity and the physical location of exchange processes
- the interplay between geographical proximity and new technologies of information and telecommunication
- the effects of exogenous shocks such as the financial crisis from 2008 or changing maps of trade barriers
- the effects of changing perceptions of means to create proximity and its consequences for economic processes
- methodological approaches to combine different forms of proximity
- new approaches of data collection, in particular relational data


Type Details Minutes
Presenter Kirsten Martinus*, The University of Western Australia, ‘Proximity’ and the redistribution of knowledge resources 15
Presenter Anna Growe*, Heidelberg University, How close is close enough? Discussing proximity in urban-regions using the example of small and medium sized cities and commuting stations 15
Presenter Alain Thierstein*, Technical University of Munich, Interlocking firm networks in the German knowledge economy revised: Changing functional urban hierarchies 2009-2018 15
Presenter Silke Zöllner, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Stefan Lüthi*, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Alain Thierstein, Munich University of Technology, Knowledge economy, firm networks and connectivity: methodological challenges in analyzing relational dynamics in space and time 15
Discussant Ben Derudder Ghent University 15

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