Relational Modeling and the Deep Roots of Economic Development

Authors: Harald Bathelt*, University of Toronto, Maximilian Buchholz, University of Toronto
Topics: Economic Geography, Regional Geography, United States
Keywords: industrial structure; human capital; relational perspective; regional economic development; United States
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 35
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Considering growing inter-regional disparities in prosperity levels in many economies, this paper appeals for renewed research agendas to deepen our understanding of regional economic development. This is done by discussing different conceptual perspectives, their empirical applications and open questions and suggestions for future research. Conventional approaches view development as an outcome of and dependent upon local economic structure. That is, high regional performance is thought to be associated with specific regional industrial and human capital mixes. We argue that in order to better understand the mechanisms that drive regional development it is helpful to apply a relational approach that pays attention to the networks between economic actors across different spatial scales, from local to global, that generate access to technologies, resources and markets and catalyze income growth. To support regional policy agendas, it is further necessary to go beyond identifying regularities that structure development and engage with differing regional pathways by conducting systematic comparative analyses of local contextual and institutional conditions.

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