New regional industrial path development beyond related variety

Session organizers:

Björn Asheim (bjorn.t.asheim@uis.no), Markus Grillitsch (markus.grillitsch@keg.lu.se), Michaela Trippl (michaela.trippl@univie.ac.at)


Over the past years, the notions of related variety and regional branching have become powerful elements in theoretical accounts and empirical studies of regional economic development and diversification. A growing community of economic geographers and innovation scholars has invoked these concepts to analyse regional variations in growth and regional industrial path development. Recent work suggests that the “related variety – regional branching” type of explanation of regional industrial change might be too narrow: it tends to underplay i) the relevance of other forms of path development, ii) the importance of combining unrelated knowledge bases, and iii) the complexity of local and non-local flows of knowledge and resources that trigger regional structural change.

The aim of this special session is to discuss how broader frameworks that go beyond the “related variety – regional branching” arguments could sharpen our understanding of forms, mechanisms and barriers to new regional industrial path development. We invite authors to submit papers to one of the following key topics of the special session: i) comparing the effects of related variety and unrelated variety on different forms of path development; ii) types of innovation and the spatial dimension of resources mobilization that underpin new development paths in different regional settings; iii) effects of local versus non local knowledge and linkages on regional structural change; iv) relevance of integrating unrelated knowledge base combinations for regional economic diversification; v) nature of novel policy approaches for supporting new regional industrial path development.