Table of Contents

  • Economic geography in an era of global competition involves a paradox. It is widely recognised that changes in technology and competition have altered many of the traditional rules that determine location of economic activity, making it possible for firms to access the inputs and knowledge that they need in order to compete from anywhere across the globe. Yet geographic concentration remains a striking feature of virtually every national and regional economy in the OECD. Over the last few years, for example, many of the leading firms in “new economy” industries have tended to cluster together.

  • Rapid changes in economic structures are causing concern among both policy makers and citizens in OECD countries. To understand how these trends are affecting regions, this chapter explores the dynamics of the manufacturing sector at the regional level and the shift, visible in some places, towards higher value manufacturing and non-manufacturing activities. This chapter sets the scene for subsequent discussion of whether and how regions can seize the opportunities offered by globalisation by building on their accumulated assets.

  • The drivers of change in regional economic structures are assumed to be linked to globalisation, notably the reorganisation of production. This chapter outlines the main drivers of globalisation and explores the role of multinational firms in this process and what this has meant for particular regions. It then reviews the changing geography of production and processes such as outsourcing and offshoring from the perspective of their impact on regions.

  • Given the changes in regional economies due to globalisation, the reorganisation of production and the nature of innovation, how should regions respond? Regions, not nations, appear increasingly as the nodes in global networks. Regions are also the scale at which meaningful interaction among firms, people and knowledge generators leads to innovation. This chapter discusses the opportunities that the reorganisation of production seems to offer and presents some examples of how regions have worked to seize these opportunities.

  • This chapter explores the importance of governance arrangements in helping regions react to changes in the global economy. In some cases, mobilisation has been a response to crisis; in others a more structured mechanism for economic policy formulation is used. In either case, the evidence base necessary for decision making stands out as a crucial issue, as does the ability of public and private sector actors to find consensus around a forward-looking and realistic response.

  • This chapter looks at the evolution of the automotive industry and the impacts that changes in the industry are having on four car-producing regions. In each case, the regions are struggling with the impact of restructuring of the global car industry but also striving to build on the technological and innovative capacities that the regions have acquired over time as leaders in a dynamic technologydriven industry.

  • This chapter looks at the evolution of the biopharmaceuticals industry and the impacts that changes in the structure of the industry are having on four regions specialised in drug production and/or biotechnology. In each case, the regions are struggling with the impact of restructuring of the global pharmaceuticals industry but also striving to build on the R&D strengths and innovative capacities that the regions have acquired over time as leaders in a dynamic technology-driven industry.

  • This chapter looks at the evolution of the mobile ICT industry and the impacts that changes in the structure of the industry are having on four regions specialised in ICT. In each case, the regions are struggling with the impact of restructuring of the global ICT industry, particularly the after-effects of the ICT “bubble”. But the regions are also striving to build on the R&D strengths and innovative capacities that the regions have acquired over time as leaders in a dynamic technology-driven industry in order to maintain a competitive edge.