Revisiting the Old Industrial Region: Adaptation and Adjustment in an Integrating Europe

Cumbers, A. , Birch, K. and MacKinnon, D. (2006) Revisiting the Old Industrial Region: Adaptation and Adjustment in an Integrating Europe. Working Paper. Centre for Public Policy for Regions.

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The position of old industrial regions (OIRs) has been neglected in recent regional development research, partly as a result of dominant discourses concerned with concepts such as the knowledge economy, learning regions and the new regionalism. One outcome of this conceptual overload is that empirical research has typically been confined to all too familiar case studies of regional success that tell a rather partial story. Yet the extension of the European integration project eastwards alongside growing competition from the urban and regional ‘hotspots’ of the global south prompts a series of largely unconsidered questions about the ability of OIRs to achieve sustainable economic development and social cohesion in the years ahead. Lacking the capital, technological and labour assets of more dynamic cities and regions, and with the historic legacy of deindustrialisation and the decline of traditional sectors, OIRs face some important dilemmas of adjustment and adaptation. In this paper our purpose is to engage with these issues through some preliminary empirical research into the recent fortunes of OIRs in Western Europe’s largest economies: France, Germany, Spain and the UK. Drawing upon material from the Eurostat database, our results hint at interesting patterns of divergence in the performance of OIRs in terms of processes of economic restructuring, employment change and social cohesion. In particular some important variations emerge in the trajectory of regions within different national contexts. Drawing upon recent thinking relating to commodity chains and global production networks, our results lead us to pose a series of questions that relate to the way regions are being repositioned within broader political and economic networks as part of unfolding processes of uneven development and changing spatial divisions of labour.

Item Type:Research Reports or Papers (Working Paper)
Additional Information:Working Paper No.1
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:MacKinnon, Dr Daniel and Cumbers, Professor Andrew and Birch, Mr Kean
Authors: Cumbers, A., Birch, K., and MacKinnon, D.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Management
College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Urban Studies
Publisher:Centre for Public Policy for Regions
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2006 The Authors
Publisher Policy:Reproduced with permission of Authors

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