The Persistent Relevance of Transborder (Focal) Regions: The Case of the European Blue Banana

  • Paul Brugman
  • Alain Verbeke
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Maritime Economics book series (PSME)


How much do borders matter? National governments and international organizations have done much to reduce the artificial barriers that impede trade and other cross-border flows, but are we yet in a position where borders can be considered inconsequential, at least in an economic sense? The impact of decreased border obstacles will likely be most pronounced for firms in former border areas, who are confronted with markets, competitors, and other influences from which the border previously insulated them. Among these influences are technological and economic spill-over effects, which may become more pronounced as the border no longer poses an impenetrable barrier. In border regions, the removal of obstacles at borders could lead to cross-border homogenization such that both profit from integration, or both lose as economic activity relocates to other “core” regions. It is also possible though that one such region becomes a “core” region and acts as a magnet to attract economic activities from the other region, leading to an increased divergence between the two regions.


Cross-border flows Core regions Trade barriers Economic activity 


  1. Aghion, P., Bloom, N., Blundell, R., Griffith, R., & Howitt, P. (2005). Competition and innovation: An inverted-U relationship. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 120(2), 701–728.Google Scholar
  2. Amin, A., & Thrift, N. (1992). Neo-Marshallian nodes in global networks. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 16, 571–587.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Amin, A., & Thrift, N. (1995). Institutional issues for the European regions: From markets and plans to socioeconomics and powers of association. Economy and Society, 24(1), 41–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brunet, R. (2002). Lignes de force de l’espace Européen. Mappe Monde, 66(2), 14–19.Google Scholar
  5. Combes, P.-P., & Overman, H. G. (2004). The spatial distribution of economic activities in the European Union. In V. Henderson & J. F. Thisse (Eds.), Handbook of regional and urban economics: Cities and geography. North Holland: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  6. Fujita, M., & Thisse, J.-F. (1996). Economics of agglomeration. Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, 10(4), 339–378.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Fujita, M., Krugman, P., & Venables, T. (1999). The spatial economy—Cities, regions and international trade. Cambridge: The MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ghemawat, P. (2001). Distance still matters: The hard reality of global expansion. Harvard Business Review, 79(8), 137–147.Google Scholar
  9. Heidenreich, M. (1998). The changing system of European cities and regions. European Planning Studies, 6(3), 315–333.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hospers, G.-J. (2002). Beyond the blue banana? Structural change in Europe’s geo-economy. Intereconomics: Review of European Economic Policy, 38(2), 76–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kogut, B., & Zander, U. (1992). Knowledge of the firm, combinative capabilities, and the replication of technology. Organization Science, 3(3), 383–397.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Krugman, P. (1991). Increasing returns and economic geography. Journal of Political Economy, 99(3), 483–499.Google Scholar
  13. Krugman, P. (1998). What is new about the new economic geography? Oxford Journal of Economic Policy, 14(2), 7–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Levitt, T. (1983). The globalization of markets. Harvard Business Review, 61(3), 92–102.Google Scholar
  15. Lucas, R. E., Jr. (1988). On the mechanics of economic development. Journal of Monetary Economics, 22(1), 3–42.Google Scholar
  16. Malmberg, A., & Maskell, P. (1997). Towards an explanation of industry agglomeration and regional specialization. European Planning Studies, 5, 25–41.Google Scholar
  17. McCann, B., & Folta, T. (2008). Location matters: Where we have been and where we might go in agglomeration research. Journal of Management, 34(3), 532–565.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Moon, H. C., Rugman, A., & Verbeke, A. (1995). The generalised double diamond approach to international competitiveness. In A. M. Rugman, J. van den Broeck, & A. Verbeke (Eds.), Global strategic management (Vol. 5—beyond the diamond). London, UK: JAI Press.Google Scholar
  19. Moon, H. C., Rugman, A., & Verbeke, A. (1998). A generalised double diamond approach to the global competitiveness of Korea and Singapore. International Business Review, 7(2), 135–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Neary, J. P. (2001). Of hype and hyperbolas: Introducing the new economic geography. Journal of Economic Literature, 39(2), 536–561.Google Scholar
  21. Ottaviano, G., & Puga, D. (1998). Agglomeration in the global economy: A survey of the ‘New Economic Geography’. The World Economy, 21(6), 707–731.Google Scholar
  22. Ottaviano, G. I. P., & Thisse, J.-F. (2003). Agglomeration and economic geography (CEPR Discussion Paper No. 3838).Google Scholar
  23. Pe’er, A., Vertinsky, I., & King, A. (2008). Who enters, where and why? The influence of capabilities and research endowments on the location choices of de novo enterprises. Strategic Organization, 6(2), 119–149.Google Scholar
  24. Porter, M. E. (1990a). The competitive advantage of nations. New York: Free Press Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Porter, M. E. (1990b). The competitive advantage of nations. Harvard Business Review, 68(2), 73–93.Google Scholar
  26. Puga, D. (2002). European regional policies in light of recent location theories. Journal of Economic Geography, 2(4), 373–406.Google Scholar
  27. Rugman, A., & D’Cruz, J. (1993). The ‘double diamond’ model of international competitiveness: The Canadian experience. Management International Review, 33(2), 17–40.Google Scholar
  28. Saxenian, A. (1994). Regional advantage: Culture and competition in Silicon Valley and Route 128. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Taylor, P. J., & Hoyler, M. (2000). The spatial order of European cities under conditions of contemporary globalisation. Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie, 91(2), 176–189.Google Scholar
  30. Therborn, G. (1995). European modernity and beyond. The trajectory of European societies 1945–2000. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  31. Thisse, J.-P. (2000). Agglomeration and regional imbalance: Why? And is it bad? EIB Papers, 5(2), 47–67.Google Scholar
  32. Van Den Bulcke, D., Verbeke, A., & Yuan, W. (2009). Handbook on small nations in the global economy open economy. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Brugman
    • 1
  • Alain Verbeke
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.KBC Bank and InsuranceBrusselsBelgium
  2. 2.Haskayne School of BusinessUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  3. 3.Department of BusinessVrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselsBelgium
  4. 4.Henley Business SchoolUniversity of ReadingReadingUK

Personalised recommendations