Evolutionary Economic Geography and Relational Geography

  • Harald BatheltEmail author
  • Peng-Fei Li
Reference work entry


In the past decade, economic geography has encountered increasing interest and debates about evolutionary and relational thinking in regional development. Rather than comparing the two approaches, this chapter investigates how they can complement one another and be applied to specific research fields in economic geography. A comparison would be difficult because the approaches address different levels of the research process and are in a relatively early stage of their development. To demonstrate the potential of combining the two approaches, this chapter aims to conceptualize cluster dynamics in an integrated relational-evolutionary perspective. In recent years, research on clusters has experienced a paradigmatic shift from understanding their network structure to analyzing dynamic changes. Within this context, inspired by relational and evolutionary thinking, a comprehensive tripolar analytical framework of cluster evolution is developed that combines the three concepts of context, network, and action, allowing each to evolve in interaction with the others. Through this, the chapter argues that, rather than viewing relational and evolutionary accounts as competitive approaches to economic geography, they can, in an integrated form, become fundamental guides to economic geography research.


Evolutionary Approach Economic Geography Path Dependence Local Agent Cluster Dynamic 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This chapter, to which both authors have contributed equally, is based on a more extensive conceptual and empirical study (Li et al. 2012). We would like to thank Andres Rodríguez-Pose for his encouragement and Manfred Fischer and Peter Maskell for thoughtful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political Science and Department of Geography & Program in PlanningUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of Urban & Regional Economy and Institute of China InnovationEast China Normal UniversityShanghaiPeople’s Republic of China

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