Table of Contents

Regional Development and Proximity Relations

Regional Development and Proximity Relations

New Horizons in Regional Science series

Edited by André Torre and Frédéric Wallet

The notion of proximity is increasing in popularity in economic and geographic literature, and is now commonly used by scholars in regional science and spatial economics. Few academic works, however, have explored the link between regional development and proximity relations. This comprehensive book redresses the balance with its assessment of the role of, and obstacles caused by, proximity relations in regional development processes.

Chapter 6: How I met my partner: reconsidering proximities

Olivier Bouba-Olga, Michel Grossetti and Marie Ferru

Subjects: economics and finance, regional economics, urban and regional studies, regional economics


Proximity analyses have developed substantially since the early 1990s. For the most part, they have been focused on the geography of innovation, stressing the multidimensional nature of proximity in order to discuss the literature dealing with geographic economics, which highlighted the advantages of co-location and tended to undervalue the role of geographic proximity (for a detailed review of the literature, see for example Knoben and Oerlemans, 2006). The French school of proximity developed first, proposing a breakdown between a geographic proximity and an organised proximity (Torre and Gilly, 2000), or between geographic proximity, organisational proximity and institutional proximity (Kirat and Lung, 1999). From a sociological standpoint, Michel Grossetti participated in these discussions citing the need at the individual level to distinguish proximity of similarity (people are close because they are like one another) from relational proximity (people are linked by short relational chains) (Grossetti, 1998). More recently, Rallet and Torre (2005) distinguished between a permanent geographic proximity and a temporary geographic proximity, which, in particular, makes it possible to dissociate the question of collaborations for innovation from that of the actors' location, with the activation of a temporary proximity making it possible to collaborate effectively without co-locating. Subsequently, proximity analyses spread more quickly after the publication of the article by Boschma (2005), which proposes distinguishing five forms of proximity: cognitive, organisational, social, institutional and geographic.

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