Thus far, research on regional economic resilience has been dominated by quantitative studies looking at how regional economies resisted and recovered from macro-economic downturns. This chapter argues that fruitful new directions are to be found in further developing evolutionary conceptions of regional economic resilience, especially in relation to structural changes in the wider economy. Such evolutionary conceptions do away with notions of equilibrium altogether, and can thus encompass the complete transformation of regional economies. In terms of research focus, this entails homing in on the possible mechanisms through which the processes of reorganisation and reorientation take place within regional economies that undergo adaptation. And in terms of research methodology, this will require more research based on a comparative case study design, using a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods.
Emil Evenhuis and Stuart Dawley
In this chapter we will discuss how the mechanisms and drivers of regional economic resilience can be theorised using evolutionary approaches in economic geography. We focus on evolutionary approaches that draw from three main theoretical frameworks: Generalised Darwinism, Complexity Theory, and Path Dependency. We will review each of the three frameworks with regard to their understanding of regional economic resilience, with particular attention to their treatment of the roles of agency, institutions and multi-scalar processes. We conclude that the Path Dependency approach – so far relatively neglected in debates on regional resilience – offers the greatest theoretical insight into these interrelated domains and provides the basis for a more comprehensive evolutionary resilience research agenda.