International Handbook of Globalization and World Cities
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International Handbook of Globalization and World Cities

Edited by Ben Derudder, Michael Hoyler, Peter J. Taylor and Frank Witlox

This Handbook offers an unrivalled overview of current research into how globalization is affecting the external relations and internal structures of major cities in the world.
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Chapter 16: International Trade Fairs and World Cities: Temporary vs. Permanent Clusters

Harald Bathelt


Harald Bathelt INTRODUCTION Trade fairs have long been the focus of studies in management and marketing, investigating the importance of such events in attracting new buyers, establishing brands and developing a particular image (Meffert, 1993; Kirchgeorg, 2003). Although the character of these events has changed over time, the negotiation and certification of contracts are still important aspects of many trade fairs today (Power and Jansson, 2008). What we can observe is that while the number of firms making deals during a fair is limited, the number of ‘atypical visitors’ that are not classical buyers has increased (Borghini et al., 2006). Overall, the goals behind the participation in trade fairs have become more manifold and heterogeneous over time. In this context, it is important to note that trade fairs are increasingly recognized as important places where knowledge circulation and creation take place in a condensed form over a limited time period. This has been acknowledged in studies that characterize trade fairs as temporary assemblages of human beings (Zelinsky, 1994), periodic events of the social economy (Norcliffe and Rendace, 2003), temporary clusters (Maskell et al., 2004) or temporary markets (Golfetto and Rinallo, 2010) with organized proximity (Rallet and Torre, 2009). They provide information about global developments in markets and technologies and are key in the process of making personal contact with customers. Few studies have, however, focused on the nature of knowledge flows and communication during such events. Only recently has a broader research agenda developed that aims to provide a knowledge-based...

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