Regional Development and Proximity Relations
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Regional Development and Proximity Relations

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.
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Chapter 9: Proximity relations and global knowledge flows: specialization and diffusion processes across capitalist varieties

Rachael Gibson and Harald Bathelt


Since the late 1990s, the debate regarding proximity relations has been strongly shaped by the French proximity school (Rallet and Torre, 1999, 2009). This work mirrors an earlier literature, in the fields of management, marketing and economic geography, on producer-user interaction and the question of how close firms in producer-user networks ought to be in order to establish strong interactive learning processes (Ford, 1980; Lundvall, 1988; Gertler, 1993). This early work did not explicitly revolve around the proximity debate per se; rather, it focused on the institutional and cultural affinities enabling network partners to draw from similar understandings, develop consistent expectations and collaborate with one another. The French proximity school is primarily based within, and directed towards, the field of economics, where issues of space and proximity had long been neglected. The ensuing debate tried to merge different types of spatial and 'non-spatial' proximities in order to demonstrate that economic interaction is especially efficient if it is based on proximate relations. Such relations were viewed as a core feature of economic collaboration. Although many of the arguments surrounding the initial proximity debate were not new to economic geography, the general idea that effective economic interaction is fundamentally based on proximate relations appeared highly plausible.

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