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date: 10 April 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses the nature of relational research designs that aim to overcome separations between different disciplinary perspectives within economic geography and create linkages to other academic fields. The relational approach is a comprehensive research perspective grounded in three principles of relationality of economic action: contextuality, path dependence, and contingency. Using the cases of manufacturing versus professional services clusters, it is shown that the relational approach does not proclaim a meta-theory of economic organization in space but provides a framework for contextual theorization, adjusted to the specific sectoral and technological contexts under investigation. Relational research designs across academic fields agree (i) that social relations between people and organizations are key to understanding the contemporary economy, (ii) that economic processes rest on the spatial and temporal interplay between regional and global networks, and (iii) that innovation and learning depend on simultaneous inter-firm, intra-organizational and community-based interactions and relations.

Keywords: cluster conceptions, geographical lens, linkages across academic fields, relational economic geography, relational research design

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