Leapfrogging of Peripheral Regions in the Global Emerging Green Industry Space

In recent years, the discussion on the development of green technologies in regions has gained popularity in economic geography as scholars increasingly agree on the urgency of exploring opportunities for regional green growth under various challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and natural resource depletion (Grillitsch and Hansen, 2019). The window of opportunity for green growth relates to changes in institutions, markets and technologies at different spatial scales. It suggests some degree of locational freedom for many of the emerging green industries because pre-existing locational conditions tend not to meet their unique requirements (Storper and Walker, 1989; Boschma and Loombay, 1999; Lema et al., 2020). Against this background, peripheral regions possess both advantages (e.g., the existence of institutional voids, no negative lock-ins, access to natural resources) and disadvantages (e.g., lacking endogenous innovation capabilities, and poor resource endowments for developing high-growth economic activities) in developing green industrial paths.

Recently, resonating with the discussion on unrelated diversification and smart specialization strategies in peripheral regions (Balland et al., 2019; Boschma, 2021), studies have shown both conceptually and empirically that peripheral regions may leapfrog in the global emerging (green) industry space and develop high-complexity economic activities that are unrelated to their pre-existing industrial structures, given sufficient agency from different actor groups (Asheim 2019; Binz and Anadon, 2018; Carvalho and Vale, 2018; Dawley, 2014; Grillitsch and Hansen, 2019; Trippl et al., 2020; Zhu et al., 2017, 2021).

While these studies have revealed more promising development opportunities for peripheral regions than the prevailing related diversification theory would suggest, such success stories have not yet been comprehensively theorized to derive generic patterns or mechanisms for peripheral regions seeking to pursue the "high risk, high reward" casino strategy in developing emerging green industries (Balland et al 2019). Moreover, little insight has been generated on how peripheral regions can even go one step further and turn such a casino strategy into the most ideal ‘high-road’ strategy (low risk, high reward) suggested by Balland et al (2019), and thus form industrial leadership in the global emerging green industry space.

Against this backdrop, the aim of this special session is to theorize about the emerging phenomenon of green path development in peripheral regions from an economic-geographic perspective. We welcome both conceptual and empirical contributions that address, but are not limited to, the following topics: