Global Innovation Systems and Production Networks and Their Influence on Green Regional Industrial Path Development

Recent scholarship in economic geography and transition studies increasingly acknowledges that ‘green’ regional path development intimately depends on extra-regional innovation dynamics and multi-scalar interdependencies (Binz & Truffer, 2017; Heiberg et al., 2020; Trippl et al., 2018; Yeung, 2021). How new-the-world green industries emerge, regions diversify into (related or unrelated) cleantech industries, or existing industries undergo sustainability-oriented transformations, depends on a complex interplay between territorially embedded industrial capabilities, institutional structures and actor strategies, and their interaction with supra-regional sectoral structures.

To improve our understanding of those multi-scalar dynamics, scholars in economic geography are increasingly combining analytical frameworks that explore innovation processes in territorial contexts (regional innovation systems, clusters, industrial districts, etc.) with concepts that tackle multi-scalar exchange processes with globalized industrial and sectoral structures (Heiberg et al., 2020; Trippl et al., 2018; Wu, 2021; Yeung, 2021). Especially theorizing around global innovation systems (GIS) and global production network (GPN) has received deepened attention recently . Among others, work at this conceptual interface has explored how regions develop green paths through strategic coupling with lead firms in green industries (Dawley et al., 2019; MacKinnon et al., 2019); how innovation dynamics and value capture in regions differs between industries with different (global) innovation system types (Binz et al., 2017; Hipp & Binz, 2020; Rohe, 2020); how regions mobilize extra-regional system resources in their path development and transformation trajectories (Binz et al., 2020; Miörner & Trippl, 2019; Trippl et al., 2020; Yu et al., 2021); or how market success of green technologies depend on transnational legitimacy flows (Heiberg et al., 2020) or participation in transnational R&D networks (Tsouri et al., 2021).

At the same time, it is fair to say that these lines of work are still emergent and that many highly relevant research avenues remain underexplored. The GIS and GPN lenses would need important conceptual specifications and improvements to be able to fully capture the multi-scalar dynamics in emergent, green and often policy-driven innovation and sectoral change processes. The same goes for economic geography’s core concepts for explaining regional innovation and transformation dynamics. This special session track accordingly aims at exploring whether and how fostering the interface between frameworks that emphasize territorially embedded and multi-scalar/global innovation dynamics may improve our theorizing of the determinants of green industrial path development in regions. How can GIS and GPN perspectives improve our understanding of green regional industrial path development? How would they in turn have to be adapted to better conceptualize regional green innovation and transformation dynamics? And what are key cornerstones of a research agenda on coupled regional-sectoral green innovation dynamics?

We welcome papers that make theoretical as well as empirical contributions to this theme. Topics might include, but are not limited to: