Production Chain Length and Boundary Crossings in Global Value Chains

Production Chain Length and Boundary Crossings in Global Value Chains

 

From Structure and length of value chains

In a value chain, value is added in sequential production stages and is carried forward from one producer to the next in the form of intermediate inputs. Value chains driven by the fragmentation of production are not an entirely new economic phenomenon, but the increasing reliance on imported intermediate inputs makes value chains global.

According to a 2013 report by the OECD, WTO and UNCTAD for the G-20 Leaders Summit, “Value chains have become a dominant feature of the world economy” (OECD et al., 2013).

Obviously, this dominant feature of the world economy needs measuring and analyzing. Policy-relevant questions include, but are not limited to:

  • what is the contribution of global value chains to economy GDP and employment? how long and complex are value chains?
  • what is the involvement and position of individual industries in global value chains? do multiple border crossings in global value chains really matter?

These and related questions generated a considerable amount of investigations proposing new measures of exports and production to account for global value chains. Some of those were designed to re-calculate trade  flows in value added terms, whereas other provided an approximation of the average length of production process.

A relatively new stream of research focuses on a deep decomposition of value added or final demand ( rather than exports or imports ) into components with varied paths along global value chains and measurements of the length of the related production processes. Consider, for example, a petrochemical plant that generates some value added equal to its output less all intermediate inputs used. We would be interested to know which part of this value added, embodied in the petrochemicals, is used entirely within the domestic economy and which part is exported.

We would also inquire how much of the latter satisfies final demand in partner countries and how much is further used in production and, perhaps, in exports to third countries and so on. We would be interested, in particular, in counting the number of production stages the value added in these petrochemicals passes along the chain before reaching its final user.

 

From Structure and length of value chains

APL

 

 

From Structure and length of value chains

A natural question is whether this method can be applied to the real economy with myriads of products, industries and dozens of partner countries? It can surely be applied if the data on inter-industry transactions are organized in the form of input-output accounts, and the computations are performed in block matrix environment. In fact, the measurement of the number of production stages or the length of production chains has attracted the interest of many input-output economists. The idea of simultaneously counting and weighting the number of inter-industry transactions was formalized by Dietzenbacher et al. (2005). Their “average propagation length” (APL) is the average number of steps it takes an exogenous change in one industry to affect the value of production in another industry. It is the APL concept on which we build the count of the number of production stages from the petrochemical plant to its consumers in our simplified example above. The only difference is that Dietzenbacher et al. (2005), and many authors in the follow-up studies, neglect the completion stage. First applications of the APL concept to measure the length of cross-border production chains appear in Dietzenbacher and Romero (2007) and Inomata (2008), though Oosterhaven and Bouwmeester (2013) warn that the APL should only be used to compare pure interindustry linkages and not to compare different economies or different industries.

Fally (2011, 2012) proposes the recursive definitions of two indices that quantify the “average number of embodied production stages” and the “distance to final demand”.  Miller and Temurshoev (2015), by analogy with Antras et al. (2012), use the logic of the APL and derive the measures of “output upstreamness” and “input downstreamness” that indicate industry relative position with respect to the nal users of outputs and initial producers of inputs. They show that their measures are mathematically equivalent to those of Fally and the well known indicators of, respectively, total forward linkages and total backward linkages. Fally (2012) indicates that the average number of embodied production stages may be split to account for the stages taking place within the domestic economy and abroad. This approach was implemented in OECD (2012), De Backer and Miroudot (2013) and elaborated in Miroudot and Nordstrom (2015).

Ye et al. (2015) generalize previous length and distance indices and propose a consistent accounting system to measure the distance in production networks between producers and consumers at the country, industry and product levels from different economic perspectives. Their “value added propagation length” may be shown to be equal to Fally’s embodied production stages and Miller & Temurshoev’s input downstreamness when aggregated across producing industries.

Finally, Wang et al. (2016) develop a technique of additive decomposition of the average production length. Therefore, they are able to break the value chain into various components and measure the length of production along each component. Their production length index system includes indicators of the average number of domestic, cross-border and foreign production stages. They also propose new participation and production line position indices to clearly identify where a country or industry is in global value chains. Importantly, Wang et al. (2016) clearly distinguish between average production length and average propagation length, and between shallow and deep global value chains.

This paper builds on the technique and ideas of Wang et al. (2016) and the derivation of the weighted average number of border crossings by Muradov (2016). It re-invents a holistic system of analytical indicators of structure and length of value chains. As in Wang et al. (2016), global value chains are treated here within a wider economy context and are juxtaposed with domestic value chains. This enables developing new indices of orientation towards global value chains. The novel deliverables of this paper are believed to include the following. First, all measurements are developed with respect to output rather than value added or final product  flows. This is superior for interpretation and visualization purposes because a directly observable economic variable ( output ) is decomposed in both directions, forwards to the destination and backwards to the origin of value chain. It is also shown that at a disaggregate country-industry level, the measurement of production length is equivalent with respect to value added and output. Second, the decomposition of output builds on a factorization of the Leontief and Ghosh inverse matrices that allows for an explicit count of production stages within each detailed component. Third, the system builds on a refined classication of production stages, including final and primary production stages that are often neglected in similar studies. Fourth, the paper re-designs the average production line position index and proposes new indices of orientation towards global value chains that, hopefully, avoid overemphasizing the length of some unimportant cross-border value chains. Fifth, a new chart is proposed for the visualization of both structure and length of value chains. The chart provides an intuitive graphical interpretation of the GVC participation, orientation and position indices.

It is also worth noting that both Wang et al. (2016) and this paper propose similar methods to estimate the intensity of GVC-related production in partner countries and across borders. This is not possible with previous decomposition systems without explicitly counting the average number of production stages and border crossings.

 

 Key Terms:

  • Average Propagation Length
  • National Boundaries
  • Networks
  • Value Chains
  • Supply Chains
  • Upstreamness
  • Downstreamness
  • Structure of Chains
  • Smile Curves
  • Vertical Specialization
  • Fragmentation of Production
  • Shock Amplifiers
  • Shock Absorbers
  • Production Sharing
  • World Input Output Chains
  • WIOD
  • Counting Boundary Crossings
  • Production Staging
  • Slicing Up Value Chains
  • Mapping Value Chains
  • Geography of Value Chains
  • Spatial Economy

Key Sources of Research:

 

 

Characterizing Global Value Chains

Zhi Wang

Shang-Jin Wei

Xinding Yu and Kunfu Zhu

GLOBAL VALUE CHAIN DEVELOPMENT REPORT 2016
Background Paper Conference

Beijing, 17-18 March 2016

Click to access Characterizing_Global_Value_Chains.pdf

 

 

The Great Trade Collapse: Shock Amplifiers and Absorbers in Global Value Chains

Zhengqi Pan

2016

Click to access Zhengqi%20Pan_GPN2016_008.pdf

 

 

CHARACTERIZING GLOBAL VALUE CHAINS:PRODUCTION LENGTH AND UPSTREAMNESS

Zhi Wang
Shang-Jin Wei
Xinding Yu
Kunfu Zhu
March 2017

Click to access w23261.pdf

 

 

 

Characterizing Global Value Chains

Zhi Wang
Shang-Jin Wei,
Xinding Yu and Kunfu Zhu

September 2016

Click to access Wang,%20Zhi.pdf

Click to access 8178.pdf

 

 

MEASURING AND ANALYZING THE IMPACT OF GVCs ON ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

GLOBAL VALUE CHAIN DEVELOPMENT REPORT 2017

International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank
2017

Click to access tcgp-17-01-china-gvcs-complete-for-web-0707.pdf

 

 

 

Global Value Chains

Click to access Lecture%20Global%20Value%20Chains.pdf

 

 

MAPPING GLOBAL VALUE CHAINS

4-5 December 2012
The OECD Conference Centre, Paris

Click to access MappingGlobalValueChains_web_usb.pdf

 

 

 

Structure and length of value chains

Kirill Muradov

Click to access IO-Workshop-2017_Muradov_abstract.pdf

Click to access IO-Workshop-2017_Muradov_ppt.pdf

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3054155

 

Production Staging: Measurement and Facts

Thibault Fally

August 2012

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.717.7092&rep=rep1&type=pdf

 

 

 

TRACING VALUE-ADDED AND DOUBLE COUNTING IN GROSS EXPORTS

Robert Koopman
Zhi Wang
Shang-Jin Wei

November 2012

Click to access w18579.pdf

 

 

 

GIVE CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE: TRACING VALUE ADDED IN GLOBAL PRODUCTION CHAINS

Robert Koopman
William Powers
Zhi Wang
Shang-Jin Wei

September 2010

Click to access NBER%20working%20paper_1.pdf

 

 

 

Measuring the Upstreamness of Production and Trade Flows

By Pol Antràs, Davin Chor, Thibault Fally, and Russell Hillberry

2012

Click to access acfh_published.pdf

Click to access w17819.pdf

 

 

 

Using Average Propagation Lengths to Identify Production Chains in the Andalusian Economy

 

https://idus.us.es/xmlui/bitstream/handle/11441/17372/file_1.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

 

 

Production Chains in an Interregional Framework: Identification by Means of Average Propagation Lengths

 2007

 

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0160017607305366

 

 

 

Vertical Integration and Input Flows

Enghin Atalay

Ali Hortaçsu

Chad Syverson

2013

Click to access verticalownership.pdf

 

 

 

The Rise of Vertical Specialization Trade

Benjamin Bridgman

January 2010

Click to access the_rise_of_vertical_specialization_trade_bridgman_benjamin.pdf

 

 

 

THE NATURE AND GROWTH OF VERTICAL SPECIALIZATION IN WORLD TRADE

David Hummels
Jun Ishii
Kei-Mu Yi*

March 1999

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.475.3874&rep=rep1&type=pdf

 

 

Accounting for Intermediates: Production Sharing and Trade in Value Added

Robert C. Johnson

Guillermo Noguera

First Draft: July 2008
This Draft: June 2009

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.211.9707&rep=rep1&type=pdf

First Draft: July 2008
This Draft: May 2011

Click to access PAPER_4_Johnson_Noguera.pdf

 

 

 

FRAGMENTATION AND TRADE IN VALUE ADDED OVER FOUR DECADES

Robert C. Johnson
Guillermo Noguera

June 2012

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.679.6227&rep=rep1&type=pdf

 

 

 

Can Vertical Specialization Explain The Growth of World Trade

Kei-Mu Yi

1999

Click to access sr96.pdf

 

 

CAN MULTI-STAGE PRODUCTION EXPLAIN THE HOME BIAS IN TRADE?

Kei-Mu Yi

Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
June 2008
This revision: November 2008

https://www.philadelphiafed.org/-/media/research-and-data/publications/working-papers/2008/wp08-12r.pdf?la=en

 

 

 

Global Value Chains: New Evidence for North Africa

D. Del Prete, G. Giovannetti, E. Marvasi

2016

Click to access wp07_2016.pdf

 

 

 

Slicing Up Global Value Chains

Marcel Timmera Abdul Erumbana Bart Losa
Robert Stehrerb Gaaitzen de Vriesa

Presentation at International Conference on Global Value Chains and
Structural Adjustments,

Tsinghua University, June 25, 2013

Click to access session4_timmer.pdf

 

 

 

On the Geography of Global Value Chains

Pol Antràs

Alonso de Gortari

May 24, 2017

Click to access gvc_ag_latest_draft.pdf

 

 

Counting Borders in Global Value Chains

Posted: 12 Jul 2016

Last revised: 29 Aug 2016

Kirill Muradov

 

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2808130

 

 

Determinants of country positioning in global value chains

Kirill Muradov

May 2017

Click to access 2932_20170627121_Muradov2017_countrypositioninGVC_1.1.pdf

 

 

THE CONSTRUCTION OF WORLD INPUT–OUTPUT TABLES IN THE WIOD PROJECT

ERIK DIETZENBACHERa*, BART LOSa, ROBERT STEHRERb, MARCEL TIMMERa and GAAITZEN DE VRIES

2013

 

Click to access WIOD%20construction.pdf

 

 

 

 

On the fragmentation of production in the us

Thibault Fally

July 2011

Click to access Fally.pdf

http://voxeu.org/article/has-production-become-more-fragmented-international-vs-domestic-perspectives

A New Measurement for International Fragmentation of the Production Process: An International Input-Output Approach

Inomata, Satoshi

http://www.ide.go.jp/English/Publish/Download/Dp/175.html

Output Upstreamness and Input Downstreamness of Industries/Countries in World Production

Ronald E. Miller

Umed Temurshoev

 

Date Written: July 9, 2015

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2700845

Input-Output Calculus of International Trade

Kirill Muradov

 

Date Written: June 1, 2015

Posted: 9 Sep 2015 Last revised: 5 Oct 2015

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2643098

 

 

 

 Made in the World?

S. Miroudot

Hakan Nordstrom

Date Written: September 2015

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2658562

 

 

 

The Average Propagation Length Conflicting Macro, Intra-industry, and Interindustry Conclusions

October 2013
Jan Oosterhaven

Maaike C. Bouwmeester

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/258142955_The_Average_Propagation_Length_Conflicting_Macro_Intra-industry_and_Interindustry_Conclusions

 

 

 

Accounting Relations in Bilateral Value Added Trade

Robert Stehrer

May 2013

Click to access accounting-relations-in-bilateral-value-added-trade-dlp-3021.pdf

Whither Panama? Constructing a Consistent and Balanced World SUT System including International Trade and Transport Margins

Robert Stehrer

Click to access whither-panama-constructing-a-consistent-and-balanced-world-sut-system-including-international-trade-and-transport-margins-dlp-2905.pdf


https://wiiw.ac.at/p-2905.html

Quantifying International Production Sharing at the Bilateral and Sector Levels

Zhi Wang, Shang-Jin Wei, Kunfu Zhu

NBER Working Paper No. 19677
Issued in November 2013, Revised in March 2014

http://www.nber.org/papers/w19677

Measuring Smile Curves in Global Value Chains

Ming YE, Bo MENG , and Shang-jin WEI

August 2015

http://www.ide.go.jp/English/Publish/Download/Dp/530.html

 

 

 

 FOLLOW THE VALUE ADDED: BILATERAL GROSS EXPORT ACCOUNTING

by Alessandro Borin and Michele Mancini

2015

 

Click to access en_tema_1026.pdf

Intra Industry Trade and International Production and Distribution Networks

Intra Industry Trade and International Production and Distribution Networks

 

Inter Industry Trade is known as One way Trade.

Intra Industry Trade is known as Two way Trade.

 

Intra Industry Trade (IIT)

  • Can be Intra Firm or Inter Firm (Arms’ Length)
  • Can be Vertical or Horizontal (VIIT and HIIT)

Intra Industry Trade is measured using G-L Index among other indices.

Import and Export of Parts and Components (Intermediate Goods) causes measurement issues of IIT.

 

From Structure and Determinants of Intra-Industry Trade in the U.S. Auto-Industry

Intra-industry trade is defined as the simultaneous export and import of products, which belong to the same statistical product category. According to Kol and Rayment (1989), three types of bilateral trade flows may occur between countries: inter-industry trade, horizontal IIT and vertical IIT. Historically, the international trade between countries has been inter-industry form, which is described as the exchange of products belonging to different industries. Traditional trade models, such as Heckscher-Ohlin model or Ricardian model, have tried to explain this type of trade based on comparative advantage in relative technology and factor endowments. However, a significant portion of the world trade over the last three decades took the form of the intra-industry trade rather than inter-industry trade. As a result, the traditional trade models has been considered to be inadequate in explaining this new trade pattern because in these models there is no reason for developed countries to trade in similar but slightly differentiated goods.

 

From Structure and Determinants of Intra-Industry Trade in the U.S. Auto-Industry

Horizontal IIT has been defined as the exchange of similar goods that are similar in terms of quality but have different characteristics or attributes. The models developed by Dixit and Stiglitz (1977), Lancaster (1980), Krugman (1980, 1981), Helpman (1981), and Helpman and Krugman (1985) explain horizontal IIT by emphasizing the importance of economies of scale, product differentiation, and demand for variety within the setting of monopolistic competition type markets. In these models, IIT in horizontally differentiated goods should be greater, the greater the difference in income differences and relative factor endowments between the trading partners.

 

From Structure and Determinants of Intra-Industry Trade in the U.S. Auto-Industry

In contrast, vertical IIT represents trade in similar products of different qualities but they are no longer the same in terms unit production costs and factor intensities.5 Falvey (1981) and Falvey and Kierzkowski (1987) have shown that the IIT in vertically differentiated goods occurs because of factor endowment differences across countries. In particular, Falvey and Kierzkowski (1987) suggest that the amount of capital relative to labor used in the production of vertically differentiated good indicates the quality of good. As a consequence, in an open economy, higher- quality products are produced in capital abundant countries whereas lower-quality products are produced in labor abundant countries. This will give rise to intra-industry trade in vertically differentiated goods: the capital abundant country exports higher-quality varieties and labor abundant country exports lower-quality products. The models of vertical IIT predict that the share of vertical IIT will increase as countries’ income and factor endowments diverge.

From Structure and Determinants of Intra-Industry Trade in the U.S. Auto-Industry

Various ways of calculating intra-industry trade have been proposed in the empirical literature, including the Balassa Index, the Grubel-Lloyd (G-L) index, the Aquino index. The most widely used method for computing the IIT is developed by Grubel and Lloyd (1971). However, beside aggregation bias, the traditional G-L index has one major problem often cited in the empirical literature. The unadjusted G-L index is negatively correlated with a large overall trade imbalance. With national trade balances, the level of IIT in a country will be clearly underestimated. To avoid this problem, Grubel and Lloyd (1975) proposed another method to adjust the index by using the relative size of exports and imports of a particular good within an industry as weights.

 

From Structure and Determinants of Intra-Industry Trade in the U.S. Auto-Industry

iit

 

From Structure and Determinants of Intra-Industry Trade in the U.S. Auto-Industry

IIT2IIT3IIT4

 

From:  World Trade Flows Characterization: Unit Values, Trade Types and Price Ranges

 

IIT5

 

 

Key Terms:

  • Intra Industry Trade
  • Inter Industry Trade
  • Horizontal IIT
  • Vertical IIT
  • Ricardo’s Theory of Comparative Advantage
  • Factor Inputs
  • Factor Endowments
  • Factor Prices
  • Heckscher-Ohlin Model of Trade
  • Stolper-Samuelson Theorem
  • Grubel – Lloyd Index
  • Fontagné and Freudenberg index (FF)
  • New Economic Geography (NEG)
  • Spatial Economy
  • UN COMTRADE
  • SITC Codes
  • Balassa Index
  • Acquino Index
  • Bilateral Trade Flows

 

Please see my related posts:

Understanding Trade in Intermediate Goods

Trends in Intra Firm Trade of USA

FDI vs Outsourcing: Extending Boundaries or Extending Network Chains of Firms

Relational Turn in Economic Geography

Understanding Global Value Chains – G20/OECD/WB Initiative

 

 

Key Sources of Research:

 

 

International Production and Distribution Networks in East Asia:  Eighteen Facts, Mechanics, and Policy Implications

Fukunari Kimura

2006

Click to access e2007-11b.pdf

 

 

 

The Formation of International Production and Distribution Networks in East Asia

 

Mitsuyo Ando and Fukunari Kimura

 

Click to access c0194.pdf

 

 

“The mechanics of production networks in Southeast Asia: the fragmentation theory approach”

Fukunari Kimura

July 2007

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.600.7481&rep=rep1&type=pdf

 

 

 

“Fragmentation in East Asia: Further Evidence”

May 2006

Mitsuyo Ando

Fukunari Kimura

Click to access Articolo%204.pdf

 

 

 

Modern International Production and Distribution Networks: the Role of Global Value Chains

Fukunari Kimura

2016

Click to access presentation_fukunari_kimura.pdf

 

 

 

Two-dimensional Fragmentation in East Asia: Conceptual Framework and Empirics

Fukunari Kimura and Mitsuyo Ando

Click to access 046.pdf

 

 

 

Deepening and Widening of Production Networks in ASEAN

Ayako Obashi

Fukunari Kimura

2016

Click to access ERIA-DP-2016-09.pdf

 

Global production sharing and trade patterns in East Asia

Prema-chandra Athukorala

June 2013

Click to access TU_VIROT,%20Ali_Reading2_Global%20Production%20Sharing%20and%20Trade%20Patterns%20in%20East%20Asia.pdf

 

 

 

PRODUCTION SHARING IN EAST ASIA: CHINA’S POSITION, TRADE PATTERN AND TECHNOLOGY UPGRADING

Laike Yang

Click to access gdsmdp20152yang_en.pdf

 

 

 

 

International Production Networks:  Contributions of Economics to Policy Making

Fukunari Kimura

2016

https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/internationaleconomy/19/0/19_ie2016.03.fk/_pdf

 

 

 

 

Production networks in East Asia: What we know so far

Fukunari Kimura and Ayako Obashi

No. 320
November 2011

Click to access 67543923X.pdf

 

Structure and Determinants of Intra-Industry Trade in the U.S. Auto-Industry

Kemal Turkcan and Aysegul Ates

2010

 

Click to access JIGES%20DECEMBER%202009%20TURKCAN%203-10-2010%20Turkcan_Ates_JIGES.pdf

 

 

 

Vertical Intra-Industry Trade: An Empirical Examination of the U.S. Auto-Parts Industry

Kemal TÜRKCAN and Ayşegül ATEŞ

(This version October 2008)

 

Click to access Turkcan.pdf

 

 

 

Intra-industry trade, fragmentation and export margins: An empirical examination of sub-regional international trade

Yushi Yoshida

 

https://www.iseg.ulisboa.pt/aquila/getFile.do?method=getFile&fileId=501284

 

 

A Practical Guide to Trade Policy Analysis

WTO

Click to access wto_unctad12_e.pdf

 

 

 

Intra-Industry Trade between Japan and European Countries: a Closer Look at the Quality Gap in VIIT

Yushi Yoshida, Nuno Carlos Leitão and Horácio Faustino

Click to access wp532008.pdf

 

 

Evolving pattern of intra-industry trade specialization of the new Member States (NMS) of the EU: the case of automotive industry

Elżbieta Kawecka-Wyrzykowska

2008

 

Click to access publication14289_en.pdf

 

 

VERTICAL AND HORIZONTAL INTRA-INDUSTRY TRADE BETWEEN THE U.S. AND NAFTA PARTNERS

2009

 

Click to access art02.pdf

 

 

 

Globalizing Production Structure and Intra-Industry Trade: The Case of Turkey

Emine Kılavuz

Hatice Erkekoğlu

Betül Altay Topcu

2013

https://www.econjournals.com/index.php/ijefi/article/viewFile/563/pdf

 

 

 

On the Measurement of Vertical and Horizontal Intra-Industry Trade: A Geometric Exposition

A.K.M. Azhar Robert J.R. Elliott

http://www.ibrarian.net/navon/paper/On_the_Measurement_of_Vertical_and_Horizontal_Int.pdf?paperid=1018522

 

 

 

 Determinants of United States’ Vertical and Horizontal Intra-Industry Trade

2013

 

https://espace.curtin.edu.au/bitstream/handle/20.500.11937/41590/197560_110710_GEJ_2013.pdf?sequence=2

 

 

 

World Trade Flows Characterization: Unit Values, Trade Types and Price Ranges

Charlotte Emlinger & Sophie Piton

2014

Click to access wp2014-26.pdf

Relational Turn in Economic Geography

Relational Turn in Economic Geography

This is an important topic.  Uneven development using orthodox economic and development theories has led researcher to look for alternative explanations.

  • How to properly integrate Global – Regional – National – Local perspectives?
  • How valuable is relational (network) perspective?
  • What is the role of power relations among Actors?
  • How does Institutional, Cultural, and Social embeddedness of Actors impact development and economy?
  • How does actions and interactions of Actors affect local economic environment?

 

From Toward a relational economic geography

During the 1990s, a controversial debate has emerged in economic geography and other social sciences, such as economics and sociology, focusing on the question of what research program, key focus and methodology a novel economic geography should embody (Perrons, 2001). This was, partially, a reaction to the work of Krugman (1991), Fujita et al. (2001), and others who claimed to have developed a new economic geography. This self-proclaimed new economic geography offers an interesting economic perspective on the conventional problems of spatial distribution and equilibrium, based on an analysis of increasing returns, transportation costs, and other traded interdependencies (Martin and Sunley, 1996; Bathelt, 2001). Yet it fails to develop a comprehensive research program as a basis for economic geography because ‘. . . the new economic geography ignores almost as much of the reality they study as old trade theory did’ (Krugman, 2000, p. 50).1 In following Martin and Sunley’s (1996) suggestion, this approach is better classified as geographical economics. While this literature brings economic geography closer to the core ideas of neoclassical economics, Amin and Thrift (2000) have recently suggested another fundamentally different direction for economic geography, capitalizing on concepts and theories from other social sciences. Amin and Thrift (2000, p. 4) provocatively claim that economic geography is no longer able to ‘fire the imagination’ of researchers. Therefore, they ask for a critical reflection and renewal of this field’s basic goals, concepts, and methods. The reactions to their contribution have stimulated a debate, parts of which have been published in a special issue of Antipode in 2001. This debate has unfortunately been dominated by discipline-political arguments, opinions, and claims. In essence, it focuses on the question of whether economic geography should be closely associated with economics or lean towards the social, political, and cultural sciences. In particular, Thrift (2000) has identified a growing interest in the cultural dimension of economic relations, as well as in economic issues of cultural studies. While Amin and Thrift (2000) propose a cultural turn away from neoclassical economics, their critics emphasize existing linkages with and the importance of economic theories as a foundation of economic geography (Martin and Sunley, 2001; Rodriguez- Pose, 2001). We agree with Martin and Sunley (2001) that this debate is partly based on false dualisms, such as economics vs. sociology and quantitative vs. qualitative methodology. In our view, this discussion is unclear because it mixes normative accounts of the discipline’s policy implications with epistemological and methodological arguments. The debate is also somewhat misdirected for it tries to separate those economic and social aspects that are inseparable. The decisive question cannot be whether economic geography should be economized or culturalized. Rather, the economic and the social are fundamentally intertwined. They are dimensions of the same empirical reality which should be studied in a dialogue of perspectives rather than in mutual exclusion and reductionist prioritization (Stark, 2000).

The second transition is characterized by a reformulation of the core concepts of economic geography. In the following sections, discontinuities between relational economic geography and regional science will be identified according to five dimensions of the research design. These dimensions include the conception of space, object of knowledge, conception of action, epistemological perspective, and research goal. From this, we develop a relational framework for analysis which systematically focuses on economic actors and their action and interaction. The basic propositions of this framework will be developed in the remainder of this section (Table 1).

4.1. Conception of space

A relational view of economic geography is based on a relationship between space and economy which is contrary to that of regional science.10 Specifically, regional science views space as a container which confines and determines economic action. It treats space as a separate entity which can be described and theorized independently from economic action. In contrast, a relational approach assumes that economic action transforms the localized material and institutional conditions of future economic action. Similar to Storper and Walker (1989), this approach emphasizes that the economic actors themselves produce their own regional environments. The way in which spatial categories and regional artifacts have an impact on economic action can only be understood if the particular economic and social context of that action is analysed (Bahrenberg, 1987). Spatial structures and processes have, however, been socially and economically underconceptualized in regional science. We contend that space can neither be used as an explanatory factor for economic action nor be treated as a separate research object in isolation from economic and social structures and relations. Consequently, as space is not an object of causal power to explain social or economic action it cannot be theorized (Sayer, 1985; Saunders, 1989; Hard, 1993).11 Of course, economic processes also have material outcomes (e.g. infrastructure) which are localized in certain places and territories and exist over longer time periods. Such structures clearly have an impact on economic action and interaction in these localities. Nonetheless, economic actors and their action and interaction should be at the core of a theoretical framework of economic geography and not space and spatial categories. Spatial scientists, such as Bunge (1973), treat spatiality as the object of knowledge in economic geography. They aim to detect those spatial laws which govern human action without looking at the actors themselves. Instead of treating space as a container, we suggest a conception of space as perspective (Glu¨ ckler, 1999). In other words, we use space as a basis for asking particular questions about economic phenomena but space is not our primary object of knowledge. It is this conception that we refer to as the geographical lens. As part of this, economic exchange becomes the focus of analysis and not space. Similarly, we do not seek to identify spatial laws but, instead, look for explanations of localized economic processes and their consequences.12 It is particularly through the application of a distinct perspective to the study of an object of knowledge that discipline-specific research problems can be formulated. The spatial perspective or geographical lens leads economic geographers to pose research questions about an economic phenomenon, different from those typically asked by economists or sociologists. We also suggest that the perspective applied helps mobilize a particular terminology and, over time, a set of tacit knowledge which entails an understanding of what it is that is being analysed and how this subject matter can be described and evaluated adequately.

relational2

 

From Rethinking relational economic geography

Since the mid-1990s, the softening of sub-disciplinary boundaries within human geography and the more general call for a ‘relational thinking’ in human geography (Massey et al . 1999; see also Allen et al. 1997; Sack 1997; Lee and Wills 1997) have stimulated the consolidation of what might be termed a ‘relational economic geography’. 1 In this ‘relational turn’, economic geographers tend to place their analytical focus on the complex nexus of relations among actors and structures that effect dynamic changes in the spatial organization of economic activities (see Amin 1998; Dicken and Malmberg 2001; Ettlinger 2001; Bathelt and Glückler 2003; Boggs and Rantisi 2003). This relational economic geography is concerned primarily with the ways in which socio-spatial relations of actors are intertwined with broader structures and processes of economic change at various geographical scales. Despite the claims of novelty among most economic geographers who have taken on such a relational thinking in their geographical analysis, it remains unclear whether this ‘relational turn’ represents merely a modest reworking of earlier work in economic geography that might not be explicitly relational in its conceptualization and analysis. After all, heated debates on the spatial divisions of labour, locality studies and flexible specialization dominated the heyday of economic geography during much of the 1980s and the early 1990s (Scott 2000). With hindsight, these debates have legitimized the analytical concern of economic geography with the social relations of production and the relations between the spatial and the social (Harvey 1982; Thrift 1983; Massey 1984; Smith 1984; Gregory and Urry 1985; Lee 1989). By sidestepping the pitfalls of an earlier brand of quantitative economic geography concerned with spatial geometries and locational analysis, the substantive foci on regions, localities and production processes in these debates have no doubt foregrounded the recent ‘relational turn’ in economic geography. While many recent geographic writings have addressed aspects tangential to the core theoretical categories deployed in a relational economic geography (e.g. Barnett 1998; Thrift 2000; Barnes 2001; Storper 2001), there is surprisingly a lack of systematic evaluation and integration of our knowledge of this growing field. In view of limited space, this paper develops a sympathetic critique and rethinking of the ‘relational turn’ in order to clarify the distinctive contributions of a relational economic geography and to rework some of its conceptual tools. In the next section, I critically examine the nature and emergence of the ‘relational turn’ in economic geography, by revisiting relational thought that existed as an undercurrent before the 1990s and situating the recent ‘relational turn’ in this earlier work in economic geography. Whilst the recent ‘relational turn’ has some of its intellectual antecedents in the earlier debates of the 1980s (particularly the social relations of production framework), its substantive content has been broadened to include social actors and their network relations at different spatial scales. Focusing on recent economicgeographical writings on regional development, embedded networks and geographical scales, I note that much of this large body of recent work is relational only in the thematic sense that relations among actors and structures are an important theme in contemporary economic-geographical enquiry. In particular, the causal nature of relationality and power relations are under-theorized and underspecified. If relational thinking in economic geography is to have a greater impact, we need to rework and deepen its theoretical constructs to go beyond simply a ‘thematic turn’ (Jessop 2001, 1214). The paper moves on to rework some of the most important theoretical insights in the ‘relational turn’ – relationality, power and actors. Dynamic and heterogeneous relations among actors and structures are conceptualized as causal mechanisms of socio-spatial change in economic landscapes. Here, I explore the notion of ‘relational geometries’ constituted through relationality and power . The concept of relational geometries refers to the spatial configurations of heterogeneous relations among actors and structures through which power and identities are played out and become efficacious. These relational geometries are neither actors (e.g. individuals and firms) nor structures (e.g. class, patriarchy and the state), but configurations of relations between and among them – connecting actors and structures through horizontal and vertical power relations. Relational geometries are also not networks per se because the latter refer mainly to horizontal and, mostly, static ties among actors only. Actors in these relational geometries are not static ‘things’ fixed in time and space. They are dynamic and evolving in such relational ways that their differential practices unleash multiple forms of emergent power in relational geometries. Building on the concept of different and emergent forms of causal power as positions in relational geometries and as practice through social action, this relational perspective allows us to avoid the two polarized frameworks in contemporary economic geography – actor networks and institutional structures. This effort to rework relational economic geography thus parallels the recently reinvigorated ‘relational sociology’ that ‘sees relations between terms or units as preeminently dynamic in nature, as unfolding, ongoing processes rather than as static ties among inert substances’ (Emirbayer 1997, 289). To substantiate the relevance of this reworking of conceptual categories, I show how relationality and multiple forms of power can offer vital insights into regional development that go beyond existing relational frameworks in economic geography.

related4relationality5

 

From Geographies of circulation and exchange: Constructions of markets

In the preceding sections we have discussed three heterodox alternatives to the orthodox free market logic.

For socioeconomists, markets are embedded in social structures and are a far cry from the virtual market model celebrated by orthodox economists. It is social relations that underwrite real markets, guaranteeing their functioning in the face of uncertainties. Work un- dertaken in this spirit puts emphasis on social relations and institutions, and analyses how non-economic institutions either enable or constrain efficient market exchange.

Political economists insist that, neoliberal claims to the contrary notwithstanding, capitalism cannot exist without “market imperfections”. In these accounts, the market model is nothing else than a fictitious ideological device to hide from view the underlying dynamics of capitalism. Accordingly, political economic scholars regard it as their task to remove the veil and to lay open the contradictory reality of concrete markets under capitalism.

Cultural economists apply the cultural theoretical concept of performativity towards the market. Rather than reproducing the classical distinction between the abstract market model and real-life markets, protagonists point to the role that the practice of economists widely understood plays in the self-realization of economic thought. It is argued that the model of the perfect market realizes itself in the world in the assembly of far-reaching socio-technical arrangements. Here, markets take on ambivalent form as relational effects of socio-technical networks engaging in the twin processes of framing and overflowing. The latter process includes the proliferation of new social relations, groups and communities which may articulate economic and non-economic alternatives.

In the discipline of economic geography heterodox approaches have managed to break the hegemony of the neoclassical orthodoxy. Unfortunately, the arguments in heterodox debates on the market and on alternative economic geographies more generally are very often taken from entrenched positions, authors apparently finding it very difficult to understand the train of thought followed by the “opposing” camp. While this is true for all positions introduced in this progress report, cultural economy has arguably had a particularly difficult time. With our representation of the performativity approach we hope to have been able to clarify some of the misunderstandings. The strength of the heterodox project lies precisely in the co-existence of competing positions, each challenging the still omnipresent logic of the perfect market in different ways. This is what a vibrant heterodox project should aspire to: A healthy competition of plurivalent and opposing ideas, a competition, however, which at the same time does not prevent conversation across different approaches and is pluralistic enough to gain from the application of different perspectives (see Barnes 2006).

 

 

From  Advancing evolutionary economic geography by engaged pluralism

relational

 

Please see my related post on Relational Sociology.

Boundaries and Relational Sociology

 

 

Key People:

  • Harrison White
  • Henry Wai-chung Yeung
  • H. Bathelt
  • J. Gluckler
  • Jeffrey S. Boggs
  • Norma M. Rantisi
  • Christian Berndt
  • Marc Boeckler
  • Robert Hassink
  • Claudia Klaerding

 

Related Schools of Thoughts:

  • Social Economics
  • Political Economy
  • Cultural Economy
  • Manchester School of Global Production Networks
  • German School of Relational approach

 

Key Terms:

  • Relational Geometries
  • Actor-Networks
  • Relationality
  • Actor-Structure
  • Global – Regional – National – Local
  • Social Embeddedness
  • Economic-Social-Political-Spatial
  • Cultural Economics
  • Critical Realism
  • Causal Relations
  • Boundaries
  • Institutional Economics
  • Political Economics
  • Spatial relations
  • Scale Structure
  • Regionalism
  • Power Relations

 

 

Key Sources of Research:

 

Geographies of circulation and exchange: Constructions of markets

Christian Berndt

Marc Boeckler

 

Click to access 3-BerndtBoeckler2009.pdf

 

 

Whither Global Production Networks in Economic Geography? Past, Present and Future

Martin Hess

Henry Wai-chung Yeung

 

Click to access 2006%20EPA_Hess_Yeung.pdf

 

 

Rethinking relational economic geography

Henry Wai-chung Yeung

2005

 

Click to access 2005_TIBG.pdf

 

 

Towards a Relational Economic Geography: Old Wine in New Bottles?

 

 

Toward a relational economic geography

Harald Bathelt and Johannes Glueckler

 

Journal of Economic Geography 3 (2003) pp. 117–144

Click to access 0c96052832bce3e2bf000000.pdf

 

 

Relational and evolutionary economic geography: competing or complementary paradigms?

Robert Hassink and Claudia Klaerding

2009

 

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.493.3838&rep=rep1&type=pdf

 

 

Towards an integrated Evolutionary and Relational Economic Geography approach

for analysing the evolution of destinations

 

Cinta Sanz‐Ibáñez,

Salvador Anton‐Clavé

 

Click to access SanzIbanez_AntonClave2014.pdf

Click to access 557194bb08ae7467f72ca317.pdf

 

 

Chains and networks, territories and scales: towards a relational framework for analysing the global economy

PETER DICKEN, PHILIP F. KELLY, KRIS OLDS and HENRY WAI-CHUNG YEUNG

 

Click to access DKOY_2001.pdf

 

 

What Really Goes on in Silicon Valley? Spatial Clustering and Dispersal in Modular Production Networks

Timothy J. Sturgeon

2003

 

Click to access 03-001.pdf

 

 

Theoretical advancement in economic geography by engaged pluralism

Robert Hassink, Claudia Klaerding

 

https://www.wigeo.uni-kiel.de/en/archiv/12peeg

 

 

EMBEDDEDNESS, ACTOR-NETWORKS AND THE ‘RELATIONAL TURN’ IN GEOGRAPHY

 

http://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/bitstream/handle/10635/14512/chapter_3.PDF?sequence=5

 

 

The ‘relational turn’ in economic geography

Jeffrey S. Boggs  and Norma M. Rantisi

Click to access The-Relational-Turn-in-Economic-Geography.pdf

 

 

Manifesto for a Relational Sociology

Mustafa Emirbayer

 

Click to access Emirbayer%20Manifesto%20for%20a%20Relational%20Sociology.pdf

 

 

Relational Economic Geography: A Partial Understanding
or a New Paradigm?

Peter Sunley

 

Click to access 552fb80c0cf2f2a588a8f6c7.pdf

 

 

The Relational Economy : Geographies of Knowing and Learning

Harald Bathelt and Johannes Gluckler

2011

Oxford

 

 

Can we learn anything from economic geography proper?

Yes, we can!

Robert Hassink, Huiwen Gong, Fabian Faller

Click to access peeg1622.pdf

 

 

GEOGRAPHIES OF FINANCE: CENTERS, FLOWS, AND RELATIONS

BONGMAN SEO

Accepted March 2011

 

 

Geographies of Production I:
Relationality revisited and the ‘practice shift’ in economic geography

 

Andrew Jones

2013

Click to access SR%20PiHG%20Geographies%20of%20Production%20Report%201%2024%20Jul13%20FINAL.pdf

 

 

Advancing evolutionary economic geography by engaged pluralism

 

Robert Hassink, Claudia Klaerding, Pedro Marque

2014

Click to access 54200ea90cf241a65a1afcd4.pdf

 

 

Geographies of Production: Growth Regimes in Spatial Perspective 3 – Toward a Relational View of Economic Action and Policy

Harald Bathelt

2006

Click to access 43_Bathelt%202006_PIHG.pdf