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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

21st Annual Gregory Lecture Event

22 May 2013
16:30 – 17:00 – pre lecture refreshments in the Ketley Room, Building 54. 17:00 lecture and questions followed by post lecture drinks reception.

For more information regarding this event, please telephone Sarah Dack on 44(0)23 8059 2522 or email .

Event details

Resilience and the Economic Landscape: How do Regional Economies React to Shocks?

Over the past few years a new buzzword has entered academic, political and public discourse: the notion of resilience. We live, we are told, in an increasingly uncertain, volatile, and risk-prone world, one that is subject to seemingly ever more pronounced disruptions, and the success with which we negotiate these will “depend on how resilient we are” (Zolli and Healey, 2013). As part of this new imperative, the issue of how regional economies react to and recover from shocks is rapidly becoming part of the conceptual and analytical lexicon of regional economic studies. Further, as is often the case with new ideas, the concept of regional economic resilience is already finding currency among those interested in policy, and there is increasing interest in ‘constructing’ or ‘building’ regional and urban economic resilience. But the rush to use the idea of regional economic resilience in policy circles has arguably run somewhat ahead of our understanding of the concept. The term may be gaining common currency, but mere popularity is no guarantee of profundity. If we are to put the notion of resilience meaningfully to work in policy agendas and programmes, then we need to have a clear definition, conceptualization and understanding of precisely what it is that we are trying to foster. How should we define regional economic resilience? How do we operationalise the concept empirically? What makes one regional economy more resilient than another? Does a region’s resilience influence its long-run growth, and vice versa? Drawing on cognate ideas from ecology, complex systems theory, evolutionary biology, and economics, and using analyses of how the British regions have reacted to major recessionary shock over the past forty years, the paper illustrates some of the difficulties involved in using the idea of regional economic resilience and tries to move us closer to a clearer conception of the notion, thereby setting out an agenda that might inform future research on the topic.

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Speaker information

Professor Ron Martin,is Professor of Economic Geography University of Cambridge, where he is also President of St Catharine’s College, His research interests include regional growth and development, evolutionary economic geography and the geographies of money and finance. He has published 30 books and more than 200 articles on these and related themes. Ron has held the British Academy’s Thank-Offering to Britain Fellowship (1997-1998), and a Leverhulme Foundation Major Research Fellowship (2007-2010). He is an Academician of the Academy of Social Sciences (2002), a Fellow of the British Academy (2005) and an Honorary Fellow of the Regional Studies Association (2008). He was selected to give the Association of American Geographers’ prestigious Roepke Lecture in Economic Geography in 2009. He has held Visiting Professorships at Utrecht University, the University of California Los Angeles, and the University of Ancona. He has undertaken several major research programmes on regional growth and competitiveness for the European Commission, and provided advice to various UK Government Departments. His current research interests are on the development of an evolutionary perspective within economic geography and the analysis of spatial imbalance in the British economy. With colleagues in Cambridge, and Professor Peter Sunley in Southampton, he is presently engaged on an ESRC project on “How Regions React to Recessions: Resilience, Hysteresis and Long Run Impacts”.

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