The paper addresses one neglected issue in the study of regional integration: the impact of geographical and temporal (historical) factors on a countryâ€™s development. We refer to the emerging regional partitioning of variable geometry as a context of development. On the basis of this central premise, this study aims to contribute to the ongoing debate on the spatial complexity of economies with a mapping exercise delineating a self-supporting area of development. Firstly, the paper surveys modern thought to emphasize the need of embracing a broad analytical approach for a reliable representation of the spatial configurations of economies. A unifying analytical framework is proposed with a view to re-imagining territories in terms of their identifiers, functionalities and policy space.Secondly, the paper presents the findings of two statistical tests (cluster analysis and vertical and horizontal indices of intra-industry trade) to infer some experimental propositions about homogenous areas of development. Our statistical exercise produces European country groupings resembling familiar geopolitical partitions, but also suggests novel interpretations in regard to a countryâ€™s context of development. Paperâ€™s key insight implies that drawing context boundaries is an essential step to reveal the contextual origins of development and, ideally, to capitalize on them by suggesting tangible policy implications (for example, about adopting a common currency). Development is informed as much by traditional tenets of economic theory as by new theses of cultural economic geography making the case for a space of development of variable geometry.
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