The long-term development paths of cities and regions are shaped by a never-ending process of restructuring, with some cities and regions achieving fast growth over long period while others lock into a trajectory of relative and sometimes absolute decline. Nonetheless, in some cases, some lagging regions and cities find renewed growth and previously vibrant cities and regions may lose momentum. It appears that economic restructuring benefit some cities and regions and puts others at a disadvantage. The set of existing economic, political, and also social and cultural activities and functions in a city or region is important in this regard, and will determine whether a city or region can be at the forefront of such restructurings, can position itself to benefit from new rounds of investment and innovation, and can achieve more sustainable development, or instead will lose out and become marginalized. The variety in the development of cities and regions in the context of constant restructuring in the economy defies predictions of a clear-cut convergence or divergence, and instead leads to an intricate pattern of uneven development depending on a multitude of factors. Such combined and uneven development between cities and regions has of course long been a central research topic within economic geography, regional science and urban studies.
The emergence of China is one of the main drivers of the restructuring of the world economy, although it faces challenges as it seeks to restructure its own model of development and industrialization by embracing more sustainable and regionally balanced development and urbanization. This conference will take place in Peking University in Beijing, China - a city or region facing challenges of industrial upgrading, air pollution and diseconomies of agglomeration, although it is already one of the most developed region or city in China.
The aim of this conference is to think about how to better conceptualize and empirically explore the development of (and between) cities and regions in the context of a new round of restructuring in the world economy, triggered by the 2007/8 global economic crisis. This is particularly timely for several reasons. First, cities and city-regions have assumed increasing prominence over the last few decades in discussions about economic development, and with this there is a renewed interest in explaining deep-rooted differences in performance. Second, evolutionary perspectives and transitions to sustainable development have established themselves as key reference points in theorizing current economic, social and environmental challenges. Yet more work needs to be done to further develop these conceptual advances for understanding the long-term development of cities and regions and the necessary spatial governance, and for working out relevant policy implications. Finally, even though some studies, both qualitative and quantitative, have emerged in recent years, most studies have had a limited geographical reach, particularly on the US and Europe. Consequently, there appears scope for work on the global south and emerging economies, and more importantly, for improved interaction between scholars from different parts of the world.