Table of Content

    10 December 2021, Volume 40 Issue 12 Previous Issue    Next Issue
    Towards global economic geographies: Strategic Coupling and Global Production Networks Research: An editorial for Geographical Research “Special Issue on Global Production Networks and Strategic Coupling in China”
    Henry Wai-chung YEUNG
    2021, 40 (12):  3253-3258. 
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    Since the early 2000s, global production networks (GPN) research has fundamentally addressed the global-local tensions first identified in Peter Dicken's Roepke Lecture in Economic Geography. As one major scholarly pillar of economic geography by the early 2020s, GPN research has undergone two phases of significant theoretical development, transiting from the earlier broad and general GPN framework to the more recent and explanatory GPN 2.0 theory. During this exciting period of theory development in GPN research, a key and novel concept of “strategic coupling” was first developed in Coe et al. and substantially further refined in Yeung. By today, this new concept has become one of human geography’s competitive “exports” to the social sciences at large! Interestingly and despite its substantial influence and governance typology, the global value chain approach does not offer a similar kind of core concept.
    In retrospect, the discovery of “strategic coupling” and its further conceptual development was serendipitous in nature, when several of us became frustrated with then the rather inward-looking debate about endogenous learning and new regionalism in economic geography and regional studies. Ann Markusen found many concepts in this new regionalism literature rather fuzzy and hard to operationalize in empirical research. We wanted to “globalize” this inward-looking approach to regional transformation and thus the concept was “born”, as part of GPN 1.0 framework, to describe how and why the global can be strategically “coupled” with the local through global production networks. In my book Strategic Coupling, I demonstrate much further the concept's empirical efficacy in explaining the industrial transformation of East Asian economies in the new global economy. Again, my aim was to challenge the predominant and inward-looking narrative that this transformation had been driven primarily by the developmental state in East Asia.
    Throughout the 2010s and thereafter, the concept “strategic coupling” has been hotly debated within the broad fields of economic geography, regional studies, international political economy, international business studies, and development studies. Many empirical studies across the social sciences and in East Asian studies have found the concept relevant to their diverse empirical analyses and explanations of local, regional, and national developmental trajectories in the changing world economy. In particular, most of these studies have deployed the concept to account for investment and technological linkages between local and foreign firms, cluster formation and evolution, industrial upgrading and regional change, transformations in local and regional innovation systems, urban and regional restructuring under globalization, and so on. These inter-disciplinary studies have not only added much empirical validity to the concept itself and the broader GPN 2.0 theory, but also provided further opportunities for us to take the concept to new domains and intellectual heights.
    In this spirit of the broadening appeal and relevance of “strategic coupling”, I have titled this editorial as “Towards global economic geographies” to encourage a more global understanding of the changing realities of economies geographies-defined both as an intellectual discipline within human geography and as the empirical world in which economic activities take place. As an intellectual discipline, global economic geographies is becoming particularly vibrant in the early 2020s. There is now a great deal of convergence of conceptual work on evolutionary economic geography, GPN research, financial geographies, and labour geographies. These are exciting times for highly productive cross-fertilizations in our collective intellectual endeavours.
    The empirical papers in this special issue of Geographical Research illustrate very well such strong tendencies towards integrated theoretical framing that draws upon not only the concept “strategic coupling” and GPN 2.0 theory, but also cutting-edge ideas in evolutionary economic geography, financial geographies, and labour geographies. The variegated empirical contexts of China also provide different sub-national “laboratories” that enable such cross-fertilizations to demonstrate their empirical relevance. The next step, though, is for these studies and voices from China to “speak back” to those fields within global economic geographies and, if possible, to add more theoretical contributions through what George Lin and I termed “theorizing back” almost two decades ago. I am happy to see that this special issue has systematically introduced and interpreted on the theorization of GPN 2.0. In line with two previous papers published in this journal about the progress of relational economic geography, the theories about strategic coupling have been well articulated for economic geographers in China.
    As the always-changing empirical world, global economic geographies in the 2020s are undergoing fundamental transformations due to several recent and unprecedented challenges, from the Covid-19 pandemic to rising geopolitical tensions and severe disruptions to global supply chains and global production networks. All of these changing global economic geographies provide enormous possibilities for us not only to test our existing theories and concepts, but also to identify new ideas and thinking. As I have argued in a forthcoming book, the interconnected worlds of yesteryear's global economic geographies might be giving way to, or intertwined with, the unexpected reversal of economic globalization and the incessant demand for regional and national resilience in a world of heightened uncertainty. These empirical trends towards localization and regionalization in global economic geographies will likely kickstart new rounds of strategic (de)couplings worldwide such that the restless landscape of contemporary capitalism, as argued a longtime ago in Storper and Walker's The Capitalist Imperative, will be reshaped and reorganized again. This time though, I believe East Asia, and China in particular, may well take the lead to re-Orient the global economy in its image.
    Looking forward, I hope readers of this special issue will gain both theoretical and empirical insights from these 15 well-crafted papers that address China's strategic coupling with the global economy in relation to its local and regional resilience, industrial and social upgrading, foreign investment and labour market dynamics, external trade and GPN risks, the challenge of technological innovation and intellectual property, building urban and regional clusters, and so on. As Chairman Mao said in his 1957 address in Beijing, “Letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend”. I believe the original concept “strategic coupling” and thereafter GPN 2.0 theory might well be one such flower and school of thought that can be much further contended through our collective research in and on global economic geographies. May thousand flowers blossom!

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    Theoretical problems of Global Production Network research and the implications to China
    CHEN Rui, LIU Yi
    2021, 40 (12):  3259-3271.  doi: 10.11821/dlyj020210621
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    Global Production Network (GPN), as the core theory in the school of relational economic geography, has been widely discussed and examined in mainstream economic geography and by researchers in China in recent two decades. However, the understanding towards its theoretical context, development and connotation is ambiguous to a certain extent. Some application misinterprets this theory mainly because of the lack of attention to the crucial influence of Global Value Chain (GVC) on the development of GPN. Therefore, this paper starts from critically reviewing how the GPN literature develops with continuous interactions with GVC, then explores how these two strands of research evolve from divergence to integration by reviewing the latest research on GPN, and clarifies some common misunderstandings in GPN research. This paper comes to three general conclusions regarding the recent development of GPN research. First, the theoretical goal of GPN research has moved from explaining value creation to uneven development, which makes it closer to the tradition of geographical studies. Second, the divergence between GPN and GVC has become narrower than before in terms of capturing global economic dynamics. Third, GPN research refers to a study that unpacks network dynamics to explain uneven regional development particularly. GPN is not an appropriate theory for studies that use a country as an analytical unit or reveal internal business issues of a firm. This paper also argues that exploring China stories requires proper GPN theoretical application, and offers an opportunity for GPN’s further theoretical development especially towards the dual-circulation strategy proposed recently by the Chinese government.

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    An analytical framework on regional economic resilience from the perspective of evolutionary strategic coupling
    HU Xiaohui, DONG Ke, YANG Yu
    2021, 40 (12):  3272-3286.  doi: 10.11821/dlyj020210293
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    In the contexts of on-going global political-economic shifting and shocks of multi-scalar crises, regional economic resilience has become one of the key themes in economic geography for exploring regional development dynamics. Regional economic resilience is not only about local economic configurations and adaptability, but also related to extra-regional dynamics. Thus, it paradigmatically requires adopting a geographically multi-scalar and dynamic network perspective. This paper attempts to integrate the concept of strategic coupling from the GPN theory into the EEG-based regional economic resilience thinking, and to comparatively review the literature related to the two parts by bibliometric methods. Based on that, by focusing on different modes of evolutionary strategic coupling (including coupling, decoupling, and recoupling), the paper constructs an analytical framework of regional economic resilience from the perspective of strategic coupling in evolution. The paper concludes that: (1) any mode of strategic coupling is an agency-based process of strategic change and context-responding, which can be regarded as the core to understand the scalarity and the source of ability for regional economic resilience. (2) The two concepts come across several epistemological similarities on “connectedness”, “contextual sensitivity” and “path development”, and their integration can help to advance the understanding of regional economic resilience. (3) The agent's agency, motives, the degree of embeddedness and modes of strategic coupling are the keys to understand the ability and mechanism of regional economic resilience. This can also help to form a “local-global relational interaction” perspective to comprehensively explore the structural properties (regional advantages), processes (recovery, renewal, and reorientation), ability (recoverability, transformability, and renewal ability), and consequences (multiple development paths) of regional economic resilience. This paper argues that the perspective of strategic coupling in evolution can deconstruct the conventional “regionalism” wisdom of regional economic resilience, which can systematically help explore the causal mechanism of multi-scalarity, multi-agentic processes and multi-factor involved impacts in regional economic resilience. Moreover, this study fosters the integrative innovation between the relational and evolutionary paradigm and makes a practical contribution to corporation decision-making and regional economic development in China under the current “Double Circulation” strategy.

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    Trade barriers, market related variety and export resilience of cities
    WANG Wenyu, REN Zhuoran, LI Wei, HE Canfei
    2021, 40 (12):  3287-3301.  doi: 10.11821/dlyj020210162
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    Along with the rise of trade barriers against China in recent years, the resilience of Chinese cities in the face of de-globalization era is an important topic of regional development. Existing literature generally focuses on the relationship between local industrial structure and regional resilience, but few scholars have discussed the role of export marketing structure. Based on the trade data of China's customs database from 2001 to 2016, this article explores how the related diversification of China's urban export markets affects the impacts of trade barriers on export resilience. This paper finds that: First, cities with a high degree of market-related diversification will decrease the risks at the receiving trade barriers from destination country. Second, the role of export market related variety is more obvious in cities with high FDI and economic zone. Third, trade barriers from developed countries will weaken the role of export market related variety. Based on empirical conclusions, this article believes that local governments should pay more attention to enhancing urban resilience and guide local firms to expand new markets through promoting exporters' agglomeration and attracting investment.

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    Trade policy uncertainty, export product complexity and firm agglomeration: The spatial restructuring of firms under risk environment
    LIU Junyang, ZHU Shengjun
    2021, 40 (12):  3302-3313.  doi: 10.11821/dlyj020210171
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    Nowadays, China's export firms face two major risks from export market dimension and product dimension. The former is embodied in the reflection of trade policy uncertainty on firms' production organization and export decisions, while the latter is embodied in the tough requirements on firms' technical level and production capacity when they aim at exporting high-tech products. Risks mentioned above can be understood as “regulatory risk” and “product risk” in the GPN 2.0 framework. This paper points out that in the face of the above risks, firms will seek local agglomeration in order to benefit from information spillover effect and productivity effect, and launch specific strategies to handle the risks. Based on the data of China Customs Trade Statistics from 2008 to 2016, this paper obtains the location information of firms, measures the agglomeration level of firms, as well as measures the regulatory risks and product risks faced by firms based on data about non-tariff barrier and product complexity. The empirical results show that the higher the uncertainty of the trade policy in the export market and the higher the technical complexity of the products produced by the firm, the more clustered the firms are, which verifies the above hypothesis to a certain extent. This paper attempts to integrate GPN2.0 framework and the classical agglomeration literature, and carries out a quantitative measure on the patterns and mechanisms of firms' spatial restructuring under risk environment, and presents a more dynamic and micro explanation on the mechanisms of spatial organization of global production network, which has certain theoretical and practical value.

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    Dynamic change of strategic coupling between global production networks and indigenous innovation networks: Take China's biopharmaceutical industry as an example
    WANG Luwei, WANG Tao, ZHANG Han
    2021, 40 (12):  3314-3332.  doi: 10.11821/dlyj020210010
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    We analyzed the international competitiveness of China's pharmaceutical industry under the ‘going out’ globalization strategy by constructing an Revealed Comparative Advantage Index, and synchronously analyzed the strategic coupling process between global production networks (GPN) and indigenous innovation networks (IIN) of China's biopharmaceutical industry under the ‘bringing in’ globalization strategy by identifying strategic connection types among enterprises. The super-efficiency SBM model was used to measure the GPN-IIN coupling performance, which reflects the city's efficiency in achieving the optimal goal of GPN-IIN strategic coupling. And reasons for spatiotemporal changes of GPN-IIN coupling performance were further explored from a static and dynamic perspective. Results showed that: (1) It is increasingly difficult for China's pharmaceutical industry to enter the North American market through re-export and processing trade. ASEAN and BRICS have become important export markets for China's pharmaceutical industry. Strengthening trade with the EU will help China form a high-standard free trade agreement network. (2) In 2000-2006, most FDI enterprises formed an industrial chain layout of ‘two heads out’ and were in a captured position in GPN. Most domestic enterprises had insufficient learning capabilities and were at the edge of IIN. In 2007-2013, some FDI enterprises shifted from the low-end of GPN value chain to high-end, and some domestic enterprises shifted from the edge of IIN to the core, but the transfer process had a strong loose footing. In 2014-2019, GPN-IIN strategic coupling overcame the problems of ‘insufficient embedding’ and ‘loose feet’, and relationship channels between GPN and IIN were increasingly stable. (3) GPN-IIN coupling performance had undergone the evolution of ‘large dispersion, small agglomeration → simple structure incubation → partial structure construction → differentiation of cascading order’. In this process, technological progress had the strongest promotion effect on GPN-IIN coupling performance, followed by scale efficiency, and pure technical efficiency was the weakest. Main reasons for restricting GPN-IIN coupling performance evolved along the path of ‘low-end lock-in of the value chain and insufficient promotion of enterprise types → excessive degeneration of enterprise types and slack social relationship → weakening of overseas business expansion and decoupling of capital-technological’.

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    Research on spatio-temporal heterogeneity of global cross-border e-commerce logistics resilience under the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic
    YU Jinyan, ZHANG Yingnan, LIU Weidong, XIAO Zuopeng
    2021, 40 (12):  3333-3348.  doi: 10.11821/dlyj020210414
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    The COVID-19 epidemic has brought a huge impact to globalization, and the cutting off of mobility is a major reason, especially the material shortage caused by the delayed logistics. As an important part of the supply chain, the efficiency and pattern of international logistics have undergone great changes under the impact of the epidemic. Based on the mining, calculation and analysis of the big data of the global epidemic and cross-border e-commerce logistics, this paper studies the spatio-temporal heterogeneity of logistics timeliness from the perspective of resilience, and analyzes the impact of variation characteristics of logistics, as well as the spatial pattern, stage difference and time process of resilience, combined with quantitative analysis of its influencing factors. It is found that under the impact of the epidemic, the timeliness of logistics presents the characteristics of "attenuation wave", showing obvious stages of resistance, recovery and resilience improvement. The logistics resilience of North America and Western Europe is relatively low, while that of Asia and its neighboring Central Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, West Asia and North Africa is relatively high, especially the difference of resistance stage is obvious. The global logistics recovery index is generally higher than the resistance index, and the resilience of some samples from North America, Western Europe and Oceania is weak. The time course can be divided into three periods, and presents a certain space conduction phenomenon: in the first six months, logistics resilience dropped rapidly and recovered steadily after difficult resistance. From the seventh to the eleventh months, the overall trend was good with local shocks. From the twelfth month to the thirteenth month, the overall trend recovered quickly after small fluctuations. The factors affecting the spatio-temporal heterogeneity of logistics resilience are relatively comprehensive, among which the logistics network and the severity of the epidemic are relatively significant.

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    Spatial pattern and influencing factors of China's foreign trade resilience under the COVID-19 pandemic
    ZONG Huiming, ZHANG Jiamin, LIU Huimin
    2021, 40 (12):  3349-3363.  doi: 10.11821/dlyj020210291
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    With the global outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the changing process of China's trade reflects the resilience of public health emergencies to global and local trade. This article draws on the theory of regional economic resilience to conduct research on China's trade resilience and its spatial pattern. This article uses China's 31 provinces (municipalities and autonomous regions) as the research unit and reviews the overall situation of national trade and the trade resilience pattern of all the provinces from January 2020 to December 2020. We explore the factors affecting China's trade resilience pattern under the impact of the pandemic using the model of geographic detectors. The research finds that: (1) According to the trade data compared with the same period of the previous year, China's foreign trade resilience under the COVID-19 pandemic can be clearly divided into two phases, namely, resistance period (from January to May 2020, and recovery period (after May 2020). (2) Under the influence of the pandemic, the trade resilience of various provinces varies significantly. The regions with poor trade resistance are mainly provinces with poor trade foundations, severely-affected pandemic influencing areas and border provinces, and the areas with good trade recovery are mainly inland provinces. (3) There are many factors that affect China's trade resilience under the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, the situation of COVID-19 pandemic of the biggest foreign trade partner, the number of trading partners, and local pandemic situation have the highest explanation for its trade resistance. The factors with the highest degree of explanation of trade recovery are the level of economic development and the status of the pharmaceutical industry. In addition, the interaction between the factors enhances the spatial differentiation of China's trade resistance and resilience at the provincial level. The discussion on the pattern of China's trade resilience and its influencing factors has important theoretical value for understanding the globalization process under the impact of emergency events and the assessment of regional trade resilience, and also contribute to the establishment of a "dual circulation" development pattern, in which domestic economic cycle plays a leading role while international economic cycle is still its extension and supplement.

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    The effect of economic upgrading on social upgrading in China under economic globalization
    ZHOU Jin, HUANG Gengzhi
    2021, 40 (12):  3364-3381.  doi: 10.11821/dlyj020210292
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    The nexus between social upgrading and economic upgrading has received much attention within economic geography, yet remains under-researched. This paper establishes a comprehensive quantitative index to measure social upgrading from four dimensions, namely, employment, social security, basic rights and social dialogue. Based on econometric models, this study reveals the driving factors of each dimension and the relationship between economic upgrading, economic globalization, governance and social upgrading. The results show that: (1) Different dimensions of social upgrading are affected unevenly by economic upgrading, economic globalization and governance. Employment is mainly positively affected by government regulation. Social security is mainly positively affected by the improvement of social labor productivity. Basic rights are mainly positively affected by the economic quality, innovation input, and import trade. Social dialogue is positively affected by the economic quality and benefit, innovation input, innovation efficiency and foreign capital. (2) While economic upgrading promotes social upgrading, governance plays a mediation role in this relationship. Economic globalization plays a negative moderating role regarding economic upgrading and social upgrading, but a positive moderating role within the governance’s mediation. These relationships show that governance plays a critical character in promoting the transformation from economic upgrading to social upgrading and the effect can be enhanced under economic globalization. This study contributes to exploring the mechanisms of how economic upgrading promotes social upgrading, which provides a theoretical basis for the co-development of China's economy and society.

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    The impact of strategic coupling on regional economic resilience under globalization: A case study of Guangdong province
    LIU Yi, JI Jiehan, XU Tingting, ZHANG Xiaolin
    2021, 40 (12):  3382-3398.  doi: 10.11821/dlyj020210372
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    Relational economic geography and evolutionary economic geography, two main genres in nowadays economic geography, are searching for theoretical dialogue and integration. Strategic coupling, a key variable of relational economic geography, is lack of dynamic perspective of regional long-term evolution, while regional economic resilience, a key variable of evolutionary economic geography, neglects the influence on the region of external economy system. Furthermore, the lack of quantitative research in strategic coupling becomes one of the obstacles to integration between the two schools. Therefore, this study takes 21 cities in Guangdong province as examples, preliminarily constructs strategic coupling variables, and uses regression analysis, geographic detector and other methods to explore the impact of strategic coupling on regional economic resilience in combination with existing research results. This study has three main conclusions: (1) Strategic coupling has a significant impact on regional economic resilience. The dependence of production on foreign capital has the greatest impact, followed by the technological advantage of foreign capital. (2) Due to the differences of cooperation modes in strategic coupling, the influence of capital from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan of China and other foreign capital on regional economic resilience is different in terms of production dependence and technological leadership of foreign capital. (3) The traditional globalization variables, such as GDP, FDI and total export, are less important in the study of the relationship between strategic coupling and regional economic resilience, because they cannot accurately locate the interaction among the components of global production network. This study quantifies strategic coupling and global production network, further realizes the theoretical dialogue between relational economic geography and evolutionary economic geography, innovates the quantitative measurement method, and provides a reference for further quantification study of strategic coupling and global production network.

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    The spatiotemporal evolution of the division of labour of Chinese electronics and communication industry in global production networks under the impact of global trade protection and local intellectual property institution
    WANG Xiangyu, YE Yuyao, Nicholas A. Phelps, WU Kangmin, HUANG Gengzhi, WANG Yang, ZHANG Hong'ou
    2021, 40 (12):  3399-3419.  doi: 10.11821/dlyj020210640
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    China's electronics and communication industry is increasingly restricted by the international trade protection institution. The local intellectual property institution and international trade barriers jointly affect the division of labour in the global production network of China's electronics communication industry. Institution is an important common element of the two paradigms-evolutionary economic geography and GPN. However, the fusion of research on the industrial evolution, institutional change and the dynamic change of regional industries embedded in GPN is not enough in existing literature. Extant literature is insufficient to discuss the diverse and complex effects of supranational institutions and regional institutions on regional industries embedded in GPN. Using the data on China's international trade and related institutions from 2002 to 2016, this study analyses the spatiotemporal effects of international trade protection and local intellectual property institutions on China's electronics communications industry's participation in international division of labour based on time series model and spatial convergence analysis. It is found that in the long run, trade barriers help to improve the level of horizontal labour division for China as a whole, the eastern and central regions. The eastern region is more responsive to the institutions, and trade barriers have a stronger impact on the position change of the eastern region's industry in the international division of labour. The influence of intellectual property protection on the division of labour evolution of regional industries embedded in GPN is not the same in different regions, and the influence is not significant. As a whole, the spatial differences of international division of labour in China's electronics communication industry have decreased. The difference in the eastern region widened, while that in the central region narrowed. Trade barriers lead to increase of regional differences year by year, while intellectual property protection helps to narrow regional differences. In the future, when formulating relevant policies and institutions, it is necessary to take measures according to local conditions and take into account the different development stages of electronics and communication industry in different regions, so as to realize the growth of both the export volume and the added value of products.

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    Resilience characteristics and influencing factors of electronic information industry clusters in the Yangtze River Delta under the impact of crisis
    ZHU Huayou, LI Na, ZHUANG Yuanhong, JIANG Ziran
    2021, 40 (12):  3420-3436.  doi: 10.11821/dlyj020210500
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    The current economic environment is complex and changing, while industrial clusters are facing more and more shocks. Some clusters are likely to achieve path breakthroughs, while some may fall into the low-end trap of development and find it difficult to extricate themselves. Therefore, studying the resilience characteristics of industrial clusters under the crisis shock, the influencing factors and how to embark on the road to recovery is an important issue for the researchers. The Yangtze River Delta region, as China's famous electronics and information industry cluster, presents characteristics such as technology and capital intensive, innovation active and highly globalised. However, its highly externally oriented development model makes it deeply embedded in the global value chain and at the same time more vulnerable to external shocks and risks. This paper uses the China Industrial Enterprise Database to identify the electronic information industry clusters in the Yangtze River Delta region, determine the main shocks to which they are subjected, measure cluster resilience in two dimensions: resistance and recovery, and build a mathematical model to analyse the factors influencing resilience. The research results show that: (1) Under different crisis shocks, the industry clusters show different resiliences, mainly in that firstly, the resistance of the cluster is weaker in resisting two shocks, and secondly, the recovery of each cluster differs significantly after encountering shocks. In particular, the higher the proportion of exports in the financial crisis, the more vulnerable the region was to the economic crisis. (2) Cluster types have different characteristics and show different resiliences. The resilience of exogenous clusters is mainly reflected in the “low resistance-high recovery” type and “high resistance-low recovery” type, while the resilience of endogenous clusters is mainly reflected in the “low resistance-high recovery” type. (3) There are partial differences in the factors affecting cluster resilience under different crisis shocks. The non-related diversity of regional industries only contributes to cluster recovery in two shocks and has no significant effect on resistance. Regional industry-related diversification had no significant effect on both resistance and recovery in two shocks. Among intra-cluster firm heterogeneity, only knowledge heterogeneity positively contributes to cluster resistance and recovery, while cluster openness to the outside world plays a suppressive role in general. The leading firms acted in different directions on cluster resistance under the two shocks. The role of ownership heterogeneity and the share of young firms in influencing cluster resilience is not significant.

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    Examining the relationship of functional polycentricity and specialized industrial agglomeration in the metropolitan area of the Pearl River Delta
    ZHAO Miaoxi, SHI Haochen, WANG Huiqin
    2021, 40 (12):  3437-3454.  doi: 10.11821/dlyj020210049
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    Industrial agglomeration in metropolitan areas is widely regarded as the consequence of sharing markets and reduction of transaction costs. Many scholars believe that frequent functional links among various cities in metropolitan areas can help to form a multi-center system of professional division of labors, which is considered as an ideal spatial structure model. Thus, based on the theory of complementary polycentricity, this study explored the conceptual models of corporate spatial organization and special industrial agglomeration in the polycentric city region. Because functional activities will be located in certain areas of the city region and thus improve the level of division of labor, we develop the indicators for measuring the size of special industrial agglomeration in line with the existing measurements of Location Entropy and the similar methodologies by Krugman. Our research indicated that development of headquarter-branch links crossing boundaries in the Pearl River Delta (PRD) resulted into much denser networks in this mega-city region, then it led to higher level of functional polycentricity in the PRD. During the period of 2008-2017, headquarters inclined to concentrate in several central cities while the geography of branches did not indicate industrial specialization. In the process of functional polycentricity by the cooperate spatial organization in the PRD, headquarters were more likely to be located in central city of Shenzhen than in Guangzhou, while more branches were distributed in areas such as Baoan and central city of Huizhou, both of them adjacent to the central city of Shenzhen. Although development of internet and transportation technologies permitting companies setting up branches in the hinterlands, physical distance is still one of the key factors constraining firms to locate offices far away in the PRD, we also found the truth that this world workshop in the PRD indicated by many “Special Towns” has been shifting to the urbanized economy dominated by service industry since 2008. Our research revealed that connections between headquarters and branches across regions did lead to the polycentricity of the PRD, while the geography of these offices, especially the branches, indicated no significant industrial specialization. What’s more, some companies in the adjacent areas of mega cities of Guangzhou and Shenzhen set up branch offices in the central cities. As the decline of manufacturing towns in Shunde and Dongguan, subregion areas such as Baoan and Central Huizhou near Shenzhen attracted many service offices setting up branches, which also results in the relative decline of Guangzhou as the commercial center in the PRD. The economic transition of “down to up” organization by the massive firms resulted from the two major cities of Guangzhou and Shenzhen in the PRD.

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    From global to local: Environmental upgrading of the furniture industry in Dongguan
    SHEN Jing, WANG Yibin, CAO Yuanyuan
    2021, 40 (12):  3455-3469.  doi: 10.11821/dlyj020210228
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    Research on environmental upgrading through embedding of local industrial chains in global value chains (GVC) is an evolving subject within the field of economic geography. The environmental upgrading driven by lead firms in GVC is discussed in existing literature, though few case studies on the environmental upgrade paths of industries in developing countries. Using the furniture industry in Dongguan as a case study, this research details the process of embedding a specific industrial chain in GVC. This particular case is typical due to the timing of global market access, resulting in a fledgling industry, comprised of small furniture manufacturing companies, being embedded in GVC. This transforms a nascent industry into the largest furniture distribution, exhibition, and trading center in Asia. Consequently, significant function improvement and environmental upgrading occurs in parallel with manufacturing process and product improvement where market demands require higher standards. Through semi-structured interviews with key players within the industry, such as manufacturers, resellers, part enterprises and local governments, this study charts exact paths of environmental upgrading during the embedding process. The result of the study is an understanding of how environmental upgrading of industries in developing countries has responded to changing demands from the international and domestic markets. The distinction paths of between the international and domestic market, have been observed in environmental upgrading of Dongguan's furniture industry. Lead firms have engaged in environmental upgrading through requiring local enterprises meet standards and certifications, which are treated as another way to squeeze suppliers. The environmental upgrading led by international markets is also locked in a limited range. A niche for environmentally green furniture had been created in domestic markets to use environmental upgrading to capture value for environment, which helps the formation of sustainable production system in local furniture industry. In this case, the core mechanisms driving the transition in Dongguan are isolated such that they can be quantified and replicated for other industries in developing countries. The results make practical contributions in an improved understanding of the environmental upgrading through China's industry transition from global export-oriented economy to domestic circulation economy.

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    The role of government departments in mediating shock-driven coupling ruptures: A case study of Kunshan, China
    WU Di, DING Jing, YUAN Feng
    2021, 40 (12):  3470-3482.  doi: 10.11821/dlyj020210168
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    Since 2020, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused huge impacts on people's health and daily life, as well as economic development and employment worldwide. People were quarantined, transportation was blocked, and borders were closed. As a result of the pandemic, global production networks (GPNs), which organize production in a highly decentralized form and in a global scale, have been negatively affected to the greatest extent. This phenomenon demonstrates the temporary, shock-driven discontinuities and ruptures of strategic couplings in GPNs, which tend to be relatively overlooked in the existing GPN literature. In China, when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out earliest, a large number of firms and factories were shut down and its economy once came to a standstill. However, China's economy soon recovered. This article argues that the rapid recovery has largely been driven by the strong, active and effective interventions of Chinese government actors at various levels, including the Chinese central as well as local and regional governments. This article uses the case of Kunshan in Jiangsu province as a case study to illustrate how the local government in particular played key roles in enabling and facilitating the restoration of coupling ruptures. Kunshan is highly plugged into GPNs, with a high level of foreign direct investments and exports. As such, it was heavily affected by the global pandemic initially. Specifically, this article illustrates four inter-connected problems that globally-plugged firms tended to face under the economic shock caused by the pandemic, that is, in terms of their access to the market, suppliers, labour, and finance. This article then shows how the local government of Kunshan utilized and mobilized the unique power and resources, namely, local industrial information, coordinating capacity, policy tools, and resource allocation capacity, to help firms overcome such challenges and in turn enabled and facilitated Kunshan's recovery from coupling ruptures. However, this article demonstrates the limitations of the local government alone in mediating crisis-driven coupling ruptures.

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    The strategy coupling evolution mechanism of TNCs' local embeddedness and regional development from the perspective of labor: Take Foxconn in Zhengzhou investment as an example
    CHEN Xiaofei, HAN Tengteng, ZHAO Ziyu, MIAO Changhong
    2021, 40 (12):  3483-3496.  doi: 10.11821/dlyj020210166
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    Local embeddedness of transnational corporations (TNCs) within global production networks (GPNs) deserves academic attention. Most current studies on the embeddedness of TNCs have focused on industrial linkages, technological spillovers, and social network, whereas labor market has not been given much attention. Taking Foxconn in Zhengzhou as a case study, this paper combines the theoretical perspectives of labor geography and new economic geography, based on the follow-up survey of Foxconn in Zhengzhou from 2017 to 2021. Some conclusions can be drawn as follows: (1) Under the interaction of global network dynamics and local regional dynamics, local location advantages and enterprise spatial stickiness have changed significantly. The strategic coupling mode of TNCs' local embeddedness and regional development is still dependent on coupling. (2) From the perspective of labor, the strategic coupling evolution of TNCs' local embeddedness and regional development is mainly controlled by the company's attribute characteristics and labor employment mode (including enterprise nature, employment mode, product cycle, wages and benefits, etc.), regional demographic dividend and labor supply pattern, government intermediary policy and labor behavior choice, etc. (3) In order to promote the strategic coupling between local embeddedness and regional development of labor-intensive TNCs, maintaining the elasticity of labor market and encouraging multinational corporations to realize the regionalization of production network should be regarded as two basic dimensions for national and local governments to formulate policies. The research results can not only effectively make up for the neglect of the role of labor in the coupling of TNCs' local embeddedness and regional development strategy, but also provide empirical support for the strategic coupling relationship between labor-intensive multinational corporations and regional development through typical cases.

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