Evolution of complexity in time and space

Session organisers:
  • Tom Broekel (University of Stavanger, Norway)
  • Lars Mewes (University of Hannover, Germany)

Researchers increasingly refer to the concept of (economic, technological, knowledge) complexity to explain regional development including economic growth and diversification as well as the spatial distribution and diffusion of innovative activities. Consequently, it is widely accepted that complexity is crucial for understanding key issues in the geography of knowledge and innovation. However, we still know little about the processes und mechanisms that are involved in the evolution of complexity. For example, many studies treat complexity as an exogeneous factor, whereas theories on knowledge complexity suggest it being endogenous and co-evolving with the socio-economic system. This special session invites scholars from different disciplines to exchange their perspectives on explaining complexity and on developing a better and more comprehensive understanding of its drivers and effects. More precisely, this special session particularly welcomes theoretical and empirical papers relating to the following questions:

  • Where do complex activities emerge and how do they diffuse?
  • How does complexity evolve over time?
  • Which actors enter more complex activities and how do they accomplish it?
  • How can policy support upgrading towards higher levels of complexity
  • What is the impact of FDI, migration, and institutions on the development of complexity?
  • How does complex knowledge relate to regional innovativeness, competitiveness, and growth?
  • How can the concept of knowledge complexity contribute to the design of innovation policy (i.e., cluster policy, smart specialization strategies…)?


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