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Territorial development: significance, theoretical foundations and applied examples

Abstract Deadline: 24th February 2020

Attention: Due to a problem with the guest editor's email address this call has been updated. If you have submitted an abstract prior to the 7th February 2020, please re-send this to [email protected] for consideration in this special issue.

Please accept our apologies for the inconvenience. 

The notion of territorial development occupies an increasing place in the literature and in the discourse of politicians and policy makers. It is slowly replacing the concept of regional development, which refers above all to a macroeconomic approach – that of large flows of internal exchanges and pipelines with other regions or neighboring nations. In contrast, the question of territorial development addresses with another level – that of the inhabitants of territories, local stakeholders, firms and farms. It also devotes interest to local arrangements and forms of cooperation between local actors, as well as their oppositions and conflicts. The concern is more microeconomic and the approach takes into account the characteristics and culture of local societies.

Since the 1980s researchers have often linked the concept of territorial development to the existence of local production or innovation systems, such as clusters, districts or innovative milieus, and have shown that development can occur in communities of locally related small and medium size producers. Today we realize that this conception is important but that it is not sufficient to describe the whole dimension of territorial development. Indeed, other types of initiatives at the local level must be taken into account, such as alternative experiments in peripheral or lagging territories, like leader programs for example. We must also consider other types of innovations, like the dimensions of the circular economy, such as territorial metabolism or short and local food chains, which raise the question of resource sustainability and energy transition, but also social and institutional innovations such as social cooperatives or new forms of services. Issues of territorial capital are, then, crucial, as they determine the types of resources mobilized to foster development, as well as their implementation.

Thus, the notion of territorial development evokes economic, social and institutional evolutions that are more or less autonomous or independent of those of nations, or even of regions. More generally, it is important to recognize processes which take place at a sub-regional level and which in turn recognize the position of local populations, with the definition of different categories of stakeholders and their involvement in decision-making and development choices, or even local democracy processes. It is time to look carefully at the definition of these processes and group them into a coherent set of reflections, and to illustrate them with particular examples of the different forms of innovation which contribute to these evolutions.

Guest Editor

André Torre, University Paris-Saclay

[email protected]

Submissions Information

This Special Issue will include articles presenting research on territorial development, based on empirical research, including comparative studies or statistical and econometric analyses. Contributions are also sought which open the door to theoretical reflections on the very nature and characteristics of territorial development processes. It is important to establish the legitimacy of this concept, to define its meaning and implications more precisely, and to make contributions to the theoretical framework under construction.

Papers might address the following questions, although submissions should not be limited to these ideas:

  • What are the main theoretical bases for a territorial development analysis?
  • What are the roots and the foundations of this approach?
  • What is the difference between regional and territorial development, if indeed they are different?
  • What is the importance of territorial governance and the participation of local stakeholders?
  • What is the scope of territorial development?
  • Is territorial development reserved to peripheral or rural areas?
  • Is territorial development devoted to alternative ways of development (like the circular economy, local products-based approaches, cooperative behaviors, etc.) or is it applicable to all kinds of territories?


The Special Issue Guest Editor welcomes papers for consideration from academics and researchers in economics, planning and geography, especially those with an interest in territorial development, territorial innovation, territorial capital, multi-level governance, local cooperative behaviors, clusters and local systems, circular economy, social or institutional innovations.

Authors interested in publishing in the Special Issue should, in the first instance, submit a 400 word abstract to [email protected] by 24th February 2020.

Full papers must be received by 30th September 2020.

Submissions will be subject to Regional Studies’s normal rigorous peer review process. Details of Regional Studies’s publication process, evaluation criteria and style are available on the journal’s website.

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