SS10: The role of peripheries in innovation

Name and affiliations of the session organisers

  • Johannes Glückler (Heidelberg University)
  • Richard Shearmur (McGill University)
  • Kirsten Martinus (University of Western Australia)


The continued emphasis on innovation in urban and clustered settings has led many geographers to conceive peripheries as laggard and non-innovative. The periphery, whether of a territory or a network, has been assumed, at least implicitly, to be an inherently disadvantaged position relative to the center. Instead, knowledge and interactions – drivers of innovation – are held to be most accessible and advanced in (central) cities (Florida et al., 2017).

Recently, however, there have been a few efforts to explore innovation in peripheral regions (Glückler, 2014; Shearmur & Doloreux, 2016; Grabher, 2018; Power & Collins, 2021). Pugh and Dubois (2021) have criticized a conceptual fuzziness in discussion about peripheries and identify four problems with peripheries research:

  • the use of fuzzy language;
  • the negative discourse associated with peripheries;
  • the idea that peripheries can be objectively delineated; and
  • the inequality within peripheries.

These shortcomings have inspired a re-conceptualization of the role of the periphery in innovation (Glückler et al., 2023) that invites for a constructive appraisal of the particular characteristics that peripheral positions, both in networks and space, offer in support of the creation and diffusion of innovations. This special session serves to further the debate on the role of peripheries in innovation by inviting theoretical, methodological and empirical contributions that look, among others, at the following topics: 

  • Conceptualizations of periphery and innovation 
  • Methodological approaches to capturing periphery  
  • Analysis of innovation by peripheral actors, at peripheral places or in peripheral positions of networks 
  • Empirical analysis of innovation in geographical resource peripheries 
  • Studies of the role of periphery in technological innovation, incl. renewable energy, blockchain, AI, etc. 


Florida R, Adler P, Mellander C (2017) The city as innovation machine. Regional Studies 51(1), 86–96. 

Glückler J (2014) How controversial innovation succeeds in the periphery? A network perspective of BASF Argentina. Journal of Economic Geography 14(5), 903–927. 

Glückler J, Shearmur R, Martinus K (2023) Liability or opportunity? Reconceptualizing the periphery and its role in innovation. Journal of Economic Geography 23, 231–249. 

Grabher G (2018) Marginality as strategy: leveraging peripherality for creativity. Environment and Planning A 50(8), 1785–1794. 

Power D, Collins P (2021) Peripheral visions: the film and television industry in Galway, Ireland. Industry and Innovation 28(9), 1150–1174.

Pugh R, Dubois A (2021) Peripheries within economic geography: Four “problems” and the road ahead of us, Journal of Rural Studies, 87, 267-275.

Shearmur R, Doloreux D (2016) How open innovation processes vary between urban and remote environments: slow innovators, market-sourced information and frequency of interaction. Entrepreneurship & Regional Development 28(5–6), 337–357. 


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