Workshop Call

Call for Papers – In-Person Workshop & Special Issue on “The Political Economy of Local Development in the Semiperiphery”


Workshop convenors and Special Issue editors:

Sonja Avlijaš (University of Belgrade – Faculty of Economics)

Kira Gartzou-Katsouyanni (European Institute, LSE)

Date & Location

Friday, 20 May 2022 @University of Belgrade – Faculty of Economics, Serbia

Event summary

An interdisciplinary workshop towards a Special Issue on “The Political Economy of Local Development in the Semiperiphery” will take place on 20 May 2022 at the University of Belgrade’s Faculty of Economics, the host of Dr Sonja Avlijas’ Marie Sklodowska-Curie SEEGROW project. The second workshop, intended to finalise the Special Issue, is envisaged to take place during the autumn of 2022 at the European Institute of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), where Dr Kira Gartzou-Katsouyanni is an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow (date TBC).

Limited travel expenses and two nights’ accommodation can be covered by workshop organisers.

This initiative follows up on the discussions that started in the three panels titled “The Political Economy of Local Development in the Semiperiphery” that Sonja Avlijaš and Kira Gartzou-Katsouyanni organised during the 2021 Council for European Studies (CES) and Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE) conferences. Papers presented at the Belgrade workshop in May will be further invited for consideration of the Special Issue and for the autumn workshop at the LSE. More details about submission to the journal will be provided later.

The topic

Recent electoral outcomes have made it apparent that the collapse of people’s life chances along the lines of place can trigger profound political instability. This is one of the reasons why leveraging deeper economic integration and ongoing technological advancements to build capabilities for growth, innovation and resilience in a socially, but also geographically inclusive way is a key challenge of our time. The coronavirus pandemic and the climate crisis are reinforcing this growing focus on the consequences of large socioeconomic inequalities and geographical cleavages among areas that are thriving and areas that are suffering in the context of globalization. Indeed, building more resilient regions amid radical uncertainty has become a key concern for policymakers. This workshop aims to bring together and help amplify the work of an interdisciplinary community of scholars who use the concepts, theories and methods of political economy to advance our understanding of how inclusive, sustainable economic development can be fostered at the local level, even in places where the obstacles are high.

Our geographical focus is on countries that are neither part of the global “core” nor the “periphery”, but fall somewhere in between, in the “semi-periphery”. While scholars and policymakers have devoted considerable effort to understanding the determinants of economic development and innovation in the Global South as well as in the most technologically sophisticated sectors of advanced economies, the issue is also of great significance in the many and politically important parts of the world that do not fit neatly in either of the two categories, but contain elements of both. Hence, our ambition is to draw insights from the political economy of both the highly advanced and the developing world, while paying particular attention to the specific types of obstacles that semi-peripheral countries face. Albeit in a context of relative political stability and absence of extreme poverty, those obstacles may include a weak framework of formal institutions that fails to reduce transaction costs and promote cooperation among economic actors; state capture by political parties and interest groups; labour and skills shortages, including due to rapid emigration rates; low levels of interpersonal trust; path dependencies from previous development models that can no longer underpin a high value-added local economy; and others.

In such unfavourable contexts, how can sustainable, inclusive, and resilient models of development be achieved at the local level? Local economic actors are interdependent with the communal resources they have at their disposal, such as access to human capital, experience and know-how, sustainably reproduced production inputs like soil and water, as well as other types of local public goods like public amenities and a place-based brand name. Under which conditions can such communal resources be provided, preserved and amplified in environments where the local actors’ incentives are not oriented towards that direction? In economies with fragmented ownership structures in particular, cooperation among economic actors plays a key role for the supply of local public goods and for increasing the productivity of local firms. Through which mechanisms can the obstacles to cooperation be overcome in adverse contexts, helping local actors to improve their economic performance and resilience?

We are interested in a variety of factors that can help address those questions, including, but not limited to:

1. Strategies to catalyse change in local formal and informal institutions, as well as in local governance mechanisms, to better support cooperation, innovation and inclusion

2. The configuration of successful, inclusive local developmental coalitions of actors

3. Local factors that promote resilience, resourcefulness and innovation, such as translocal networks, historical legacies of previous types of economic activity, and others

4. Overarching institutional frameworks and policies that have a positive impact on the capabilities of local actors to increase their productivity and/ or resilience

5. The motivation of local actors for adopting innovative strategies to address challenges faced by their local sector and/ or community. 

How to apply

Please send a paper abstract of up to 500 words to both workshop convenors by 15 March 2022. A paper draft will be requested by early May. We encourage proposals from a variety of disciplines, including political economy, political science, economic geography, management, public policy, and other related disciplines. Given our emphasis on the puzzle of successful development strategies in unfavourable contexts, we would particularly appreciate contributions that include some findings or reflection on how the many adversities faced by local actors in semi-peripheral areas can, in some instances, be overcome.

The University of Belgrade workshop is envisaged as a small-scale one-day event with a total of 8-10 presentations. In-person attendance is generally required. Limited travel expenses and two nights’ accommodation can be covered by workshop organisers. We may be able to accommodate virtual participation for a minority of participants who are unable to attend in person.

Contact details

Sonja Avlijaš (

Kira Gartzou-Katsouyanni (



This workshop has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 895519. The information on this website does not reflect the opinion of the European Union. The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained herein.