© 2020

Local Dynamics of Industrial Upgrading

The Case of the Pearl River Delta in China


Part of the Economic Geography book series (ECOGEO)

About this book


This book examines industrial upgrading in China’s Pearl River Delta (PRD), with a specific focus on how strategic coupling impacts industrial upgrading from the perspective of relational economic geography. It shows that firms in the PRD have been struggling after serving as low-tier suppliers and subcontractors for transnational corporations for two decades, since the 1980s opening reform in China. Indigenous innovation and direct state support have fostered the success of a few firms, but not the majority. 

In response, many local firms are now taking advantage of the opportunities to be found in global production networks, which link the PRD with the global economy. This book elaborates on how these opportunities are embedded and identified in global production networks with regard to different types of strategic coupling. It not only renews the theory of strategic coupling in economic geography, but also demonstrates potential strategies that latecomer firms can pursue, and which can have major implications for many developing countries and regions. 


Globalization Industrial Upgrading Global Production Network Strategic Coupling Regional Development Latecomer Economy Innovation Industrial Cluster Agglomeration The Pearl River Delta, China

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.School of Tourism ManagementSun Yat-sen UniversityGuangzhouChina

About the authors

Yi Liu is an Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Tourism Management and Planning at the School of Tourism Management, Sun Yat-sen University, China. He obtained his Ph.D. degree in Economic Geography from the National University of Singapore in 2012. His research interests include economic geography and globalization, transnational corporations, global production networks, industrial upgrading and tourism-economic geography. He has published more than 20 academic papers in various high-impact SSCI/SCI journals, including Regional Studies Tourism Management, Urban Geography, and Eurasian Geography and Economics, which have focused on the evolutionary political economy, new developmental models and the trajectories of regional development in China.

Bibliographic information