Localisation or regionalisation? Digital platform-driven industrial restructuring and reconfiguration of smart production networks in China’s Greater Bay Area

  • 楊春, Chun (PI)
  • Li, Xun (External CoI)
  • Yu, Zhen (External CoI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


Manufacturing is amongst the many sectors that have undergone dramatic
transformation driven by the rise of digital platforms and widespread of disruptive technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI). Since the early 2010s, we have witnessed geographical restructuring of global production as reflected by the increasing government initiatives in selected advanced economies in terms of pro-reshoring policies seeking to localise/regionalise production empowered by digital technologies. Existing literature on reshoring/near-shoring has focused on the national-level analysis of western economies, such as Germany, the UK and the USA. The organisational and spatial reconfiguration of smart production enabled by AI technology in the global southern city-regions remain under-explored. This research aims to unpack the digital
platform-driven industrial restructuring and reconfiguration of smart production
networks in the Guangdong–Hong Kong–Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA), a dynamic city-region undergoing digital transformation in southern China.

The project is built on the decades of endeavours of the principal investigator in
industrial restructuring in China and particularly digital platform-driven regional
transformation in GBA established in recent fieldworks. Drawing upon the developing insights from economic geography literatures on industrial restructuring in the digital age of global economy, the research develops a multi-scalar analytical framework to explore the interplay between localisation and regionalisation dynamics in the reconfiguration of smart production networks. By employing comparative case study methods, the project examines and compares digital platform-driven restructuring of Hong Kong manufacturing in GBA in two interrelated dimensions: AI-enabled digitalisation of the established manufacturing in major production cities in GBA, such as Shenzhen, Dongguan, Huizhou, Guangzhou and Foshan, and reindustrialisationinitiated development of smart manufacturing in Hong Kong. A mixed-method approach
will be adopted for data collection and analysis through documentary research,
questionnaire survey and semi-structured interviews with concerned stakeholders involving indigenous and foreign digital platforms, AI tech companies, traditional and advanced manufacturing firms engaging in digitalisation, business associations, as well as regulatory authorities and policy makers at various levels of governments in GBA.

The project will extend existing literature on digital transformation dominated by consumer platforms to manufacturing domains and industrial restructuring. It will enrich the burgeoning debates on production network reconfiguration in smart manufacturing and digital technology industries. The findings will faciliate crosssectoral industrial policies pertaining to a new regional space of smart ‘world factory’ in GBA, particularly the reindustrialisation initiatives in Hong Kong. The project will generate research outcomes for international comparative studies of industrial restructuring in the digital era of Industry 4.0.
Effective start/end date1/01/2431/12/26


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