The transformation of foreign investment-induced ‘exo(genous)-urbanisation’ amidst industrial restructuring in the Pearl River Delta, China

Chun YANG*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The 2010s have witnessed a growing body of literature on urban transformation and industrial restructuring in the global south, particularly China. However, insufficient attention has been paid to the interplay between the parallel processes in the transition of globalisation. The existing literature on urban transformation and industrial restructuring in China has focused on the analysis of internal dynamics at the national level, whereas the evolution of the lower levels of urban and rural settlements (i.e. towns and villages) in the changing dynamics of globalisation has not been thoroughly discussed. Drawing on the evolutionary notion of ‘strategic coupling’ from Global Production Network (GPN) theory, this study attempts to highlight connections between urban transformation and industrial restructuring in China. Particular attention is paid to the ongoing industrial upgrading, relocation and transformation that started in the mid-2000s, and the subsequent effects on the prevalent foreign direct investment (FDI)-induced exo(genous)-urbanisation in the Pearl River Delta (PRD). Drawing on years of extensive field investigation, particularly in-depth interviews with entrepreneurs, officials, migrants and villagers in representative towns in Dongguan, the current study argues that exo-urbanisation has undergone a paradigm shift and uneven patterns of transformation. Some towns (e.g. Humen and Chang’an) have witnessed stagnation due to the deliberate decoupling of low-skilled migrant labour and labour-intensive firms, whereas others (e.g. Songshanhu) have developed into high-tech zones driven by the strategic recoupling of technology-based domestic firms and a high-skilled workforce. This study sheds light on new avenues for future research on industrial restructuring and urban transformation amidst the changing global–local dynamics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)618-635
Number of pages18
JournalUrban Studies
Volume57
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Urban Studies

User-Defined Keywords

  • global production networks
  • globalisation
  • industrial restructuring
  • local government
  • recoupling and decoupling
  • strategic coupling
  • urban transformation
  • urbanisation

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