Journal of Regional Research (Investigaciones Regionales)

Special Issue on Industry 4.0 and sustainability in firms, clusters & industrial districts and

SPONSORED by AICO 2020/123 and AEI/FEDER EU RTI2018-095739-B-100
Coordinator: Professor Dr. JOSE-LUIS HERVAS-OLIVER

Industry 4.0; digitization of SMEs; sustainability; regions; clusters; industrial districts

This Special Issue addressed Sustainability and Industry 4.0 topics. Generally, Industry 4.0 encompasses the digitization of manufacturing, constituting the manufacturing-dedicated digitization of business and industries. Industry 4.0 is also known as the Industrial Internet of Things and refers to a new paradigm of digital-based manufacturing and industrial inter-firm connected value (e.g., Kagermann et al., 2013). The concept includes different digital enabling technologies, such as the Internet of Things, Additive Manufacturing, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Augmented and Virtual Reality, and Blockchain, among others. Industry 4.0 in clusters and regions is nascent. How does Industry 4.0 shape industrial clusters and districts? What are the fundamental policy initiatives developed to fit Industry 4.0 to
clusters, regional development and firm competitiveness? In addition, sustainability constitute a critical topic in regions, clusters, districts and innovation systems. Sustainability (e.g. circular economy, SDG, eco-design, environmental impacts, etc.) are of utmost importance for shaping regions and their innovation. Thus, a cross-disciplinary approach (from business, clusters, regions, policymakers, etc.) is required to fully understand the complexity of the challenge. We believe that scholars from different perspectives meeting at the regional space stimulate discussion for cross-fertilizing.

This Special Issue attempts to provide a cross-fertilization of different literatures and perspectives, integrating firm innovation, competitiveness and clusters/regional literature.


  • How does Industry 4.0 shape firms in industrial clusters’ and regions’ competitiveness?
  • Industry 4.0 in cluster firms: individual and collective strategies
  • How does Industry 4.0 promote collective actions for cluster firms transition into digitization?
  • How are policymakers and policy initiatives responding to this challenge? What are the innovation policies promoting Industry 4.0 and digitization in general?
  • What are potential barriers constraining clusters adaptation to Industry 4.0?
  • How does Industry 4.0 shape collaboration for innovation in clusters and regions?
  • Place-based sustainable innovation
  • Sustainability in space and policymaking
  • Green and social innovation in regions
  • Industry 4.0 and sustainability effects
  • SDG in systems and regions

Papers presented at ERSA-2021, Rethinking Clusters 2021 and the 2021 Reunión de Estudios Regionales are special candidates for a Special Issue in Journal of Regional Research. The Journal of Regional Research – Investigaciones Regionales is the flagship journal of the Spanish Regional Science Association ( The Special Issue is also open to other contributors working on those topics.

-Full paper submission through the Journal’s portal : Open from October, 1st, 2021 to
December, 31st, 2021.

The Journal of Regional Research (Investigaciones Regionales, in Spanish) is listed in SCOPUS (Q2 in Economics, Q3 in Geography and Development) and Clarivate (Emerging Sourcing Citation Index, Q3 in Economics according to the Journal Citation Indicator of the JCR). While being specialized in regional issues, this journal is multidisciplinary and strongly devoted to European and Latin American topics. It is an academic journal, where all papers are subject to a double and blind review process. The journal is full Open Access, free for authors and readers.

Download the full announcement

Stay updated on ERSA upcoming activities, subscribe to ERSA E-newsletter