The development of traditional Regional Economics into what has been called New Economic Geography meant uniting all of the ZEW´s research departments into a collaborating team. Despite its clear roots in the conventional scholarship of this field, the as of the onset of the nineties newly forming attention concerning Economic Geography has taken up some interesting methodological extensions:
- the integration of industrial and labour market economics,
- further consideration of theories of growth and foreign trade,
- additional microeconomic foundation of corporate (re-)location decisions also for the case of multiple firms,
- inclusion of information and transaction costs.
This pushes the agenda for overarching approaches to explain asymmetric regional developments, cluster formation and the competition of regions for firms, jobs, and people. The team assembled at the ZEW examined how these theoretical aspects may play into ongoing work at the ZEW and, furthermore, proposed valid own project ideas which in part were to generate specific regional characteristics by drawing on already existing work. Particularly, potential interlinkages with the Digital Economy field are perceived as central: due to the revolutionary altering of spatial transaction costs increasing significance for regional development must be attributed to the development of information and telecommunication technologies.