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Informal Dynamics of Agile Firm Organisation in the Greater Pearl River Delta


Agile Firms: Informal Dynamics of Agile Firm Organisation in the Greater Pearl River Delta

Project duration



Economic activities in the Greater Pearl River Delta (GPRD) are embedded into fragmented global value chains and shaped by the spatial division of labour between Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland. Business success in such competitive environments depends on competences and resources of firms to capitalise on both informal and formal institutions. Against this background, our project is based on the assumption that a firm can achieve a sustained competitive advantage by agile firm organisation - an organisational innovation to seize opportunities and to cope with uncertain threats in volatile markets proactively.

Major Goals

Our multidisciplinary consortium covers 1) the informality continuum of governance and institutions facilitating agile firm organisation in the GPRD, 2) the regional economic rationale of agile firm organisations, and 3) social dynamics that stabilise and smoothen regional agility. Mega-urban regions offer the best conditions for agile firm organisation due to thick input markets and distinct global-local interfaces. Agile firms are boosting mega-urban economies and have wider impacts on its social, political, and ecological development. Hence, our topic is an eminent emerging field to explain the informal dynamics of global change in mega-urban regions.

Research Team

University of Hannover, Institute of Economic and Cultural Geography

  • Prof. Dr. Javier Revilla Diez
  • Dr. Daniel Schiller
  • Dipl.-Geogr. Susanne Meyer

The Kiel Institute of the World Economy

  • Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Soltwedel
  • Dr. Dean Spinanger
  • Dr. Dirk Dohse
  • Dipl.-Volksw. Wan-Hsin Liu

University of Gießen

  • Prof. Dr. Ingo Liefner

University of Cologne

  • Prof. Dr. Frauke Kraas
  • Dipl.-Geogr. Pamela Kilian
  • Dipl.-Geogr. Sabine Beisswenger


Beißwenger, S.; Bork, T.; Kilian, P. (2008): Perlflussdelta: Vom Dreistromland zur megaurbanen Region: Wanderungsbewegungen und Stadtentwicklung im Süden Chinas. Scinexx, Das Wissensmagazin 1. Februar 2008.

Bork, T.; Kilian, P.; Sterly, H. (2009): Informalität in Megastädten – das Beispiel der megaurbanen Region Perlflussdelta, China. Praxis Geographie 39 (7-8), S. 28-33

Kilian, P.; Beißwenger, S.; Xue D. (2010): Floating or settling down? Migrant workers and megaurban development in the Pearl River Delta, China. Geographische Rundschau International Edition 6(2), S. 50–56.

Meyer, S.; Schiller, D.; Revilla-Diez, J. (2009): The janus-faced economy: Hong Kong firms as intermediaries between global customers and local producers in the electronics industry. Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie (TESG) 100, No. 2, pp. 224-235.

Schiller, D.; Meyer, S. (2008): Agile Unternehmensorganisation und Wirtschaftsnetzwerke im Perlflussdelta. Geographische Rundschau 60(5). S. 36-43.