University of Gothenburg


The CRA group conducts research on various aspects of regional development. Current prioritized research includes regional economic evolution, structural change, labor mobility and skills, regional innovation and policy, sustainability transitions, and business model innovation.

Research areas

Regions are in constant change. Above all, the expansion of major cities at the expense of the periphery has caused increasing regional disparities in Sweden and all over the world. Further, structural change takes place within regions, when old industries decline and new industries emerge. Often, phasing out and emerging industries do not have the same localization patterns, and structural change is therefore altering relationships between regions. These economic and geographical developments have real consequences for people living and working in different regions. At the same time, technological and institutional change challenges the prevailing regional development patterns and alters the conditions for regional growth. 

Targeting these problems and processes, CRA is conducting a range of research projects on regional economic evolution, structural change, labor mobility and skills, regional innovation and policy, sustainability transitions, and business model innovation.  

Ongoing projects

Swedish regional economic change and transformation

The research project is studying regional growth in the long term in Sweden, and in international comparison. 

Martin Henning, Roman Martin, and researchers at Lund University
Länsförsäkringar Alliance Research Foundation, 2018-2021

The role of demand in new regional industrial path development - the food industry in transformation

Research on regional transformation has advanced our understanding on how regional economic change occurs as an outcome of innovation and knowledge creation processes. In this project we aim to gain a better understanding of the role of demand in new regional industrial path development, especially focusing on the transformation of the food sector towards environmentally friendly production. Theory building will depart from accounts on regional industrial path development and regional innovation systems, as well as the work on sociotechnical transitions. In the empirical analysis we will focus on two Swedish regions – Scania and Värmland. We will combine quantitative and qualitative techniques – a large scale survey among food companies and in-depth case studies of innovation processes of environmentally friendly food products.

Roman Martin and Hanna Martin
The Swedish Research Council FORMAS 2017–2021

Human capital for Industry 4.0. How firm’s employment strategies affect workforce competence enhancement and labour market mobility

On a daily basis, we come across news about how technical breakthroughs change our everyday lives. Technological development is also expected to have dramatic effects on the labor market. But the existing literature says little about what the technological transformation means for employees at workplace level. This project therefore aims to create a deeper understanding of the consequences of technologies for individuals in the labor market, by examining how firms´ employment strategies handle the effects of the transformation. The project focuses on the Swedish manufacturing industry and advanced manufacturing-related service sector. How do companies develop their skills resources in times of technological change? What new demands are placed on the employees? What are the consequences for workers?

Martin Henning
The Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare FORTE, 2020 – 2022

Previous projects

Strategic Renewal in Swedish Industry

The purpose of the project was to study how strategic renewal within Swedish and foreign-owned manufacturing companies in Sweden is affected by being included in global value chains. We collected a large empirical material, incl. company interviews, which generally show that the renewal has not been negatively affected. This is an interesting, important observation to understand the dynamics of the manufacturing industry in Sweden, in addition, our collected data and the business contacts we have built up can be valuable in future studies.

Claes Göran Alvstam, Martin Henning, Inge Ivarsson, Richard Nakamura and Ramsin Yakob
Sweden's Innovation Agency 2017-2019

The creation of CRA

This establishment is a result of the demand for more knowledge of the competitive prerequisites of different regions. Regional competitiveness is at focus where globalization, technological development and the increasing importance of regions influence the competitive ability.

Erik Elldér, Ulf Ernstson, Åke Forsström, Urban Fransson, Martin Henning, Anders Larsson, Sten Lorentzon, Jerry Olsson, Patrik Ström, Evelina Wahlqvist
Funded by Västra Götalandsregionen, the Foundation of Economic Research of West Sweden and School of Business, Economics and Law at Göteborg University
The work has been carried out as a project (2006-2010) but is funded as a contribution to the activity since 2011

Bridging the knowledge-gap between the old and the new: the case of tourism innovation processes in Västra Götaland region 

In spite of a growing awareness of the importance of tourism in regional economic growth, it has until recently not been identified as an economic sector per se. Consequently, in many regions, tourism has been treated as separated from the traditional manufacturing based economic activity. This division might create a technological, institutional and cognitive gap between traditional and new sectors and hence missed opportunities to re-cycle and combine knowledge and innovation in regional tourism development. The aim of this study is to analyse the possibilities and limitations for innovation based on combination of knowledge between traditional and new sectors of the economy.

Anders Larsson and Kristina Lindström
Funded by Foundation of Economic Research of West Sweden 2011-

Relatedness and regional changes in an historical perspective

One of the most important links between economic activities today is their relatedness with regard to competence (skills). This relatedness may influence many economic phenomena, e.g. individual career, regional diversification and structural changes. But there are many different types of links between economic activities, not least historical, depending on what resources that are observed. The aim of this study is to attain more knowledge of the connection with different types of relatedness and regional economic transformation in an historical perspective. The study is based on recent digitalized data of economic activity in Swedish towns 1900-1965 and American data of the US census 1900. Preliminary the results indicate that the path dependence in the economic transformation was evident also after the industrial revolution, especially within traditional industries. After 1930 common human resources have become more important for the advantages of co-location and transformation and traditional regional structures of clusters have partly been replaced by another type of dynamic development. Furthermore, the study also add knowledge to our time.

Martin Henning
Funded by the Foundation of Jan Wallander and Tom Hedelius 2010-

The mobility of the manpower in the car industry related to regions and industrial sectors

Technological inventions and fast technological changes have characterized the development of the global car industry. In recent years, however, this sector has become more known for organizational and financial turbulence. Many employees have been forced to move. This mobility of qualified individuals between related industries is an important mechanism behind regional processes of diversification and the development of regional economies. By the use of microdata of individuals, who have worked in the Swedish car industry between the years 1990 and 2010, the employees that quit the car industry are analysed concerning industry and where they prefer to work. The studies also include analysis of relevant characteristics of individuals that move to other workplaces.

Martin Henning, Anders Larsson and Urban Fransson
Funded by the Foundation of Jan Wallander and Tom Hedelius 2010-

Analysis of accessibility to commercial services in sparsely populated areas

More private motorism has enabled high mobility by individuals living in different types of regions such as metropolitan areas and sparsely populated areas. People living in sparsely populated areas can commute long distances without traffic congestion. This means that many individuals combine work-trips with services, e. g .visiting stores and banks. Thereby the accessibility to these services is better for individuals who have access to car and travel regularly than the accessibility for persons living in areas missing functional links to areas outside their neighbourhood. The extent of commuting and potential points of supply of commercial services are analysed as well as accessibility to commercial services for the non-commuting group.

Ulf Ernstson and Anders Larsson.
Funded by VGR 2011-

Commuters from- to- and in the municipality of Kungsbacka

This is an explorative study and carried out by the use of data from the database GILDA (Geographical Longitudanal Database for Analysis).

Ulf Ernstson and Urban Fransson
Funded by the Municipality of Kungsbacka and CRA 2011–2013

Differences of ages among couples and synchronized retirement

This project pays attention to the importance of different ages for the time of retirement among married men and women in Sweden. Furthermore, the variation of ages is related to socio-economic conditions.

Urban Fransson and Per Gustafson
Funded by FAS 2011-2014

On Distance and the Spatial Dimension in the Definition of Internal Migration

This project focuses on the spatial dimension where migration is typically defined as movement across administrative borders. Using data for all internal migrants in Sweden, the only known country where migration distances are available in sufficient detail, studies are performed of actual migration distances and the relationship between actual migration distances and migration-defining boundaries.

Urban Fransson and Thomas Niedomysl
Funded by CRA 2011-2013

IT-entrepreneurs in Västra Götaland

The performance of this study is based on the database GILDA (Geographical Longitudanal Database for Analysis). One purpose is to investigate the possibilities to identify entrepreneurs creating new businesses, while another purpose is to investigate the ability of the database GILDA to identify businesses that are closed down. The studies observe the development in Västra Götaland as well as all Sweden during the period 2005 – 2010.

Urban Fransson
Funded by CRA 2012-2013

More efficient urban transport systems – optimal location of combi-terminals in and around the city of Gothenburg

The work is based on the observation that Swedish traffic on roads and in towns tends to become inefficient as the size of the delivered goods decreases while the distance of transportation increases. A consequence is burden on the urban transport system; the capacity of the infrastructure decreases, while congestion and pollution increase. The aim of the study is, with regard to the location of present and future combi-terminals, to investigate the potential of more efficient use of existent urban transport systems. The survey focuses the city of Gothenburg and surroundings.

Jerry Olsson 2012-2014