Special Issue "Small and Medium-Size Towns Across the World: From the Past into the Future (SMTs)"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2019.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Teresa de Noronha
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Faculty of Economics, Universidade do Algarve, Faro, Portugal
Interests: regional economics; agrofood economics; economics of innovation and strategies for small and medium firms
Prof. Dr. Eric Vaz
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Geography, Ryerson University, Toronto, ON, Canada
Interests: spatial analysis; geographic information science; volunteered geographic information; geographic information systems; regional science; knowledge management; geodata; complex system analytics
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue is inspired by a real situation of dual choice in the lifestyle of two European citizens experiencing the move from a small, peripheral town to a megacity. When confronted for the first time with the evaluation of mobility costs and the use of technological modern opportunities, the authors analyze how much advantages and disadvantages of agglomeration economies, rising property prices, and social and cultural contexts of these two different urbanized environments may impact on comfort and security. Convinced that the major drive for megacities is rather a marketing artefact than a real agglomeration advantage, this Special Issue aims to investigate the advantages that active and efficient SMTs can bring to social progress and citizens wellbeing.

Contrarily to the rather empirical major contributions of this Special Issue, exemplified by a series of case studies, the introductive first paper’s goal is to define a theoretical framework able to justify the idea that todays’ agglomeration economies have altered their classical essence because of the effects of technological change, becoming non-physical and volatile, with advantages that do not confine to cost reduction but rather progress from a fast multiplier effect of networking opportunities—may in such cases, distance be considered, or not, as a major factor.

A growing evidence supporting our proposition is manifested by means of new firms’ behaviors and different consumers’ choices: Several, if not many, new companies locate in unexpected places providing they have lower locational costs and sufficient capacity to deliver their products, mostly services, to their clients.

Recent research confirms that corporations and even small business are presently under extreme saving impositions due to the great instability of the financial market. Constrained by their upstream suppliers and partners or fighting for each additional penny at the end of the annual budget, companies are imposed to add flexibility to their whole productive process. Relocation to less central areas and encouraging process and technological innovations are, nowadays, being more accepted then salary reductions and downsizing. Successful companies require excellent skills to provide excellent solutions. Further, technological solutions, now available to all at decreasing costs, are diffusing at a global level, supplying the productive chain with alternative choices for long-distance networking, learning, buying, distributing, and monitoring. It is very hard to believe that such opportunities, spread over the global market, will not alter dramatically the concept of space and time, including the advantages of agglomeration economies. Further, the value of scale prevails over the value of space, once distribution and transportation costs decrease.

For now, the general difficulties of firms to deal with the fast technological changes occurring at the different stages of the supply chain are still a hindrance to delay the disruptive process behind the classical concept of space and time. However, soon such hindrances will be overcome by the increasing inclusion of ICT in management strategies, public services skills, and policies all together.

This Special Issue is organized as follows: A first part comprehends a solid extensive paper as a framing theoretical discussion about physical distance and relational flows, the limits in the form of agglomeration economies under technological change, and the recent contributions to new costs structures and consequent savings for the organization. Finally, the concluding remarks of this first chapter link non-spatial proximities together and advocate their possible advantages.  

The second and central part of this Special Issue supplies an extensive sample of papers describing several Small and Medium Size Towns across the world, each one of them offering different clues about those characteristics associated with path dependencies from the past that make a difference for their future. The authors of these chapters emphasize different aspects of their historical settings and recent developments. Pointing to their beauty, traditional skills, historic centrality, or governance systems, the authors provide precious information allied with an emotional description which allows the readers to better perceive why such SMTs have survived, eventually grown, and become prosperous, and still play an important role in the memory or life of many. Thus, we focus here on the comprehensive nature of the term sustainability, as we confirm that all those SMTs are socio-economic survivors, historical and natural jewels of change.

We call those colleagues interested in participating and diffusing their experience and knowledge about SMTs, to present their views and case-study papers. We wish to honour the legacy of the existing jewels of balanced development and resilient life quality, thus we encourage contributors to join our list of interested authors.

Prof. Dr. Teresa de Noronha
Prof. Dr. Eric Vaz
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1700 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Open AccessArticle
Eurocity: From Political Construction to Local Demand… Or Vice-Versa?
Sustainability 2019, 11(22), 6217; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11226217 - 06 Nov 2019
This study presents a diagnostic analysis of the concept of the Eurocity. It aims to compare the initial intentions of the concept with its actual results from the perspective of a sustainable local development approach, particularly assessing the attention given to local governance [...] Read more.
This study presents a diagnostic analysis of the concept of the Eurocity. It aims to compare the initial intentions of the concept with its actual results from the perspective of a sustainable local development approach, particularly assessing the attention given to local governance and its potential for boosting this development paradigm. To this end, a range of internal documents and press reports of the Guadiana Eurocity were analyzed, and 15 in-depth interviews and one focus group were conducted with the main stakeholders involved in implementing local development policy in order to uncover the cognitive structure of their collective discourse and the potentials and expectations of the Eurocity. The results showed that the Guadiana Eurocity seemed to be the cross-border and European integration entity with the most legitimacy among these municipalities for carrying out sustainable local development strategies. Its structure and closeness to residents’ daily lives, however, were not sufficient guarantees of its success. Full article
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