The spatial economy of North American trade fairs

Ben Spigel, Harald Bathelt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


hrough a study of trade fairs, this article illustrates that relational approaches to economic geography are not limited to the sphere of economic and social relationships. These relationships are influenced by and, in turn, shape material realities, such as specific infrastructure and the labour market, in a reflexive manner. Trade fairs are “relational events” that bring together regional, national, and often international producers, users, suppliers, and other agents of a value chain or technology field for the purpose of exchanging knowledge about technological and market developments, building partnerships, and maintaining existing networks through learning by interaction and observation. However, these events are also situated in space and time, grounded in the contexts of particular industries, trade patterns, public and private investments, as well as the economic geographies of places. Focusing on North America, this article presents and analyzes data on the economic geography of trade fairs and their regional economic impact (number of events, exhibitors, attendees, exhibition space). It explores regional trade fair patterns and dynamic changes in major trade fair cities by emphasizing the role of history and industry context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18
Number of pages38
JournalThe Canadian Geographer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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