Understanding urban and regional economic development and policy.
We investigate the spatial distribution of economic activities, how it changes over time and what factors influence that change to build resilient and futureproof cities and regions. We aim to understand all facets of an economic system to predict, map out and perhaps steer cities and regions towards new futureproof development paths.
In Economic Geography, key research questions are addressed at different levels of analysis, leveraging theories and methods from an evolutionary economic geography perspective.
At a micro-level, we investigate the locational behaviour of firms and individuals (e.g. workers, scientists, migrants) and the role and position they play in local and global economies. Special attention is paid to the impact of technological change (e.g. automation, artificial intelligence), high skilled immigration, foreign direct investments, institutional change towards sustainability, on the innovation performance and economic diversification of cities and regions.
At meso and macro-levels, we investigate how firms and people in cities and regions form complex networks and how they evolve over time and space. These networks shape the evolution of economic systems and indicate which trajectories are more likely to emerge. In the long run, disruptive shocks in economic systems can cause regions to develop new growth paths, while in the short term they usually develop along path dependent trajectories. At this level of analysis, we address also how the build-up of new and the adaptation of existing institutions facilitate or hamper structural change and resilience to various degrees and in different forms. Major changes in policy-thinking are also addressed, such as smart specialisation policy, industrial and innovation policy, and cohesion policy.
Empirical analysis is conducted using state-of-the art statistical analysis and data rigor. Both quantitative and qualitative research methods and techniques are regarded as legitimate tools to increase our understanding of urban and regional economic development and policy.
The sections Economic Geography and Urban Geography coordinate the one-year Master’s programme Urban and Economic Geography, where students learn how urban and economic issues are interwoven and gain the academic training needed to identify possible solutions for (future) challenges in urban regions. In this Master's programme, our section is responsible for the Economic Geography specialisation. In the Bachelor's pogramme Sociale Geografie en Planologie (Human Geography and Spatial Planning), we are responsible for the specialisation track Innovative and Sustainable Regions. We contribute to the Dedicated Minor in Geography in the Bachelor Economics and Business Economics at Utrecht School of Economics.
A full overview of the department's Bachelor and Master programmes.
POLISS is an Innovative Training Network funded by the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (H2020-MSCA-ITN) bringing together 7 European Universities and 13 Partners with the aim of contributing to the improvement of the EU’s Smart Specialisation Policy.
H2020 MSCA RISE – TREND
TREND is a joint exchange programme and aims at strengthening the regional capabilities in triggering, implementing and managing Transition Management (TM) strategies towards driving “resilience-building” processes.
Ron Boschma, Sergio Petralia
The main objective of PILLARS is to provide policy makers and the public with information about what kind of (new) skills will be in demand and how to revise education and training systems to create the opportunities to acquire them.
Castaldi, Boschma, Cortinovis
The core defining aspect of IN SITU is the interlinking of research and practice through place-based IN SITU Labs, hubs for projects in 6 non-urban regions across Europe, located in Portugal, Ireland, Iceland, Finland, Latvia, and Croatia.
The ClusDevMed Project – Clusters Development–aims to create the condition for the reinforcement of the existing clusters in the Mediterranean Area, with the support of other EU expertise and policies, and with the aim to bridge the distance among different stakeholders with the same objectives, and to find a way to create a common approach to solve the food-water-energy nexus.
Soft innovation? Towards new narratives on regional capabilities and policies
Prof. Dr. Carolina Castaldi
When it comes to innovation, most scholars and policymakers associate it rather exclusively with new technological inventions. Hence innovation hubs tend to coincide with places where organisations show strong technological capabilities. Yet, innovation is more than invention and also includes ‘soft’ elements that go beyond technology.
For individual members of this research section, please see the staff listing.