Plenary Speakers - Winter 2014

Sustainable Recovery?  Rebalancing, Growth, and the Space Economy - London, UK

Please find here a list of the plenary speakers for the RSA Winter Conference 2014.

Opening Plenary Session

Professor Ron Martin, University of Cambridge, UK

Ron Martin is Professor of Economic Geography. He is also a Research Associate of the Centre for Business Research attached to the Judge Business School. He is also one of the Team in the Centre for Geographical Economic Research. He holds a Professorial Fellowship at St Catharine's College. He will be a Leverhulme Major Research Fellow for 2007-2010.

Ron's research interests fall into five major areas:

The Geographies of Work

This strand of his research goes back originally to his PhD on wage and employment dynamics in urban labour markets in the United States, and has since broadened to encompass the theory of local labour markets, local unemployment problems, trade union decline, work in the 'new economy', issues of wage and income inequality, and the local impact of workfare schemes. Books published include: Regional Wage Dynamics and Unemployment, 1981; Union Retreat and the Regions (with P. Sunley and KJ. Wills), 1996; Unemployment and Social Exclusion (with P. Lawless and S. Hardy), 1998; Geographies of Labour Market Inequality (with P. Morrison) 2003; Putting Workfare in Place (with P. Sunley and C. Nativel), 2005

The Geographies of Financial Systems

Over recent years, Ron has played a key role in the development of a new economic geography of money. His research under this theme covers global financial centres, the spatial structure of financial systems, venture capital markets, and the role of finance in regional economic development. Books include: Money, Power and Space (with S. Corbridge and N. Thrift), 1994; Money and the Space Economy, 1999; Regional Venture Capital Policy in Germany and the UK (with C. Berndt, B. Klagge and P. Sunley), 2003

Regional Economic Development

Ron's research under this head covers a numbers of related issues. One is concerned with exploring the meaning, nature and significance of regional and urban competitive advantage. In what sense do regions and cities compete? What are the determinants of regional differences in competitive advantage? What are the implications for long-run regional development? A second theme has to do with the geographies of the so-called 'New Economy', and why this latest phase in capitalist development is emanating from some places rather than others, and how in turn it is reshaping the economic landscape. A third theme is concerned with the scope and limits of the concept of 'clusters' for understanding uneven regional development. Books include: Regional Development in the 1990s (with P. Townroe), 1992; Clusters and Regional Development: Critical Reflections and Explorations (with B. Asheim and P. Cooke), 2006; Regional Competitive Advantage (with M. Kitson and P. Tyler), 2006; The Competitiveness of English Cities (with J. Simmie), 2007.

Economic Theory and Economic Geography (and especially Evolutionary Economic Geography)

Economic geography has always drawn, directly or indirectly, on economics as a source of theoretical inspiration. Ron's particular interest is in the application of heterodox forms of economics to economic geography, as well as responding to the recent emergence of the so-called 'new economic geography' within mainstream economics. More especially, his current focus is on the importation of concepts and ideas from evolutionary economics, and on exploring the scope for and nature of an evolutionary economic geography. Key articles include: Paul Krugman's Geographical Economics and Its Implications for Regional Development Theory: A Critical Assessment, (With P. Sunley), Economic Geography, 72, 3 , pp. 260-293. Slow Convergence? The New Endogenous Growth Theory and Regional Development (With P. Sunley) Economic Geography , 74, 3, pp. 201-227. The New 'Geographical Turn' in Economics: Some Critical Reflections, Cambridge Journal of Economics, 23, pp 63-91. Books include: The Economic Geography Reader (with J. Bryson, N. Henry, D. Keeble), 1999; Critical Concepts in Economic Geography, Volumes 1-5 (With P. Sunley), In Press, 2007; Handbook of Evolutionary Economic Geography (with R, Boschma), In Press, 2007.

Geography and Public Policy

A common thread running through Ron's research is a strong commitment to the social and policy relevance of economic-geographic research, and firm belief that, wherever possible, academic geography should have public policy relevance. His own work on labour markets (especially on the New Deal), on regional competitiveness, and on regional venture capital markets, embodies this ethos. A current interest is in the spatialities of income inequality and poverty. He also researches how national state policies impact at the local and regional level, and the subnational implications of the ongoing neoliberalisation of state policies.

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Opening Plenary Session

Professor Philip McCann, University of Groningen, The Netherlands

Professor Philip McCann holds The University of Groningen Endowed Chair of Economic Geography. He is one of the world’s most highly cited and widely recognised economic geographers and spatial economists of his generation. 

 He has been an invited speaker at the European Parliament Brussels; the OECD Paris; the European Commission Brussels; the Parliament of Australia; the Federal Reserve Bank of New York; the Reserve Bank of New Zealand; the European Investment Bank Luxembourg; H.M. Treasury UK; FAO The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, The Italian Ministry for Education, Universities and Research; the Spanish Ministry for Economy and Competitiveness; and The New Zealand Treasury. 
Philip McCann was formerly Professor of Economics in the Department of Economics at The University of Waikato, New Zealand, 2005-2009; and Professor of Urban and Regional Economics in the Department of Economics, at The University of Reading, UK, 2004-2009. 

Special Adviser to Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for Regional Policy 2010-2013 

Professor Philip McCann acted as Special Adviser to Johannes Hahn, the European Commissioner for Regional Policy from 1st  April 2010 to 31st  March 2013. As Special Adviser, Professor McCann provided expert economic advice and analysis to Commissioner Hahn on matters relating to the reform of Cohesion Policy and its alignment with The Europe 2020 Strategy. 

Between 1st  April 2010 and November 2011 Philip worked alongside Special Adviser Fabrizio Barca, who before his appointment as a Cabinet Minister in the Italian Government of Mario Monti, was at the time was Director General of the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance, and author of the 2009 Independent Report An Agenda for a Reformed Cohesion Policy. 

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Panel Plenary Session 1

Professor Andrés Rodríguez-Pose, London School of Economics, UK

Professor Andrés Rodríguez-Pose is a Professor of Economic Geography at the London School of Economics, where he was Head of the Department of Geography and Environment. He is the current holder of a European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant. He is President-Elect of Regional Science Association International, where he is serving as Vice-President of the Association in 2014 and will serve as President in 2015-2016. He has also been Vice-President (2012-2013) and Secretary (2001-2005) of the European Regional Science Association.

He has a long track record of research in regional growth and disparities, fiscal and political decentralization, regional innovation, and development policies and strategies. His research is widely cited in academic circles and has also been frequently used by policy- and decision-makers. In his areas of expertise, he has acted as consultant to several Directorates of the European Commission, the European Investment Bank, the World Bank, the Cities Alliance, the OECD, the International Labour Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the Confederación Andina de Fomento, among others. He directed a major World Bank/Cities Alliance report entitled "Understanding your Local Economy" and frequently acts as advisor to national governments. He has also been visiting professor at a number of universities, including the College of Europe (Belgium), Cambridge (UK), Stavanger (Norway) and Hanover (Germany). He is the only social scientist to have been awarded the Royal Society-Wolfson Research Merit Award. Other past academic awards include a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship, a Philip Leverhulme Prize, and a Royal Geographical Society Gill Memorial Award. The latter two were awarded for his contribution to our understanding of regional disparities and development.

Among his books, we could highlight the dynamics of Regional Growth in Europe (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1998), The European Union: Economy, Society, and Polity (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2002), Local and Regional Development (London, Routledge, 2006), or Innovation and regional growth in the European Union (Berlin and New York, Springer, 2011). Some of his books have been translated into Chinese, Italian, and Spanish. He has also published more than 120 papers in peer-reviewed journals, is the joint managing editor of Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, an editor of Economic Geography, and sits on the editorial board of 26 other scholarly journals, including many of the leading international journals in economic geography, human geography, regional science, and management.

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Panel Plenary Session 1

Professor Gillian Bristow, Cardiff University, UK

Gillian is a Professor in Economic Geography with research interests in the areas of regional economic development; regional economic resilience; local and regional competitiveness; devolution finance; regional economic change and restructuring; and the evaluation and analysis of UK and EU public policy in relation to regional and rural development objectives.

 She is also Deputy Director of the Centre for Economic Geography, a member of the ESRC’s Centre on Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance (SKOPE), managing editor of the Regions and Cities Book Series and one of the editors of Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy.

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Panel Plenary Session 1

Professor Henry Overman, London School of Economics, UK

Professor Henry Overman, BSc. (Bristol), Msc. (LSE), PhD. (LSE) is Professor of Economic Geography in the Department of Geography and Environment at the London School of Economics and director of the What Works Centre for Local Economic Growth. He was formerly director of the Spatial Economics Research Centre.

His current research interests include the causes and consequences of spatial disparities and the impact of urban and regional policy. His research has been published in leading economics journals (The Review of Economics Studies and The Quarterly Journal of Economics) and leading economic geography journals (Environment and Planning and Journal of Economic Geography). He continues to publish in journals from both disciplines as well as editing the inter-disciplinary Journal of Economic Geography.

He has provided policy advice to, amongst others, the European Commission, Department for International Development, Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, Department for Communities and Local Government and the Department for Transport. He is also affiliated with the Centre for Economic Performance and the Centre for Economic Policy Research.

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Panel Plenary Session 1

Professor Nancey Green Leigh, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA

Professor Nancey Green Leigh joined City and Regional Planning at the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1994, after teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  She holds a PhD in City and Regional Planning from the University of California – Berkeley.  She specializes in economic development planning with a particular focus on sustainability and redevelopment, and is a national Brownfields Redevelopment expert. She is a former Woodrow Wilson Fellow and Regents Fellow of the University of California and past Vice President of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning.  She was elected a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners in 2008. She is the author of over 50 articles and three books, Stemming Middle Class Decline: The Challenge to Economic Development Planning (1994); Economic Revitalization: Cases and Strategies for City and Suburb (2002 with Joan Fitzgerald); and Planning Local Economic Development, 4th edition, with Edward J. Blakely.  Both Economic Revitalization and Planning Local Economic Development have been adopted by a wide array of classes in the Social Sciences across the United States.

Since 2006, Dr. Leigh has led a large scale research effort involving three universities focused on sustainable industrial systems for urban regions and funded by the National Science Foundation. Her long-term brownfield redevelopment work led to her testimony before the U.S. House Subcommittee on reauthorizing the national brownfields program in 2008. In  mid-2010, Leigh assumed the Directorship of the School of City and Regional Planning’s Doctoral Program. Outside of the university, she co-chairs the Sustainable Economic Development Committee for the new city of Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia. 

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Panel Plenary Session 2 'Policy Intervention'

Professor Andy Pike, Newcastle University, UK

My central research interest is the geographical political economy of local and regional development. This core provides the basis for two main strands of work. First, this research is concerned with the concepts and theory of the meaning and governance of development regionally and locally in an international context. In particular, this work seeks to question and broaden our understandings of ‘development’ beyond the economic to encompass the social and ecological in more sustainable and progressive ways and to begin more meaningfully to connect development locally and regionally in the global North and South.

Second, this research focuses upon the intersections between local and regional development and Economic Geography. This theme has been explored in ongoing work on the geographies of brands and branding, and collaborative work on evolutionary approaches and the geographies of financialisation.

My research builds upon close policy engagement and has informed local and regional development policy for international (e.g. European Commission, United Nations International Labour Organization (UN-ILO), Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)), national (e.g. Government Departments), regional (e.g. Local Enterprise Partnerships, Regional Development Agencies, trade unions) and local (e.g. Local Authorities, Development Agencies) organisations.

My current work is focused on three areas of activity:

First, I am completing a book manuscript on ‘Origination: The Geographies of Brands and Branding’. Caribbean cuisine, Latin American coffee, American high-tech, Danish furniture, Thai silks, Catalan design, Hollywood films, Broadway theatre, Florentine leather goods, Hunter Valley wines, London insurance… Where branded goods and services commodities are from and are associated with is integral to their meaning and value. Internationalisation, even globalisation, has complicated the picture as brand owners, managers, marketers, consumers and regulators have grappled with questions of origin(s), provenance, authenticity and transparency. Yet, longstanding research has been fixated with the ‘countryof origin’ effect on consumer behaviour and failed to develop ways of thinking about the geographies of brands and branding that encompass and extend beyond this national frame. Origination introduces and develops a new way of understanding and explaining the geographical associations constructed by actors related in spatial circuits – producers, circulators, consumers and regulators – in their attempts to cohere and stabilise meaning and value in goods and services brands and their branding in particular spatial and temporal market contexts. Connecting geographically political and cultural economy concerns, origination provides a means to address critical questions about how, why, where and by whom goods and services brands are associated with specific and particular geographical attributes and characteristics of spaces and places and why it matters for people and places.

Second, ongoing research focuses on the governance of uneven development. This work specifically examines the governance of economic development in England and is currently exploring the shift away from regions, regionalisation and regionalism toward rebalancing, decentralisation and localism under the current Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government in the UK. This research includes studies of the demise of the RDAs and the emergence of the LEPs in England in collaboration with David Marlow (Third Life Economics and CURDS), Anja McCarthy (CURDS), Peter O’Brien (CURDS) and John Tomaney (UCL). This project is part of my involvement in the Spatial Economics Research Centre (SERC) funded by ESRC, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (DBIS), and the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG). See

Third, the new inter-disciplinary research centre i-BUILD (Infrastructure BUsiness models, valuation andInnovation for Local Delivery) involving the Universities of Birmingham and Leeds and funded by EPSRC and ESRC begins in 2013. See: i-BUILD is developing new business models to improve the delivery of infrastructure systems and the services they provide. These new business models aim better to exploit the technical and market opportunities that emerge from the increased interdependence of modern infrastructure systems. i-BUILD focuses on infrastructure at the scale of neighbourhoods, towns and cities where infrastructure is most dense and interdependencies between infrastructures, economies and society are most profound. As cities, local authorities and local enterprise partnerships are given more powers for infrastructure delivery and to raise finances it is crucial to develop robust new business models to develop infrastructure related business and growth locally - to the benefit of the nation. I am Co-Director of the centre and will lead on the workstream on governance and regulatory arrangements with John Tomaney (UCL) and contribute to the workstream on new financing practices being led by John Bryson (Birmingham).

Future Research

I am continuing ongoing work in collaboration with Stuart Dawley (CURDS), Andy Cumbers (Glasgow), Robert Hassink (Kiel), Danny MacKinnon (Newcastle) and Robert McMaster (Glasgow) on elaborating evolutionary approaches to economic geography and undertaking empirical work on resilience and the adaptation, adaptability and adaptive capacity of local and regional economies in a comparative international context.

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Panel Plenary Session 2 'Policy Intervention'

David Marlow, Third Life Economics, UK

David Marlow is a development economist, writing and commentating extensively on local growth.  During a 25 year public services career, David worked both overseas and in UK local government. This culminated in eight years as CEO, firstly of a large metropolitan council, and then of a Regional Development Agency. Since establishing Third Life Economics in 2008, David has undertaken numerous commissions for national and local government, LEPs, business, academia and the third sector. These include recent work on city deals, growth deals, and national-local devolution. "

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Panel Plenary Session 2 'Policy Intervention'

Richard Kenny, Head of Strategic Development at Birmingham City Council, UK

Richard Kenny is Head of Strategic Development at Birmingham City Council.

Richard supports the Council Leadership, Chief Executive and Strategic Directors on the strategic development of the council and its city. He leads and delivers strategic moves and developments. Richard recently led the bid that won the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge for the city in 2012.

Richard is a highly experienced thought leader and strategist for cities and an experienced director of partnerships, programmes and projects. He has held senior positions at national, regional and local levels, working for two major UK cities, a regional assembly and central government and its agencies.

Richard is a member of the University of Warwick Institute for Science of Cities and a member of the Steering Group for the Recession, Resilience and Recovery ESRC Project led by the Centre for Geographical Economic Research, University of Cambridge.

Richard is an advisor to and writes for the Warwick PolicyLab think-tank. He has also published papers on pathways to outcomes and complexity in cities.

Richard has degrees from the universities of Sheffield (BA), Aston (MSc.) and Warwick (MBA). He is also a member of the Society for Local Authority Chief Executives and the Institute of Directors.

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Panel Plenary Session 2 'Policy Intervention'

Jacqui Ward, Deputy Director of Cities and Local Growth Unit, Department for Buisness, Innovation and Skills, UK

Jacqui Ward is a Deputy Director in the Cities and Local Growth Unit, a cross-government team working to maximise the opportunities for economic growth through decentralisation of power and funding to local areas. Jacqui took a lead role in co-ordinating negotiations between Government and Local Enterprise Partnerships on the 39 Growth Deals announced in summer 2014, and is now responsible for overseeing implementation of those deals. Jacqui represents the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills in the joint Unit, so has a particular interest in opportunities for more local influence over policies such as skills, business support, trade and investment.    

Jacqui joined the Civil Service in 2009, and has had a range of policy roles, including on higher education reform.  Prior to this she worked in the private sector and for a professional body.

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Panel Plenary Session 2 'Policy Intervention'

Andrew Carter, Director of Policy and Research, Centre for Cities, UK

Andrew has overall responsibility for the Centre's research and policy programme as Director of Policy & Research.  He has over 15 years of experience working with business, community and public sector leaders on urban economic policy issues.   

Andrew is a regular media contributor and has chaired and spoken at conferences across the UK and Europe on a wide range of urban and economic issues.

Prior to joining the Centre, Andrew worked for a range of public and private development agencies, consultants and research institutes in the economic development field.  He has also spent time in the US as part of the Churchill Foundation’s Fellowship Programme reviewing urban economic development policy and practice in American cities including New York, Washington DC, Boston and Chicago. 

Follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewCities

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Closing Plenary Session

Professor Michael Storper, London School of Economics, UK, Sciences-Po, France and UCLA, USA

Professor Michael Storper is a Professor of Economic Geography at the London School of Economics.  He joined the Department in October 2000 as LSE Centennial Professor of Economic Geography. He is also affiliated with the Centre de Sociologie des Organisations at Sciences-Po in Paris, and the Department of Urban Planning in the School of Public Affairs at UCLA. His research and teaching interests fall into five, closely linked, areas: economic geography, globalization, technology, regions, especially city regions and economic development. Beyond his core disciplinary skills in economic geography, his work on occasion draws on, and has links to, economics, sociology and urban studies.

In 2012 Professor Storper was elected as a Corresponding Fellow by the British Academy, and also received the Regional Studies Association's Sir Peter Hall Prize for overall contribution to the field.

He is an internationally recognised scholar and author, particularly well known for his books which include The Capitalist Imperative: Territory, Technology and Industrial Growth (with R. Walker; Blackwell, 1989), Pathways to Industrialization and Regional Development (with A. Scott; Routledge, 1992), Worlds of Production: The Action Frameworks of the Economy (with Robert Salais, Harvard Univ. Press, 1997), The Regional World: Territorial Development in a Global Economy (Guildford Press, 1997), and Latecomers in the Global Economy (editor with L. Tsipouri and S. Thmodakis; Routledge, 1998).

His latest book, Keys to the City: How Economics, Institutions, Social Interaction, and Politics Shape Development, is published by Princeton University Press.

Michael is currently completing a five-year research project on the divergent economic development of the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay Area economies since 1970, which is the subject of his next book.

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Closing Plenary Session

Dr Amy Glasmeier, MIT, USA

Dr. Glasmeier holds a professional masters and PhD in City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley. From 2009 to 2013, she was the Department Head of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT. She simultaneously serves as a professor of economic geography and regional planning. She has two books on policies to develop and expand technology industries. Her book, Manufacturing Time: Global Competition in the World Watch industry, 1750-2000, provides considerable perspective on how different modes of industrial organization and varieties of capitalism yield varying levels of competitive success of national systems of industrialization. In addition, she has written two books focused on the special development problems of rural areas and has worked closely with academics and policy makers around the country to fashion programs designed to assist in formulating sustainable development strategies for rural areas. Her most recent book, published fall 2005 by Routledge Press, An Atlas of Poverty in America: One Nation, Pulling Apart 1960-2003 examines the experience of people and places in poverty since the 1960s, looks across the last four decades at poverty in America and recounts the history of poverty policy since the 1940s. She is finishing up a project on the spatial location of wounded soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan. With a Freedom Of Information request, Glasmeier acquired data that allows her to map the location of health care services and the soldiers home of record. She hopes this research will help draw attention to the particular difficulties of soldiers seeking health care while living in rural areas.

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