Research Focus Publications SPACES GIRD Vitae

Harald Bathelt

My Profile

I hold the Canada Research Chair in ‘Innovation and Governance’ at the Department of Political Science, University of Toronto, Canada. I am also Professor in the University of Toronto’s Department of Geography and Planning. My research and teaching interests are in the areas of industrial and economic geography, political economy and methodology. Specific areas which provide the focus of my research and teaching activities include the analysis of long-term social and economic development, industrial clustering and the socio-economic impacts of regional, industrial and institutional change.

A relational approach of economic geography, which emphasizes economic and social processes in spatial perspective (using a ‘geographical lens’), provides the analytical framework for my research. This rests on three basic propositions. First, economic actors are situated in contexts of social and institutional relations. Second, economic processes are path-dependent to the extent that future action is dependent on past decisions. Third, economic processes are at the same time contingent in that agents make choices which may deviate from existing development paths.

The relational approach has distinct consequences for the way in which economic, social and political processes are analyzed. In particular, it calls for a micro perspective to understand economic structures and processes, focussing on those individual and collective agents involved in the governance of economic action. There are three levels of governance which I consider in my work, i.e. (i) the governance of economic organization and innovation at the level of the individual firm or organization, (ii) the governance of inter-organizational interaction in projects, networks and clusters, and (iii) the territorial governance of industrial systems and “global” value chains in local, regional, national and international contexts.

Research focus

In the 1970s and 1980s, the industrial core countries in Western Europe and North America entered a stage of drastic economic and societal change and crisis. The concomitant industrial and institutional change and its determinant factors and spatial implications are a particular focus of my research. The relationships between societal change and technological innovation, the division of labor and spatial organization patterns in production are of fundamental interest and provide the basis for the design of my empirical research. Research questions I address increasingly reflect the development of a triadic world market structure in that similar research designs are applied to different national institutional systems in North America, Western Europe and East/ Southeast Asia.

In my academic work, I have been interested in concepts, such as clusters, innovation systems, varieties of capitalism, regulation theory, and the like. Thus far, I have conducted extensive empirical research on firms in high technology industries (such as computers and electronic components), the media sector and other high growth industries (such as chemicals) in North America, China and Germany.

Recent publications include:

BATHELT, H./ COHENDET, P./ HENN, S./ SIMON, L. (Eds.) (2017): The Elgar Companion to Innovation and Knowledge Creation. Edward Elgar: Cheltenham, Northampton (MA).
BATHELT, H./ COHENDET, P./ HENN, S./ SIMON, L. (2017): Innovation and Knowledge Creation: Challenges to the Field (Eds.: BATHELT, H./ COHENDET, P./ HENN, S./ SIMON, L), pp. 1-25. Edward Elgar: Cheltenham, Northampton (MA) (doi: 10.4337/9781782548522; URI:
BATHELT, H./ COE, N. M./ KERR, W. R./ ROBERT-NICOUD, F. (2017): Editorial: Economic Geography IMPULSES. In: Journal of Economic Geography (Vol. 17) pp. 927-933 (doi: 10.1093/jeg/lbx028; URI:
BATHELT, H./ LI, P./ ZHU, Y.-W. (2017): Geographies of Temporary Markets: An Anatomy of the Canton Fair. In: European Planning Studies (Vol. 25) pp. 1497-1515 (doi: 10.1080/09654313.2017.1327034; URI:
LI, P./ BATHELT, H. (2017): From Temporary Market to Temporary Cluster: Evolution of the Canton Fair. In: Area Development and Policy (Vol. 2) pp. 154-172 (doi: 10.1080/23792949.2017.1281085; URI:
RINALLO, D./ BATHELT, H./ GOLFETTO, F. (2017): Economic Geography and Industrial Marketing Views on Trade Shows: Collective Marketing and Knowledge Circulation. In: Industrial Marketing Management (Vol. 61) pp. 93-103 (doi: 10.1016/j.indmarman.2016.06.012; URI:
BATHELT, H./ ZHAO, J. (2016): Conceptualizing Multiple Clusters in Mega-City Regions: The Case of the Biomedical Industry in Beijing. In: Geoforum (Vol. 75) pp. 186-198 (doi: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2016.07.016; URI:
BATHELT, H./ LI, P.-F. (2015): Mapping Networks of Innovative Clusters between China and Canada. Policy Research Grants (Innovation) Report. Vancouver: Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada. Website:
BATHELT, H./ GIBSON, R. (2015): Learning in “Organized Anarchies”: The Nature of Technological Search Processes and Knowledge Flows at International Trade Fairs. In: Regional Studies (Vol. 49) pp. 985-1002 (doi: 10.1080/00343404.2013.783691; URI:
BATHELT, H./ ZENG, G. (Eds.) (2015): Temporary Knowledge Ecologies: The Rise of Trade Fairs in the Asia-Pacific Region. Edward Elgar: Cheltenham, Northampton (MA).
HENN, S./ BATHELT, H. (2015): Knowledge Generation and Field Reproduction in Temporary Clusters and the Role of Business Conferences. In: Geoforum (Vol. 58) pp. 104-113 (doi: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2014.10.015; URI:
BATHELT, H./ COHENDET, P. (2014): The Creation of Knowledge: Local Building, Global Accessing and Economic Development – Toward an Agenda. In: Journal of Economic Geography (Vol. 14) pp. 869-882 (doi: 10.1093/jeg/lbu027; URI:
BATHELT, H./ GOLFETTO, F./ RINALLO, D. (2014): Trade Shows in the Globalizing Knowledge Economy. Oxford University Press: Oxford.
BATHELT, H./ GLÜCKLER, J. (2014): Institutional Change in Economic Geography. In: Progress in Human Geography (Vol. 38) pp. 340-363 (doi: 10.1177/0309132513507823; URI:
BATHELT, H./ HENN, S. (2014): The Geographies of Knowledge Transfers Over Distance: Toward a Typology. In: Environment and Planning A (Vol. 46) pp. 1403-1424 (doi: 10.1068/a46115; URI:
BATHELT, H./ LI, P.-F. (2014): Global Cluster Networks – Foreign Direct Investment Flows From Canada to China. Journal of Economic Geography (Vol. 14) pp. 45-71 (doi: 10.1093/jeg/lbt005; URI:
BATHELT, H./ ZENG, G. (2014): The Development of Trade Fair Ecologies in China: Case Studies from Chengdu and Shanghai. In: Environment and Planning A (Vol. 46) pp. 511-530 (doi: 10.1068/a45661; URI:
GIBSON, R./ BATHELT, H. (2014): Field Configuration or Field Reproduction? The Dynamics of Global Trade Fair Cycles. In: Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftsgeographie (German Journal of Economic Geography) (Vol. 58) pp. 216-231 (doi: 10.1515/zfw.2014.0015; URI:

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