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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 and industrial 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 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. (2014): The Creation of Knowledge: Local Building, Global Accessing and Economic Development – Toward an Agenda. Journal of Economic Geography (Vol. 14) pp. 869-882 (doi: 10.1093/jeg/lbu027).
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).
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.
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 (URL: http://joeg.oxfordjournals.org/content/14/1/45).
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).
GIBSON, R./ BATHELT, H. (2014): Field Configuration or Field Reproduction? The Dynamics of Global Trade Fair Cycles. In: Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftsgeographie (Vol. 58) pp. 216-231.
BATHELT, H. (2013): Post-Reunification Restructuring and Corporate Re-Bundling in the Bitterfeld-Wolfen Chemical Industry, East Germany. In: International Journal of Urban and Regional Research (Vol. 37) pp. 1456-1485 (doi: 10.1068/a45661).
BATHELT, H./ GIBSON, R. (2013): Learning in “Organized Anarchies”: Technological Search Processes and Knowledge Flows at International Trade Fairs. In: Regional Studies (Vol. 47). doi: 10.1080/00343404.2013.782591.
BATHELT, H./ MUNRO, A. K./ SPIGEL, B. (2013): Challenges of Transformation: Innovation, Re-bundling and Traditional Manufacturing in Canada’s Technology Triangle. In: Regional Studies (Vol. 47) pp. 1111-1130 (doi: 10.1080/00343404.2011.602058).
BATHELT, H./ ZENG, G. (2013): The Development of Trade Fair Ecologies in China: Case Studies from Chengdu and Shanghai. In: Environment and Planning A (Vol. 45).
Forthcoming. PDF
BATHELT, H./ GLÜCKLER, J. (2012): Wirtschaftsgeographie. Ökonomische Beziehungen in räumlicher Perspektive (Economic Geography. Economic Relations in Spatial Perspective). 3rd, Completely Revised and Restructured Edition. UTB - Ulmer: Stuttgart.
BATHELT, H./ SPIGEL, B. (2012): The Spatial Economy of North American Trade Fairs. In: Canadian Geographer (Vol. 56) pp. 18-38.
BATHELT, H./ ZENG, G. (2012): Strong Economic Growth in Weak Networks: Producer–User Interaction and Knowledge Brokers in the Greater Shanghai Chemical Industry. In: Applied Geography (Vol. 32) pp. 158-170.
LI, P.-F./ BATHELT, H./ WANG, J. (2012): Network Dynamics and Cluster Evolution: Different Trajectories in the Aluminum Extrusion Industry in Dali, China. In: Journal of Economic Geography (Vol. 12) pp. 127-155.
BATHELT, H./ FELDMAN, M. P./ KOGLER, D. F. (Eds.) (2011): Beyond Territory: Dynamic Geographies of Knowledge Creation, Diffusion, and Innovation. Routledge: London.
BATHELT, H./ GLÜCKLER, J. (2011): The Relational Economy: Geographies of Knowing and Learning. Oxford University Press: Oxford.
BATHELT, H./ KOGLER, D. F./ MUNRO, A. K. (2011): Social Foundations of Regional Innovation and the Role of University Spin-offs. In: Industry and Innovation (Vol. 18, No. 5) pp. 461-486.
BATHELT, H./ MUNRO, A. K./ SPIGEL, B. (2011): Challenges of Transformation: Innovation, Re-bundling and Traditional Manufacturing in Canada's Technology Triangle. Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography - PEEG # 11.11. Urban and Regional Research Centre, University of Utrecht: Utrecht.
BATHELT, H./ TURI, P. (2011): Local, Global and Virtual Buzz: The Importance of Face-to-Face Contact in Economic Interaction and Possibilities to go Beyond. In: Geoforum (Vol. 42) pp. 520-529.
SCHULDT, N./ BATHELT, H. (2011): International Trade Fairs and Global Buzz, Part II: Practices of Global Buzz. In: European Planning Studies (Vol. 19) pp. 1-22.
ZENG, G./ BATHELT, H. (2011): Divergent Growth Trajectories in China’s Chemical Industry: The Case of the Newly Developed Industrial Parks in Shanghai, Nanjing and Ningbo. In: GeoJournal (Vol. 76, No. 6) pp. 675-698.

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