Oslo Summer School in Comparative Social Science Studies 1997

The Regional World: Territorial Development in a Global Economy

Main Discipline: Human Geography, Economics
Lecturer: Professor Michael Storper
Institution: UCLA, USA/University of Marne-la-Vallee, France
Dates: 4 August - 8 August

The modern world economy is becoming more and more interlinked, with changes in transport and communications, and new institutions which push for open trade. Yet this economy has not become placeless, a mere space of flows between interchangeable nodes in the global system. Paradoxically, the global economy is in many ways more than ever based on exchanges between places with very specific contributions to the global system. The global economy is, in this sense, a mosaic of regional economies. The advent of this system, however, involves very complex changes in the organization of economic systems, their geographies, and in the scales at which local, national and international economies operate.

This course will examine such relations -- their economic-geographical bases, the implications for economic development, and the institutional and political dilemmas which are created by this new economy. We will begin with theoretical foundations, reviewing the state of the art in economic geography today. We will emphasize the switch from an economy of hard inputs and outputs to one which is driven by specific groups of rules, cognitive foundations and knowledge -technology inputs. We will look at the transformation of competition, and its geographical implications. Throughout, a comparative international perspective will be emphasized in theoretical presentations and case study examples.

Basic readings

Background readings

The lecturer
Michael Storper is Professor of Geography at UCLA. He has worked on the process of regional development, focusing especially on successful European experiments in governing regional economies for better performance and greater social justice. In his recent works he argues that even in an age of globalization, localization still matters. Professor Storper's current work includes a project in Los Angeles, supported by the Haynes Foundation, which seeks to determine the possibility for upgrading the huge, low-wage sweatshop segment of the local manufacturing economy to higher wages while keeping it competitive. Professor Storper is a co-founder of the Manufacturing Technology Initiative, a coalition of public and private interests formed to revitalize Southern California's battered manufacturing base.