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Economic geography

The research in economic geography is focused on:

  • Regional economic change and structural development, e.g regional specialization and labour mobility
  • Geographical aspect of international business, e.g international trade, foreign direct investments, and technology and knowledge transfer

Our research is partly carried out at two research centers: Centre for International Business Studies and Center for Regional Analysis

  Faculty  |  Projects  | Publications (new page)

Faculty and doctoral students

Claes-Göran Alvstam, professor
Sarah Franz, doctoral student
Martin Henning, associate professor
Inge Ivarsson, professor
Roman Martin, associate professor
Curt Nestor, PhD
Jimi Nilsson, doctoral student
Swati Ravi, doctoral student
Patrik Ström, associate professor
Alexander Wong, doctoral student

Current research projects

The role of demand in new regional industrial path development - the food industry in transformation
Roman Martin & Hanna Martin

Research on regional transformation has advanced our understanding on how regional economic change occurs as an outcome of innovation and knowledge creation processes. It has focused on how changes in the supply side of innovation influence regional renewal, largely neglecting the role of demand. In this project we aim to gain a better understanding of the role of demand in new regional industrial path development, especially focusing on the transformation of the food sector towards environmentally friendly production. The food sector is a relevant case for two reasons. First, it faces the need to change and renew its production system in order to cope with climate change and environmental pressures. Second, the food industry is consumer-driven and is characterized by complex and diverse demand conditions. Theory building will depart from accounts on regional industrial path development and regional innovation systems, as well as the work on sociotechnical transitions. In the empirical analysis we will focus on two Swedish regions – Scania and Värmland - and combine quantitative and qualitative techniques, including case studies of environmentally friendly food products. The project will break new ground in research on regional transformation of mature industries and will inform policies seeking to promote industrial renewal via demand conditions.

Funded by The Swedish Research Council Formas, 2017-2019

The Globalization of R&D in Multinational Enterprises: A Need of New Theoretical Explanations
Inge Ivarsson & Claes G. Alvstam

In earlier research, we have shown that the large multinational enterprises (MNEs) in Sweden probably are more globalised than similar MNEs from other countries. They have now the majority of sales, production and employment outside Sweden, where especially the emerging markets in Asia have become important. These geographical shifts are also visible in the R&D activities, where half of their investments now are made abroad, including in Asia and other emerging markets. The aim of the present study is to analyse the driving mechanisms behind this new trend of R&D globalisation in MNEs, where foreign R&D units increasingly are involved in the development of new technology for global, regional and local markets, rather than in their traditional role to locally adapt the parent corporations existing technology, and where co-location with manufacturing units is a main locational determinant. Together with increasing acquisitions of companies with specialised competence, this results in a more decentralized location pattern of the R&D units among MNEs. Of special interest will be to analyse how this effects the strategically important R&D the MNEs traditionally carry out in their home country. A study of how Swedish MNEs have globalized their R&D will generate internationally unique knowledge. The overall aim with the study is to generate new empirical and theoretical knowledge within a new research area, with relevance also for decision makers in the private and public sectors.

Funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond 2015-2017

Creative destruction, destructive destruction and labour market dynamics: Longitudinal trajectories from regional crisis to new successful combinations?
Martin Henning

From a Schumpeterian perspective, crises can be regarded as a necessary component of qualitative economic change. Despite this potentially positive outcome of such destruction, little is still known about when a regional crisis may be creative and lead to new successful development paths, or when regions become trapped in a negative development path. Using unique Swedish longitudinal micro-data that matches workers with firms and regions from the 1960s until today, this project will analyze which mechanisms lead to a so called ‘creative destruction’ for individuals and regions, and which lead to ‘destructive destruction’. The project will thus deepen our understanding about which individuals, firms and regions are able to benefit from qualitative economic change, and under which circumstances this is the case. This project will thus produce important insights on how labour market dynamics transforms the industrial portfolio of regions, and how this leads to varying preconditions for sustaining growth and welfare in different regions. The project is funded by the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, and is a collaboration between researchers at Umeå University and School of Business, Economic and Law at the University of Gothenburg.

Funded by Forte 2014-2016

Gothenburg in Asia – Asia in Gothenburg
Cheryl Cordeiro & Claes G. Alvstam

This project is connected to the preparations for Gothenburg 400 year- jubilee celebration in 2021. Its purpose is to throw further light of the mutually advantageous long-term commercial and cultural relationship between the City of Gothenburg and Asia, with a particular focus on the relations in China. Not only the traditional trade and corporate relations are focused, but also various kinds of personal migration and interchange, e.g. students, food and restaurants, joint public sector projects within the sister city collaborations with Shanghai. The idea is to demonstrate how the commercial relations between Gothenburg and Asia already in the 17th and the 18th century gave rise to a spirit of openness to the world that characterizes the city also 400 years later.

Funded by Anna Ahrenberg Research Foundation 2014-2015

PhD projects

New innovation models in the bio-tech industry
Swati Ravi

This project focus on understanding the effects of geographic proximity on a new R&D model launched by Pharmaceutical multinationals to tap external innovation. With a significant innovation crisis in the life science industry, proactively seeking out innovative partners for research and joint development of drugs has been a common trend among Pharmaceutical multinational companies. A unique, emerging way to organize this- is through the creation of an Innovation hub within the pharmaceutical company’s premises to house small and medium sized high tech companies that specialize in related technologies to promote synergies through working in close proximity. In specific, I am making a case- study in context of AstraZeneca AB’s R&D unit, Mölndal- a pioneer in launching BioVenture Hub instituted in its own facility in Mölndal, Gothenburg. The main focus in the project is to elucidate the role of geographic proximity to facilitate social, cognitive, organizational and institutional proximity to access and foster innovation.

Agile Globalization - Contextual Hybridization of a Management Concept
Alexander Wong

The impact Lean concept has had on industrial production for the past 30 years, is the same impact Agile has had in the software development-industry, but in only one decade. Due to the simple fact that agile methods has led to better results, agile development has become standard in software development projects today, at least in Northern Europe and in the US. There are many conceptual similarities between Lean and Agile, both advocate an attitude towards understanding customer-value and the market, both concepts has also shown to be applicable in the creation of both products and services. Successful management concepts has a tendency to spread geographically and diffuse into other industries, Lean is a good example of this and Agile is now following a similar pattern.

The Agile concept has mainly been studied by scholars from the IT-field, while the contextual implication of Lean has been studied from both Economic Geography, International Business, and Organizational-perspectives. Studies have shown that the implementation of Lean, and other Management Concepts, can be easier or more difficult to implement in different geographical and cultural contexts; there are indications that show that the same applies to Agile. My research area focuses on what happens when a management concept, such as Agile, diffuses and hybridizes with different geographical contexts. The management implications of my research aims to aid MNCss on how to effectively implement Agile ways of working in their international organisation.


Inge Ivarsson


Centre for Regional Analysis
Martin Henning


Centre for International Business Studies
Claes-Göran Alvstam

Page Manager: Malin Tengblad|Last update: 12/6/2018

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