4368 Einführung in die Wirtschaftsgeographie
Univ.Prof. Dr. Jürgen Essletzbichler
Contact details
  • Type
  • Weekly hours
  • Language of instruction
02/13/19 to 02/28/19
Registration via LPIS
Notes to the course
Subject(s) Bachelor Programs
Day Date Time Room
Wednesday 03/06/19 01:00 PM - 03:00 PM TC.1.02
Wednesday 03/13/19 01:00 PM - 03:00 PM TC.1.02
Wednesday 03/20/19 01:00 PM - 03:00 PM TC.1.02
Wednesday 03/27/19 01:00 PM - 03:00 PM TC.1.02
Wednesday 04/03/19 01:00 PM - 03:00 PM TC.1.02
Wednesday 04/10/19 01:00 PM - 03:00 PM TC.1.02
Wednesday 05/08/19 01:00 PM - 03:00 PM TC.1.02
Wednesday 05/15/19 01:00 PM - 03:00 PM TC.1.02
Wednesday 05/22/19 01:00 PM - 03:00 PM TC.1.02
Wednesday 05/29/19 01:00 PM - 03:00 PM TC.1.02
Wednesday 06/05/19 01:00 PM - 03:30 PM TC.1.02
Friday 06/28/19 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM Ort nach Ankündigung
Wednesday 09/25/19 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM D4.0.133


We are living through a period of rapid economic change manifested in the globalization, neoliberalization, financialization and urbanization of economic activity, the emergence of new motor industries, rapidly occurring climate change and environmental destruction and increasing inequality at the national and international scales. This course shows how these processes are shaped by and shape the economic landscape, how a stretching of economic relations across the world implied by globalization simultaneously requires the investment of capital in particular places resulting in rapid urbanization, in nodes of economic activity from which those global flows of money, people and commodities are managed. The result of the myriad of decisions made by states, multi-national corporations, workers and consumers is a world characterized by uneven economic development. Some countries, regions, cities benefit from those processes while others loose. Trying to explain uneven spatial development is one of the hallmarks of economic geographic research and in this course we will see what this means in relation to the real world economy.

The course is divided into three modules. Module 1 will provide the basic conceptual building blocks and definitions.  It explores why and how geography is relevant for economics and business, how changes in organizing our livelihoods affect spatial economic patterns and how those existing patterns shape future economic activity. Module 2 will focus on globalization, on what is new, why it does not only produce winners, why and how its impact varies across states and regions and finally, how China has become a key player in the global economy. In Module 3 we will examine more closely regional and urban success stories in the Global North: High-Tech industrial spaces, Creative Cities, Global Cities.

Learning outcomes

After completing this course students should be able to

  • appreciate the relevance of a spatial approach to Economics
  • realize how economic geographic research complements economic research
  • comprehend why globalization does not lead to the end of geography
  • get some grounding in contemporary issues in economic geography
  • understand that markets and economy are always embedded in historically and geographically differentiated social, political and environmental relations

Attendance requirements

Students are required to attend 70% of all classes (you can miss a maximum of four)

Teaching/learning method(s)

  • independent critical reading of compulsory literature (before each respective class)
  • brief lectures
  • videos
  • weekly online quizzes to review reading material
  • class-discussions
  • case study analysis
  • in class data analysis and interpretation 


There is a total of 112 points (excl. bonus points):

  • 10 in-class online quizzes - only the BEST 6 Quizzes count (max. 5 points each) (30 points)
    • About readings and lecture material of the previous class
    • In weeks 2 to 11

Please be aware that this is an individual quiz. Cheating (eg. copying from your neighbor) will result in 0 points for the quiz. Repeated offenses will be passed on to the VR Lehre and risk a FOUR-MONTH BAN on exams and course.

  • Final exam (60 points)
    • A minimum of 30 points has to be reached in the final exam in order to pass the course. The exam will consist of a multiple choice part and a short open-answer part
    • NOTICE: If you can provide documentation that you cannot participate in the exam at the given date (eg. doctor’s note) or if you fail to obtain at least 30 points (50%) but achieve at least 6 points (10%) at the first attempt, then you are allowed a second attempt. Please notice that the second attempt will be during the summer break! Work related or holiday related excuses are not tolerated!
    • The exam will take place on Friday, June 28, 2019, 11.00-12.30
  • In class group work and class participation (2 points per week possible) (22 points)


0.0 to   < 50.0 points


50.0 to  < 62.5 points


62.5 to  < 75.0 points


75.0 to < 87.5 points


> = 87.5 points



NOTICEDirective on the conduct of examinations and dealing with cheating and fraud

Prerequisites for participation and waiting lists

There are no specific requirements for attending this course.

Availability of lecturer(s)



Univ.Prof. Dr. Jürgen Essletzbichler

Office hours: upon appointment



Hanne Schwarz

Tel.: +43 1 31336 4808

Administration office: D4.2.242 (entrance via 3rd floor)



There  is one required reading each week (please the list below for details). It makes sense to do the readings before class because we will have discussions on some of them (and you can get points for answers). Also, if you have questions about the readings we can work through them. Some of the readings are from an economic geography textbook that is quite easy to read and you can use to read up on concepts if you did not fully understand them.

Each class there are also weekly quizzes which will be on the powerpoint slides and the readings of the previous week. Each week there are plenty of additional readings listed if you want to explore some of the topics in greater detail (they are not mandatory, but are of interest nevertheless).

Additional (blank) field






Introduction: What is economic geography?


Explaining uneven development


Economic crisis and responses: Globalization, Neoliberalism and Financialization





What’s new about globalization? Global value chains


Is globalization always better? People and places left behind


Why are some countries coping better than others? Institutions - modes of regulation


How does China do it? From market road to silk road




What makes Silicon Valley tick? High tech regions


Is it all about the hipsters? Creative Cities


Who manages the global economy? Global Cities








FINAL EXAM: Friday, 28. 6, 11am-12.30pm




All LVs take place between 1pm and 3pm in TC 1.02.


Unit details

Unit Date Contents
1 06.03.2019


This part of the course introduces basic geographic concepts such as space, place, scale, territory, relations and shows how a capitalist economy results in uneven spatial development, and why we observe distinct economic periods that generate their own geographies of winners and loosers.


Week 1 (6.3.): Introduction: What is economic geography?

Here we will start exploring how we might think about geography influencing economic processes, business decisions, urban development, etc. We will pick up different theoretical lenses (as some of you have done in ZuWiI) and see how this may influence our interpretation of the global economy. We then look at Facebook, a company that must be, surely, footloose and not bound to particular places, to see how different geographical concepts can be used to understand where facebook carries out various tasks of its business.

Required Reading: Coe et al. (2013) Chapter 1.


Additional Readings:

Acemoglu, D. and Robinson, J. (2012) Why Nations Fail? A reponse to Jared Diamond. The New York Review of Books. August 16, 2012 Issue.

Essletzbichler, J. (2007). Economic geography. Entry in Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology.

Mackinnon, D. and Cumbers, A. (2007). An Introduction to Economic Geography. Globalization, Uneven Development and Place. Pearson. Chapter 1: Introducing economic geography.

Sachs, J. (1997). Nature, nurture and growth. The Economist, Saturday, June 14, 1997, vol. 343, issue 8021, pp21-25.

Sheppard, E., Porter, Faust, Nagar (2009): A World of Difference. Encountering Development. Guilford Press.

2 13.03.2019

Week 2 (13.3): Explaining uneven development

This see-saw movement of uneven development, of some places growing while others decline, is often considered by economic geographers as the key puzzle that needs to be explained. In order to do that they try to think how location decisions of firms and workers are tied to how the economy, the way we organize our livelihoods, works. We will contrast and compare our current economic system, capitalism, with other systems, such as feudalism, and work out how this generates simultaneously, globalization (the spatial extension and intensification of spatially-extensive links) and urbanization (the concentration of money, people, businesses, infrastructure) in particular places.

Required Reading: Coe et al. (2013) Chapter 3


Additional readings:

Dunford, m. and Liu, W. (2017) Uneven and combined development. Regional Studies 51: 69-85.

Harvey, D. (1982). The Limits to Capital. Blackwell.

Harvey, D. (2016). The Ways of the World.  Profile Books: London.

Johnston, R.J., Gregory, D., Pratt, G., and Watts, M. (2000) The Dictionary of Human Geography. Entries on Capital; Capitalism; Circuit of Capital;

Smith, N. (1984). Uneven Development. Georgia: Athens.

Storper, M. and Walker, R. (1989) The capitalist imperative. Blackwell.

3 20.03.2019

Week 3 (20.3): Economic crisis and responses: Globalization, Neoliberalism, Financialization

Our abstract analysis of our economic system in week 2 will show that the enormous growth in productivity is always accompanied by the possibility of economic crisis. These crises appear repeatedly throughout economic history. In order to contain these contradictions regulations are required: property rights need to be established and defended; workers have to be protected from working too many hours; costly inventions need to be protected by patent law; The specific configuration of the economy-regulation nexus allows us to distinguish different economic periods. In the 1970s, a period characterized as Fordism-Keynesianism entered a crisis resulting in high unemployment, low profit rates, little return in financial markets that triggered a period of experimentation and change. While researchers still quibble about the nature of this new period, most agree that it is structured by three interlinked processes: globalization, neoliberalization, financialization. We will find out what they are and how it affects different places and regions.

Required reading:  Aalbers, M. (2009) Geographies of the financial crisis. Area 41.1, 34–42


Additional Reading:

Becker, J. (2002) Akkumulation, Regulation, Territorium. Metropolis: Marburg.

Harvey, D. (2005) A brief history of neoliberalism. Oxford University Press.

Hackworth J (2016) Defiant neoliberalism and the danger of Detroit. Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie 107(5): 540-551.

Lipietz, A (1998) Nach dem Ende des “Goldenen Zeitalters”. Regulation und Transformation kapitalistischer Gesellschaften. Argument Verlag: Berlin.

Peck, J. (2010). Constructions of Neoliberal Reasons. Oxford University Press.

Zwan, van der N. (2014). Making sense of financialization. Socio-Economic Review 12: 99-129.

4 27.03.2019


This module looks at the most recent period of globalization, examines how different countries and places influence the nature of globalization and how globalization processes in turn, benefit some and harm other countries, cities and regions.


Week 4 (27.3): What’s new about globalization? Global Value Chains

At least since 1492 we can speak of a world where people in different continents were linked through the movement of goods, people and money. However, economic integration sped up substantially with the industrial revolution and reached its first peak just prior to WWI in 1913. In this period, trade is well capture through Ricardian trade theory, some call it the old international division of labor.  What we observe now and starting in the mid-1970s is a new international division of labor, a global economy where value chains are broken up and different tasks are distributed around the globe generating business opportunities but also risks for countries in the Global South.

Required reading: Werner, M. (2016) Global production networks and uneven development: exploring geographies of devaluation, disinvestment, and exclusion. Geography Compass 10/11, pp. 457-469.


Additional readings:

Coe et al. (2013): Chapter 8.

World Bank (2017) Measuring and Analyzing the Impact of GVCs on Economic Development. Global Value Chain Report. World Bank. Washington, DC.

There is lot of literature on commodity and value chains available. Key names are Gereffi, Bair, Coe, Werner (check the list of references in Werner (2016) for detailed references.

5 03.04.2019

Week 5 (3.4.): Is globalization always better? People and places left behind

We are usually told that trade increases aggregate output and hence, is a good thing. Looking more closely though we observe that there are winners and loosers of globalization and that the people and places that loose turn increasingly to the political process (Trump, BREXIT, Le Pen) to express their discontent with globalization and further economic integration.

Required Reading: Rodriguez-Pose. A. (2018) The revenge of the places that don’t matter (and what to do about it). Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society 11: 189-209.


Additional Readings:

Essletzbichler, J., Disslbacher, F. and Moser, M. (2018) The victims of neoliberal globalization and the rise of he populist vote: a comparative analysis of three recent electoral decisions. Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society. 11: 73-94.

Ghemawat, P. (2017) Globalization in the Age of Trump: Protectionism will change how companies do buesinss – but not in the ways you think. Harvard Business Review 95, issue 4 (July/August), pp. 112-123.

Rodrik, D. (2018). Populism and the economics of globalization. Journal of International Business Policy.

Stiglitz, J. (2017) The overselling of globalization. Business Economics 52: 129-137.

Rodriguez Pose, A.

6 10.04.2019

Week 6 (10.4.): Why are some countries coping better than others?

States, institutions and regulations are important for economies to function properly. But there is not a single but many different types of state forms that exacerbate or soften the impact of globalization on its people and regions.

Required reading: Coe et al. (2013) Chapter 4.


Additional Readings:

Esping-Anderson, G. (1990) The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism, Chapter 1. Polity Press.

Hall, P. and Soskice, D. (ed) (2001) Varieties of Capitalism. Oxford University Press.

Hancke, B., Rhodes, M. and Thatcher, M. (eds) (2007) Beyond Varieties of Capitalism: Conflict, Contradictions, and Complementarities in the European Economy. Oxford University Press.

Mahoney, J. and Thelen, K. (2015). Advances in comparative historical analysis. Cambridge University Press.

Stockhammer, E., Durand, C. and List, L. (2016). European growth models and working class restructuring. An international post-Keynesian political economy perspective. Environment and Planning A 48: 1804-1828.

Zhang, J. and Peck, J. (2016). Variegated capitalism, Chinese Style: Regional models, multi-scalar constructions. Regional Studes 50: 52-78

7 08.05.2019

Week 7 (8.5.): How does China do it? From Market Road to Silk Road

It is difficult to think of the global economy without mentioning China. Since the late 1970s China functions as the workshop of the world, a huge market for raw materials, capital goods and increasingly consumer goods, and as main debtor facilitating the consumption boom in the United States. We will briefly review the China’s path to key player world economy and then examine the shifting development strategies that China took and will see that geography and the production of space is critical to understand China’s success.

Required reading: Harvey, D. (2005). Neoliberalism “with Chinese characteristics”. Chapter 5 in Harvey, D. A Brief History of Neoliberalism, pp. 120-151.


Additional Readings:

Dunford, M. and Liu, W. (2019) Chinese pespectives on the belt and road initiative. Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society. 11: 1-21.

Summers, T. (2016) China’s ‘New Silk Roads’: subnational regions and networks of global political economy. Third World Quarterly 37: 1628-1643.

Zhang, J. and Peck, J. (2016). Variegated capitalism, Chinese Style: Regional models, multi-scalar constructions. Regional Studies 50: 52-78

Zheng, S. and Kahn, M.E. (2013) China’s bullet trains facilitate market integration and mitigate the cost of megacity growth. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)

8 15.05.2019


While Module 2 examined various aspects of globalization - the geographic extension and intensification of economic links - this part of the course explains why, despite globalization, more people than ever live in cities and economic activity remains concentrated in particular localities. More specifically this module will examine three different approaches to understand the continuing or renewed success of regions and cities in the Global North. The key ingredients in those stories are innovation, knowledge, talent and power.

Week 8 (15.5.): What makes Silicon Valley tick? High-tech regions

We will develop a general account of agglomeration economies that explains why firms and people cluster in space and then look more carefully at the genesis and continual transformation of Silicon Valley, probably still the best known example of a high-tech region.

Required reading: Sturgeon T. (2003) What really goes on in Silicon Valley? Spatial clustering and dispersal in modular production networks. Journal of Economic Geography 3: 199-225.


Additonal Readings:

Bresnahan, T., Gambardella, A. and Saxenian, A. (2001) ‘Old Economy’ inputs for ‘New Economy’ outcomes: cluster formation in the new Silicon Valleys. Industrial and Corporate Change 10: 835-860

Kenney, M. (ed.) Understanding Silicon Valley: Anatomy of an Entrepreneurial Region. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.

Maskell, P., Malmberg, A. (1999) Localized learning and industrial competitiveness.

Cambridge Journal of Economics, 23(2): 167–186.

Porter, M. (1998). Clusters and the new economics of competition. Harvard Business Review. Nov/Dec.

Saxenian, A. (1991) The origins and dynamics of production networks in Silicon Valley.

Research Policy, 20: 423–437.

Saxenian, A. (1994) Regional Advantage. California.

Scott, A. (1988) Metropolis. California.  

Storper, M. (1995) The resurgence of regional economies, ten years later: the region as a nexus of

untraded dependencies.European Urban and Regional Studies, 2(3): 191–221.

9 22.05.2019

Week 9 (22.5) : Is it all about the Hipsters? Creative Cities

While Silicon Valley is a story starting with firms, entrepreneurs and production, Richard Florida’s creative cities argument starts with creative people. In the first case, people follow jobs, in Florida’s view jobs follow people. That is of course a classic chicken-egg problem with new geographical economists believing that people follow jobs while urban economists tend to believe that jobs follow people. While we may not solve this debate, there are value-able insights in both approaches and here we look the strengths and limits of the creative cities argument but also the policy conclusions that follow from it.

Required Reading: Peck, J. (2012) Recreative city: Amsterdam, vehicular ideas and the adaptive spcaes of creativity policy. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 36: 462-485.


Additional Readings:

Florida, R. (2002) The Rise of the Creative Class. Basic Books: New York.  

Florida, R. (2002) The economic geography of talent. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 92: 743-755.

Scott, A. (2006) Creative cities: Conceptual issues and policy questions. Journal of Urban Affairs 28: 1-17.

10 29.05.2019

Week 10 (29.5): Who manages the global economy? Global cities

The global economy is a complex place. New information and transportation technologies means that the relative distance between places shrinks and hence, small differences in cost structures, infrastructure, or business environment can be exploited by global firms. However, this means managing increasingly complex resource flows (money, people, value chains, pollution, profits) that requires highly a set of highly specialized business services with offices in multiple countries, regions and cities. These advanced producers services (as they are often called) sit in cities at the top of the urban hierarchy, so-called global cities. Using London as an example we will see that the physical fabric and economic structure of those cities has been transformed tremendously, but that those changes in place cannot be understood without their relations to other places. It’s their position in this global network of flows rather than particular structure of the city that makes them stand out.

Required reading: Doreen Massey (2007) Capital Delight. Chapter 1 in World City. Policy Press.


Additional Readings:

Sassen, S. (1990). Global Cities. Oxford.

There is a lot on world cities, global cities, etc. Also check out the work of the “Globalization and World Cities Research Network”

11 05.06.2019

Week 11 (05.06.): Conclusion and Exam Prep

12 28.06.2019

FINAL EXAM: 11:00 - 12:30

Last edited: 2019-07-22