Michael Storper


Director, Global Public Affairs@UCLA Luskin
Faculty Cluster Leader, Global Processes and Institutions
Professor of Urban Planning, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs

Home Department: Urban Planning

Areas of Interest

European Union, International Development, Latin America, Politics, Regional Political Economy.




Professor Storper’s research and teaching interests fall into five, closely linked, areas: Economic geography, meaning the forces that affect the ways the economy organizes itself in geographical space. These forces are many and sundry, ranging from technology, industry structure and market structure, to institutions, effects of history, and policies. A core problem for me is the long-standing tension between the geographical concentration of activity and specialization of regional and national economies and the spreading out of activity into wider geographical spaces, both of which are occurring in the current wave of globalization. Globalization, meaning the ever-increasing geographical scale of economic processes, and some of the associated processes of change in the scale at which management of firms, markets, and institutions operate. I am interested especially in the locational processes described above, and how they change the geographical distribution of economic activities and hence the composition of economies at different territorial scales and their development processes. Questions of interplace inequalities, polarization, convergence and divergence, can be seen strongly from an economic geographical perspective. Technology as a force in structuring economic geography and globalization. Technological change is a key motor of geography, because it changes the structure of transport and trade costs. It does this in complex ways, and many of them are indirect. My research also concerns technological competencies at different territorial levels, the geography of technological innovation, and how this affects development processes in regions and nations.

Regions, especially city regions. The geographical concentration of activity is a key motor of the composition and functioning of urban and regional economies, their specializations, their labor markets, and their associated processes of physical and social development. Economic development: economic geography is a strong way into examining the process of economic development. Though geography is structured by development, development is also structured by the unfolding of broad economic-geographical forces. Comparative economic development can be seen through the lens of economic geography, which can also help understand the geographical differentiation of institutions, which in turn have strong effects on development.

Selected Research

1. Michael Storper, Thomas Kemeny, Naji Makarem, Taner Osman. “The Rise and Fall of Urban Economies.” (Stanford Business Books, 2015)

2. Michael Storper. “Keys to the City: How Economics, Institutions, Social Interaction, and Politics Shape Development.” (Princeton University Press, 2013).

3.   Michael Storper,  Thomas Farole, and Andres Rodriguez-Pose. “Cohesion Policy in the European Union: Growth, Geography, Institutions.”  JCMS 2011 Volume 49. Number 5. pp. 1089–1111.