In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Economic Geography

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Industrial Geography, Industrial Spaces
  • The Global Economy
  • Trade, Regionalization, and Governance
  • Neoliberalization of Economic Space
  • New Economic Geography and Geographical Economics
  • Clusters and Agglomeration Economies
  • Cultural Economy, Creative Capital
  • Relational Economic Geography, Firms, and Networks
  • Institutional and Evolutionary Economic Geography
  • Research and Development and Technological Change
  • Economic Geography at the Periphery

Related Articles Expand or collapse the "related articles" sectionabout

Forthcoming Articles Expand or collapse the "forthcoming articles" section



Geography Economic Geography
Jessie P.H. Poon
  • LAST REVIEWED: 11 October 2019
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 February 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199874002-0004


Economic geography is a major field and specialization within human geography. It has undergone several theoretical “turns” since the 1960s, and this has influenced methodological approaches as well. For example, economic geography in the 1960s and 1970s was focused on the scientific analysis of location. This involves using analytical models and high levels of mathematical abstraction. By the 1980s, major theoretical renewal in the subfield was led by a group of California geographers who began to explore post-Fordist industrial spaces away from more Fordist (Henry Ford’s popularization of mass production techniques) themes that had characterized industrial geography in the 1970s. Since then, economic geographers have attempted to reassemble the “economy” in terms of social, cultural, and institutional dimensions as well. Explaining economic activities in time and space assumes a multiscalar perspective because economic space is found to be constituted at various scales from the local and regional to the global or some combination of these. Globalization has led to a generation of work on the international activities of firms, their interactions and trade with one another and regions, and their production spaces. Another important development has been the rediscovery of geography among economists and business academics. Although economists have long been interested in the spatial analysis of economic activities in the field of regional science, the new economic geographers distinguish themselves through a set of analytical frameworks enabling them to model increasing returns to scale, agglomeration forces, and imperfect competition. Similarly, business academics have begun to study the spatial clustering of firms in regional economies and the locational drivers of multinational firms.

General Overviews

A number of economic geography textbooks are available that may be useful as introductory texts for those who are unfamiliar with the subfield. Coe, et al. 2007; Aoyama, et al. 2010; and Stutz and Warf 2011 are good sources with which to begin; for the novice, they serve as excellent introductory texts, covering a number of salient topics and concepts. Earlier economic geography publications tend to be concerned with resource allocation in space, as exemplified by Lloyd and Dicken 1990. Dicken 2011 supersedes that earlier book on location analysis and expands the geographic scale of analysis to the international level. However, the several theoretical “turns” (see the Introduction) resulted in a few edited collections. Clark, et al. 2000; Sheppard and Barnes 1999; and Barnes, et al. 2003 showcase the breadth of phenomena that contemporary economic geographers are studying.

  • Aoyama, Yuko, James T. Murphy, and Susan Hanson. Key Concepts in Economic Geography. London: SAGE, 2010.

    Targeted at an upper-level undergraduate class, this textbook clarifies over twenty concepts in economic geography including firm location, regional growth, uneven development, and the global economy.

  • Barnes, Trevor J., Jamie Peck, Eric Sheppard, and Adam Tickell, eds. Reading Economic Geography. Oxford: Blackwell, 2003.

    Collates major publications in economic geography that represent the themes or “stuff” of the field. This is a good book to read for an overview of the leaders in economic geography and their signature contributions.

  • Clark, Gordon L., Maryann P. Feldman, and Meric S. Gertler, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Economic Geography. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

    This volume is a collection of articles on major topics such as globalization, regional growth and decline, and changing economic systems. It is a comprehensive book that celebrates the “differentiation” of economic geography in terms of a mix of region, culture, policy, finance, and market factors.

  • Coe, Neil M., Philip F. Kelly, and Henry Wai-chung Yeung. Economic Geography: A Contemporary Introduction. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2007.

    This introduction includes commodity chains, the environment, transnational corporations, culture and gender, and dialogue on the struggle between government and corporations to control the economy, as well as the unevenness of development and economic growth. This text contrasts the influences of geography with management and economic principles and theories and contains some case studies on Asia.

  • Dicken, Peter. Global Shift: Mapping the Changing Contours of the World Economy. 6th ed. New York: Guilford, 2011.

    Maps the transformation in global production, internationalization of supply chains, and the activities of multinational corporations. This edition explains why geography matters in the face of globalization, using studies of clothing, electronics, and automobile industries and their production networks. Originally published in 1986.

  • Lloyd, Peter E., and Peter Dicken. Location in Space: A Theoretical Approach to Geography. 3d ed. London: Harper and Row, 1990.

    In one of the earliest books on modern economic geography, Lloyd and Dicken conceptualize economic activities as a system. Interconnections among production, work, actors (university, government agency, and firms), and their outputs are emphasized. Originally published in 1972.

  • Sheppard, Eric S., and Trevor J. Barnes, eds. A Companion to Economic Geography. Oxford: Blackwell, 1999.

    Sheppard and Barnes provide a collection of works that examines the changes affecting global economies from a geographical perspective. This book also charts major intellectual shifts and alternative approaches to the field. The sections of this volume include the worlds of modeling, politics, feminism, institutionalism, production, resources, social connections, and circulation.

  • Stutz, Frederick P., and Barney Warf. The World Economy: Geography, Business and Development. 6th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2011.

    This textbook provides a good overview of the salient topics in economic geography. It has a much more North American flavor and provides a wealth of statistics on population, trade, foreign direct investment, agriculture, cities, and transportation.

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