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Ron Martin

Emeritus Professor of Economic Geography
Research Associate, Centre for Business Research, Judge Business School
Professorial Fellow, St Catharine’s College


Ron Martin is Professor of Economic Geography. He is also a Research Associate of the Centre for Business Research attached to the Judge Business School. He is also one of the Team in the Centre for Geographical Economic Research. He holds a Professorial Fellowship at St Catharine’s College. He will be a Leverhulme Emeritus Fellow for 2015-2017.


  • Awarded the British Academy’s ‘Thank-Offering to Britain’ Senior Research Fellowship, 1997-1998
  • Elected Academician of the Academy of Social Sciences, 2001
  • Selected by the American Economic Association in 2003 as one of the World’s Most Cited Economists
  • Elected Fellow of the British Academy, 2005
  • Awarded Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship for 2007-2010
  • Selected to give the 2009 Roepke Lecture in Economic Geography (AAG Annual Conference, Las Vegas)
  • Distinguished Speaker Lecture, International Conference on ‘The Changing Geography of Money, Banking and Finance in a Post-Crisis World’, University of Ancona, October 2010
  • Awarded ‘Best Paper’ (with co-author, Harry Garretsen) in Spatial Economic Analysis, 2010
  • Elected President of St Catharine’s College, 2010-2013
  • Selected to give the Twenty-First Annual Gregory Lecture, University of Southampton, 2013
  • Appointed Member of Lead Expert Group on the Future of Cities, UK Government Office for Science, 2013-2015
  • Appointed Commissioner on London-Cambridge Growth Corridor Commission, 2015
  • Elected President of the Regional Studies Association, 2015
  • Awarded Leverhulme Emeritus Fellowship for 2015-2017
  • Awarded ‘Best Paper’ in Territory, Politics, Governance, 2016
  • Awarded Victoria Medal by Royal Geographical Society for ‘Outstanding Contributions to Regional Economic Development Theory’, 2016


Professorial Fellowship at St Catharine’s College.

Ron is Principal Investigator of a major ESRC project on Structural Transformation and City Economic Evolutions, part of the ESRC’s Urban Transformations Initiative. (2015-2018)

He is Co-Investigator on an ESRC project on Manufacturing Renaissance?

Research interests

Ron’s research interests fall into five major areas:

The Geographies of Work

This strand of his research goes back originally to his PhD on wage and employment dynamics in urban labour markets in the United States, and has since broadened to encompass the theory of local labour markets, local unemployment problems, trade union decline, work in the ‘new economy’, issues of wage and income inequality, and the local impact of workfare schemes. Books published include: Regional Wage Dynamics and Unemployment, 1981; Union Retreat and the Regions (with P. Sunley and KJ. Wills), 1996; Unemployment and Social Exclusion (with P. Lawless and S. Hardy), 1998; Geographies of Labour Market Inequality (with P. Morrison) 2003; Putting Workfare in Place (with P. Sunley and C. Nativel), 2005

The Geographies of Financial Systems

Over recent years, Ron has played a key role in the development of a new economic geography of money. His research under this theme covers global financial centres, the spatial structure of financial systems, venture capital markets, and the role of finance in regional economic development. Books include: Money, Power and Space (with S. Corbridge and N. Thrift), 1994; Money and the Space Economy, 1999; Regional Venture Capital Policy in Germany and the UK (with C. Berndt, B. Klagge and P. Sunley), 2003

Regional Economic Development

Ron’s research under this head covers a numbers of related issues. One is concerned with exploring the meaning, nature and significance of regional and urban competitive advantage. In what sense do regions and cities compete? What are the determinants of regional differences in competitive advantage? What are the implications for long-run regional development? A second theme has to do with the geographies of the so-called ‘New Economy’, and why this latest phase in capitalist development is emanating from some places rather than others, and how in turn it is reshaping the economic landscape. A third theme is concerned with the scope and limits of the concept of ‘clusters’ for understanding uneven regional development. Books include: Regional Development in the 1990s (with P. Townroe), 1992; Clusters and Regional Development: Critical Reflections and Explorations (with B. Asheim and P. Cooke), 2006; Regional Competitive Advantage (with M. Kitson and P. Tyler), 2006; The Competitiveness of English Cities (with J. Simmie), 2007.

Economic Theory and Economic Geography (and especially Evolutionary Economic Geography)

Economic geography has always drawn, directly or indirectly, on economics as a source of theoretical inspiration. Ron’s particular interest is in the application of heterodox forms of economics to economic geography, as well as responding to the recent emergence of the so-called ‘new economic geography’ within mainstream economics. More especially, his current focus is on the importation of concepts and ideas from evolutionary economics, and on exploring the scope for and nature of an evolutionary economic geography. Key articles include: Paul Krugman’s Geographical Economics and Its Implications for Regional Development Theory: A Critical Assessment, (With P. Sunley), Economic Geography, 72, 3 , pp. 260-293. Slow Convergence? The New Endogenous Growth Theory and Regional Development (With P. Sunley) Economic Geography , 74, 3, pp. 201-227. The New ‘Geographical Turn’ in Economics: Some Critical Reflections, Cambridge Journal of Economics, 23, pp 63-91. Books include: The Economic Geography Reader (with J. Bryson, N. Henry, D. Keeble), 1999; Critical Concepts in Economic Geography, Volumes 1-5 (With P. Sunley), In Press, 2007; Handbook of Evolutionary Economic Geography (with R, Boschma), In Press, 2007.

Geography and Public Policy

A common thread running through Ron’s research is a strong commitment to the social and policy relevance of economic-geographic research, and firm belief that, wherever possible, academic geography should have public policy relevance. His own work on labour markets (especially on the New Deal), on regional competitiveness, and on regional venture capital markets, embodies this ethos. A current interest is in the spatialities of income inequality and poverty. He also researches how national state policies impact at the local and regional level, and the subnational implications of the ongoing neoliberalisation of state policies.

Editing roles (recent and current)

  • Honorary Editor of Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 1998-2002
  • Co-Editor, Cambridge Journal of Economics, 1998 to date
  • Co-Editor, Regional Studies, 2002-2005
  • Associate Editor, Journal of Economic Geography, 2000 to 2016
  • Editorial Board Member, Géographie, Économie et Société, 1999 to date
  • Editorial Board Member, International Regional Science Review, 1999 to date
  • Editor, Regional Development and Public Policy, Book Series (Routledge), 2002 to date
  • Editor, Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, Oxford University Press, 2008 to date

Consultancy and advisory work

Ron regularly provides research advice and consultancy to Government Departments (e.g. BEIS). He is an advisor to the European commission on its programme on Regional Economic Resilience. He has ben involved with numerous research project fr the European commission including the Impact of Globalisation on the European regions, the Determinants of Regional Economic Growth, The Competitiveness of European Regions, and the Rethinking Policy for Europe’s Lagging Region. He has been involved in the preparation of evidence for the Core Cites Group and the Key Cities Group for submission to the Uk Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper (2017). He also provides economic-geographic advice and consultancy to a number of private sector consultancies, including Local Futures (London), Cambridge Econometrics (Cambridge), Trends Business Research (Newcastle); Segal Quince Wicksteed, London.

Research students

Ron has supervised numerous PhD students (both UK and overseas), and welcomes enquiries from prospective applicants interested in pursuing PhD research at Cambridge on topics related to his own research. Recent and current PhD topics include:

  • The Geographies of European Monetary Policy
  • The Role of the Old in New Economic Geography: The Survival and Significance of Mature Industrial Districts
  • The Local Geographies of Workfare: Lone Parent Jobless in Sheffield and Buffalo
  • Globalisation, Regulation and Geography: The Bahamas and Cayman Islands Offshore Financial Centres
  • Local Dimensions of the Impact of Workfare Schemes in British Cities
  • Information Technology and the Development Process: Caribbean Micro-States in the Global Economy
  • The Role of Financing Constraints in the Development of Italian Industrial Districts
  • The Dynamic Competitiveness of Industrial Clusters: The Footwear sector in Felgueiras, Portugal
  • The Geographies of Parallel Trade: The Case of Pharmaceuticals
  • The Competitive Advantages and Performance of Firms Inside and outside Industry Clusters.
  • The Economic Resilience of Cities and Regions


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