Distinguished Professor of Regional and International Development in Urban Planning and Director, Global Public Affairs at UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs
Department: Urban Planning
5288 Public Affairs Bldg
Los Angeles, CA 90095
Campus mailcode: 165606
I am an economic geographer and my research is about the geography of economic development. The world economy entered a new period around 1980, characterized by the main forces of technological change and globalization. In this New Economy (now growing old), many patterns of economic development changed: the economy became more urban; people began returning to the inner parts of metropolitan areas; regional inequality increased in most countries; some regions gained in income and employment, others lost people or had declines in their economic success; inequalities between persons increased in many countries; successful people migrated to certain regions and left others; a major wave of globalization occurred, increasing the economic specialization of city-regions all over the world; this made some regions very multi-cultural, but not all; some city-regions were successful in this new economy, and others declined; development spread around the globe.
The economics of these inter-related changes are my main subject. In my different research projects, I address aspects of this big picture.
In one major recent project, I examined why cities and metropolitan regions grow and decline. My latest big project on this subject was published in 2015 in a book entitled The Rise and Fall of Urban Economies: Lessons from San Francisco and Los Angeles (Stanford University Press). I also published a closely-related theory book on how to understand divergent regional and urban development: Keys to the City (Princeton University Press, 2013).
New technologies have altered the nature of employment and its geography radically in the past few decades: what kind of work we do, who does it, where it is done. This is a principal reason for the changing geography of economic well-being. There are winner and loser people and regions in this ongoing tumultuous change in our economies. The next wave of technological change will most likely be even more tumultuous, and it will reshuffle the cards of economic development once again.
The changes I have examined are now giving rise to very strong political reactions, in debates over trade and employment. Much of this comes from the strong geographical differences in development I have studied over the years, with certain regions picking a return to national border and a rejection of globalization and multiculturalism, and others endorsing its continuation. The split in development between successful and unsuccessful places makes it more urgent than ever to understand what can be done to spread prosperity to more places and more groups of people, and yet to continue the success of the places that are doing well. This is a thorny problem for research and policy. My research in the next few years will concentrate on the sources of unequal regional development and to understanding the politics and policy debates it generates.
Beyond his core disciplinary skills in economic geography, his work on occasion draws on, and has links to, economics, sociology. and urban studies. Storper holds concurrent appointments in Europe, where he is Professor of Economic Sociology at the Institute of Political Studies ("Sciences Po") in Paris, and a member of its research Center for the Sociology of Organizations (CS0), and at the London School of Economics, where he is Professor of Economic Geography.
Michael is currently completing a five-year research project on the divergent economic development of the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay Area economies since 1970, which is the subject of his next book.
Michael received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands in 2008. He was elected to the British Academy in 2012, and also received the Regional Studies Assocation's award for overall archievement, the Sir Peter Hall Award, in the House of Commons in 2012.
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.
Profile on UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs