A parade of great research in the ‘Rio De Janeiro of the Northern Hemisphere’: Reflections from the Global Conference on Economic Geography 2018 in Cologne

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Last month, a team from City-REDI attended the 2018 Global Conference on Economic Geography. In this blog, Dr Tasos Kitsos provides a summary of the conference along with details of his current work. 

The 2018 Global Conference on Economic Geography took place in sunny and hot Cologne, the German Carnival capital, 24-28 July. The conference attracted a great collection of researchers (700-800) with Economic Geography at the core of their interests. I had the privilege of attending and presenting progress on my work with Dr Antonios Proestakis on the effects of political alignment between the local and national government on local government financing in Greece. Below are my reflections and highlights from the conference, followed by some links on work I have done on some of the topics.


I started the conference with presentations on entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial ecosystems, a topic I am very interested in and currently working on. These included the evaluation of housing market policies to the location decision to open a business. Following this came a plenary session on inequality and the political economy of solutions, with significant contributions from political science.

The second day was mainly focused on the special sessions I was part of around the financialisation of the state organised by the great Laura Deruytter, Sebastian Möller and Reijer Hendrikse. The first of the sessions was focused more on the theoretical development of the financialisation frameworks with contributions from Gustavo Guntren, Adam Dixon, Ewa Karwowski and Reijer Hendrikse. The second of the sessions focused more on the realities of local government financialisation with presentations by Andy Pike, Sebastian Möller, Laura Deruytter and Mikael Omstedt.

The day continued with presentations by Emmanouil Tranos on online social media and how it could present a resource for SME’s; Max Nathan on a systematic review of incubators and accelerators; Silvia Rocchetta and Ron Boschma’s work on economic resilience in the EU and the US respectively; as well as presentations on the uneven city evolutions and resilience by Melissa Haller, Sören Becker and Ben Gardiner. All of these relate to topics I (and others at City-REDI) am currently working on.

The big day

The third day was the day of my presentation but before that, I saw the great Chloe Billing (aka SpaceChloe) talking about the role of Heritage in the Space sector. This was followed by presentations on contemporary topics on Economic Geography and the third session of the financialisation of the state series with contributions by Daniel Sanfelici, Richard Waldron and Brett Christophers.

Dr Tasos Kitsos presents his work at the conference.

Next up was the session I was presenting in, being the male cacophony in an otherwise great female panel including Annalena Di Giovanni, Leigh Johnson and Nina Haerter. As already mentioned, I have presented our paper “Local government financing during the electoral business cycle: analysing the role of intergovernmental political alignment on municipality budgets in Greece” with Antonios Proestakis which examines how electoral politics affects the allocation of funding from the national to the local government in Greece. There is now a working paper available to those interested and will be online soon, so watch this space!

During the last day, I followed work on the role of finance in uneven economic development and the great City-REDI work on Business and Professional Services and their changing business models, presented by Rebecca Riley. The day and the conference closed with a panel session on uneven city economic evolutions featuring Andy Pike, Jamie Peck, Yuko Aoyama, David Rigby and Andrés Rodríguez-Pose.


Overall, I have had a great time with a lot of good humour from audience and presenters alike. More importantly, I learnt a great deal at the conference and gained perspectives that will inform my research. Finally, a word for Cologne, which despite being so hot, may be the coolest city in Germany (see what I did there?).

Further reading

See below my most recent works on some of the topics mentioned above.

Economic resilience in GB local authority districts

Fiscal devolution in UK 1

Fiscal devolution in UK 2

Fiscal devolution in UK 3

Fiscal devolution in UK 4

This blog was written by Dr Tasos Kitsos, Research Fellow, City-REDI, University of Birmingham

The views expressed in this analysis post are those of the authors and not necessarily those of City-REDI or the University of Birmingham

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