Research Focus Publications SPACES GIRD Vitae

Harald Bathelt

My Profile

I am Professor in the University of Toronto’s Department of Geography and Planning. My research and teaching interests are in the areas of industrial and economic geography, political economy and methodology. Specific areas which provide the focus of my research and teaching activities include the analysis of long-term social and economic development, industrial clustering and the socio-economic impacts of regional, industrial and institutional change.

A relational approach of economic geography, which emphasizes economic and social processes in spatial perspective (using a ‘geographical lens’), provides the analytical framework for my research. This rests on three basic propositions. First, economic actors are situated in contexts of social and institutional relations. Second, economic processes are path-dependent to the extent that future action is dependent on past decisions. Third, economic processes are at the same time contingent in that agents make choices which may deviate from existing development paths.

The relational approach has distinct consequences for the way in which economic, social and political processes are analyzed. In particular, it calls for a micro perspective to understand economic structures and processes, focusing on those individual and collective agents involved in the governance of economic action. There are three levels of governance which I consider in my work, i.e. (i) the governance of economic organization and innovation at the level of the individual firm or organization, (ii) the governance of inter-organizational interaction in projects, networks and clusters, and (iii) the territorial governance of industrial systems and “global” value chains in local, regional, national and international contexts.

Research focus

In the 1970s and 1980s, the industrial core countries in Western Europe and North America entered a stage of drastic economic and societal change and crisis. The concomitant industrial and institutional change and its determinant factors and spatial implications are a particular focus of my research. The relationships between societal change and technological innovation, the division of labor and spatial organization patterns in production are of fundamental interest and provide the basis for the design of my empirical research. Research questions I address increasingly reflect the development of a triadic world market structure in that similar research designs are applied to different national institutional systems in North America, Western Europe and East/ Southeast Asia.

In my academic work, I have been interested in concepts, such as clusters, innovation systems, varieties of capitalism, regulation theory, and the like. Thus far, I have conducted extensive empirical research on firms in high technology industries (such as computers and electronic components), the media sector and other high growth industries (such as chemicals) in North America, China and Germany.

Recent publications include:

BATHELT, H./ BUCHHOLZ, M./ CANTWELL, J. (2022): OFDI Activity and Urban-Regional Development Cycles: A Co-Evolutionary Perspective. In: Competitiveness Review (Vol. 32) Forthcoming (doi: 10.1108/CR-03-2022-0037; URI:
BATHELT, H./ LI, P. (2022): The Interplay Between Location and Strategy in a Turbulent Age. In: Global Strategy Journal (Vol. 12). Forthcoming (doi: 10.1002/gsj.1432; URI:
YANG, R./ BATHELT, H. (2022): China’s Outward Investment Activity: Ambiguous Findings in the Literature and Empirical Trends in Greenfield Investments. In: Growth and Change (Vol. 53) pp. 313-341 (doi:10.1111/grow.12586; URL:; URI:
BATHELT, H./ HENN, S. (2021): Knowledge Exchange, Trust, and the Secretive Geographies of Mergers and Acquisitions. In: Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space (Vol. 53) pp. 1435-1453 (doi: 10.1177/0308518X211013360; Open Access (URL:
BUCHHOLZ, M./ BATHELT, H. (2021): Models of Regional Economic Development: Illustrations using U.S. Data. In: ZFW–Advances in Economic Geography (Vol. 65) pp. 28-42 (doi: 10.1515/zfw-2020-0040; URL:; URI:
BATHELT, H./ BUCHHOLZ, M. (2020): Correction – Outward Foreign-Direct Investments as a Catalyst of Urban-Regional Income Development? Evidence from the United States. In: Economic Geography (Vol. 96) pp.193-194 (doi: 10.1080/00130095.2019.1707425; URI:
LI, P./ BATHELT, H. (2021): Spatial Knowledge Strategies: An Analysis of International Investments Using Fuzzy Set Qualitative Comparative Analysis (fsQCA). In: Economic Geography (Vol. 97) pp. 366-389 (doi: 10.1080/00130095.2021.1941858; URI:
BATHELT, H./ LI, P. (2020): Processes of Building Cross-Border Knowledge Pipelines. In: Research Policy (Vol. 49) # 103928 (doi: 10.1016/j.respol.2020.103928).
BATHELT, H./ LI, P. (2020): Building Better Methods in Economic Geography. In: Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftsgeographie (Vol. 64) pp. 103-108 (doi: 10.1515/zfw-2020-0014; URL:; URI:
BATHELT, H./ ZHAO, J. (2020): Identifying Configurations of Multiple Co-Located Clusters by Analyzing Within- and Between-Cluster Linkages. In: Growth and Change (Vol. 51) pp. 309-337 (doi: 10.1111/grow.12357; URI:
BUCHHOLZ, M./ BATHELT, H./ CANTWELL, J. A. (2020): Income Divergence and Global Connectivity of U.S. Urban Regions. In: Journal of International Business Policy (Vol. 3) pp. 229-248 (doi: 10.1057/s42214-020-00057-7; URI:
LI, P./ BATHELT, H. (2020): Headquarters-Subsidiary Knowledge Strategies at the Cluster Level. In: Global Strategy Journal (Vol. 10) pp. 585-618 (doi: 10.1002/gsj.1356; URI:
ZHU, Y.-W./ BATHELT, H./ ZENG, G. (2020): Learning in Context: A Structural Equation Modeling Approach to Analyze Knowledge Acquisition at Trade Fairs. In: Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftsgeographie Special Issue (Vol. 64) pp.165-179 (doi: 10.1515/zfw-2020-0006; URL:; URI:
ZHU, Y.-W./ BATHELT, H./ ZENG, G. (2020): Are Trade Fairs Relevant for Local Innovation Knowledge Networks? Evidence from Shanghai Equipment Manufacturing. In: Regional Studies (Vol. 54) pp. 1250-1261 (doi: 10.1080/00343404.2019.1695046; URI:
BATHELT, H./ BUCHHOLZ, M. (2019): Outward Foreign-Direct Investments as a Catalyst of Urban-Regional Income Development? Evidence from the United States. In: Economic Geography (Vol. 95) pp. 442-466 (doi: 10.1080/00130095.2019.1665465; URI:
SPIGEL, B./ BATHELT, H. (2019): Questioning Cultural Narratives of Economic Development—An Investigation of Kitchener-Waterloo. In: Canadian Geographer (Vol. 63) pp. 267-283 (doi: 10.1111/cag.12512; URI:
BATHELT, H./ CANTWELL, J./ MUDAMBI, R. (2018): Overcoming Frictions in Trans-National Knowledge Flows: Challenges of Connecting, Sense-Making and Integrating. In: Journal of Economic Geography (Vol. 18) pp. 1001-1022 (doi: 10.1093/jeg/lby047; URL:; URI:
BATHELT, H./ CONSERVA, N. (2018): Globalization and Institutional Change in Italian Industrial Districts. In: Knowledge and Space – Vol. 13: Knowledge and Institutions (Eds.: GLÜCKLER, J./ LENZ, R./ SUDDABY, R.), pp. 247-269. Springer Open: Cham (Open Access:
HENN, S./ BATHELT, H. (2018): Cross-Cluster Knowledge Fertilization, Cluster Emergence and the Generation of Buzz. In: Industrial and Corporate Change (Vol. 27) pp. 449-466 (doi: 10.1093/icc/dtx036; URI:
LI, P./ BATHELT, H. (2018): Location Strategy in Cluster Networks. In: Journal of International Business Studies (Vol. 49) pp. 967-989 (doi: 10.1057/s41267-017-0088-6; URI:
BATHELT, H./ COHENDET, P./ HENN, S./ SIMON, L. (Eds.) (2017): The Elgar Companion to Innovation and Knowledge Creation. Edward Elgar: Cheltenham, Northampton (MA).
BATHELT, H./ COHENDET, P./ HENN, S./ SIMON, L. (2017): Innovation and Knowledge Creation: Challenges to the Field (Eds.: BATHELT, H./ COHENDET, P./ HENN, S./ SIMON, L), pp. 1-25. Edward Elgar: Cheltenham, Northampton (MA) (doi: 10.4337/9781782548522; URI:
BATHELT, H./ COE, N. M./ KERR, W. R./ ROBERT-NICOUD, F. (2017): Editorial: Economic Geography IMPULSES. In: Journal of Economic Geography (Vol. 17) pp. 927-933 (doi: 10.1093/jeg/lbx028; URI:
BATHELT, H./ LI, P./ ZHU, Y.-W. (2017): Geographies of Temporary Markets: An Anatomy of the Canton Fair. In: European Planning Studies (Vol. 25) pp. 1497-1515 (doi: 10.1080/09654313.2017.1327034; URI:
LI, P./ BATHELT, H. (2017): From Temporary Market to Temporary Cluster: Evolution of the Canton Fair. In: Area Development and Policy (Vol. 2) pp. 154-172 (doi: 10.1080/23792949.2017.1281085; URI:
RINALLO, D./ BATHELT, H./ GOLFETTO, F. (2017): Economic Geography and Industrial Marketing Views on Trade Shows: Collective Marketing and Knowledge Circulation. In: Industrial Marketing Management (Vol. 61) pp. 93-103 (doi: 10.1016/j.indmarman.2016.06.012; URI:
BATHELT, H./ ZHAO, J. (2016): Conceptualizing Multiple Clusters in Mega-City Regions: The Case of the Biomedical Industry in Beijing. In: Geoforum (Vol. 75) pp. 186-198 (doi: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2016.07.016; URI:

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