Ronald Wall

Head of Urban Competitiveness and Resilience, Economic Geographer and Urban Planner, IHS. Full Professor, School of Economics and Business Sciences, Faculty of Commerce Law and Management, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

Email address
+31 (0)10 4089715 

Prof. Dr. Ir. Ronald Wall (PhD. Economic Geography, Erasmus School of Economics, Erasmus University Rotterdam 2009; Urban Planning, Academy of Architecture and Urban Planning Rotterdam, 1998) specializes in regional and urban economic development and planning.

Ronald is the Head of the Urban Competitiveness and Resilience (UCR) department at the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS), Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR). UCR was initiated by Ronald in 2011 and has become very successful, with high student counts, top academic publications, international projects, and a four year track record of cum-laude students.

He holds the endowed Chair of Economic Development of the City of Johannesburg at the School of Economics and Business Sciences (SEBS), Faculty of Commerce Law and Management (CLM), at the University of the Witwatersrand (WITS), Johannesburg. The chair is financed by the Municipality of Johannesburg and endorsed by the Mayor’s office.

During the period of 1991 to 2001 he worked for urban planning offices like OMA (Rem Koolhaas), MVRDV (Winy Maas), West 8 (Adriaan Geuze) and the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment (VROM); working on planning in China, Ghana, South Africa, South Korea and various European countries. In this period he received a presidential letter of commendation from President Nelson Mandela for the project Housing Generator: Between Integration and Fragmentation, concerning South African township development and urban integration, and also received several international design awards.

Between 2001 and 2009 Ronald has been professor in urban planning at the Berlage Institute and taught at the Rotterdam and Amsterdam Academies of Architecture and Urban Planning. In 2006 and 2007 he carried out a four year contract research for The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (RIVM/MNP), concerning urban development and sustainable world city networks. In 2008 he worked for the South Korean government on the development of a new town “Saemangeum” in South Korea.

Ronald completed his doctorate in Economic Geography at the Erasmus School of Economics, Erasmus University Rotterdam in 2009. His doctoral thesis Netscape: Cities and Global Corporate Networks (2009) concerns empirical research on the economic flows taking place between cities worldwide and its impact of on their urban performance and development. 

Due to his dual career, he has published in both urban development journals (see cv), as well as more recently in leading economic geography journals e.g. Economic Geography, Journal of Economic Geography, Environment and Planning A, European Planning Studies and Applied Economics. In May this year his research for the OECD’s African Economic Outlook 2016 was published and is very well received globally. In 2016, he featured in the UN-Habitat Global Urban Lectures series, with an online presentation called Global Economic Competitor. 

Over the past three years Ronald initiated and is in the process of developing the new State of African Cities Report 2017 (UN-Habitat) called “The State of African Investment”, which explores the changing position of African cities within global networks of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). The presentation unveils regional and sectoral differences across the African continent; social, economic and environmental determinants of FDI; and the identification of four major FDI case cities: Cairo, Abidjan, Kigali and Johannesburg. The approach advocates the need to match urban competitiveness and network analysis methods, and aims at sustainable city investment. Ronald has helped finance this international project through the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the African Development Bank (AfDB).

Currently Ronald is Senior Research Fellow at the Turku School of Economics, Turku University, Finland. He is also currently Urban Research Director at the prestigious Moscow School of Economics and Strelka Institute in Moscow, concerning development economics and urbanism.

Ronald’s research concerns global and regional economic development, inter-city network analysis and urban planning studies. Current researched topics are happiness economics, urban economic competitiveness, foreign investment developments, smart cities, regional studies, food security and green economy.

His skills include econometrics, network analysis, geographic information system (GIS), strategic planning and urban design. His key interests are to integrate urban science, urban planning and urban design processes, with the aim of achieving resilient and sustainable cities. Ronald’s work emphasizes the importance of understanding cities across local, regional and global scales, and how network interactions between these scales affects the development of urban agglomerations, with the aim of achieving higher competitiveness and resilience.

Selected publications

Stavropoulos S, Wall R.S. & Xu Y (2017): Environmental Regulations and Industrial Competitiveness: Evidence from China, Applied Economics
Shi S., Wall R.S. and Pain K., 2017, The Conjunction of Networked Agglomerations and Location Factors in Chinese Cities. In The Global Urban Competitiveness Report 2017. Ed. Pengfei Ni, Marco Kamiya and Ruxi Ding. China Social Sciences Press and Springer.
Zhao Q., Hang X., Wall R. and Stavropoulos S., 2017, Building a bridge between port and city: Improving the urban competitiveness of port cities. Journal of Transport Geography, 59, pp. 120-133

Boersma, K., Wall, R., Dobbelsteen, A. van den and Timmeren, A. van, 2016. Leverage smart utility networks to benefit aerotropolisTVVL Magazine, 3 pp. 2-5

Linda Vlassenrood, Wall R. et al, 2016. Shenzhen: From Factory of the World to World City. Chapter: Shenzhen Centre for Life Science: From Workshop to Laboratory. International New Town Institute (INTI). 

Wall R. et al, 2016. How Sustainable Cities can contribute to Africa’s Development, in: OECD African Economic Outlook 2016. OECD Publishers. 

Wall R.S. and Stavropoulos S., 2016, Smart cities within world city networks. Applied Economics Letters, Routledge Taylor and Francis Group. pp. 1-5

Burger M.J., van Oort F.G., Wall R.S. & Thissen M. J.P.M., 2015, Revealed Competition between Cities in the Dutch Randstad, in: Klaesson J., Johansson B., Karlsson C. and Stough R.(eds), 2013, Metropolitan Regions: Preconditions and Strategies for Growth and Development in the Global Economy. Berlin: Springer.

Wall R.S. & Thissen M. J.P.M., 2015, Revealed Competition between Cities in the Dutch Randstad, in: Klaesson J., Johansson B., Karlsson C. and Stough R.(eds), 2013, Metropolitan Regions: Preconditions and Strategies for Growth and Development in the Global Economy. Berlin: Springer.

Wall R.S., 2015, RHINECON: Spatial Determinants of FDI into the Rhine Region. Introduction by Frank van Oort, Report Beyond Plan B, Fund for the Creative Industry, Rotterdam / Cologne.

Auzan, V. and Wall, R., 2014, [Moscow behind the facade of formality] (Chapter in Russian), In: Strelka education programme 2013/2014, Moscow, Strelka Institute for Media, pp. 10-17. 

Burger M. J., Knaap, B. van der and Wall R. S., 2014, Polycentricity and the Multiplexity of Urban NetworksEuropean Planning Studies, vol. 22 (4), pp. 816-840.

Tsui, T. and Wall, R. 2015. Trade patterns. In: H. C. v. Latesteijn and A. Oostra eds., 2015. Feeding tomorrow's cities. s.l.: Metropolitan Food Security (MFS). pp. 30-33.

Wall, R., 2014, [Raising Ufa’s rating: from industrial economic to a city of new possibilities] (Chapter in Russian), in: [Ufa look into the future] (Book in Russian) Ufa, Municipality of Ufa, pp. 92-103.

Wall, R. and Stavropoulos, S., 2014, Heritage and globalization. In: Corten J-P.; Geurts, E.; Meurs, P. and Vermeulen R. (eds.). Heritage as an asset for inner city development: an urban managers' guidebook, pp. 60-63.

Burger, M. J., Knaap, B. van der and Wall, R., 2013, Revealed competition for greenfield investments between European regions. Journal of Economic Geography, 13 (4), pp. 619-648.

Figueiredo, C.V., Wall, R.S., 2013, Sao Paulo Beyond Borders: A Geographical Analysis of Investment Flows from the Metropolis to the Latin American Cities Network. UERJ, Rio de Janeiro.

Wall R.S. and Burger M.J., 2013, The Struggle for Capital: Developing South-Holland within International Investment Networks. Province of South-Holland, Delta Hage Publishers.

Wall R.S. and Figueiredo C, 2013, Cities of BRICS, BRICS Policy Centre Report. OECD, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Wall R.S., 2013, The International Competitive Position of Metropolitan Region Amsterdam within Global FDI Networks. Amsterdam City Council.
Wall R S., 2012, Centrality, Hierarchy and Heterarchy of Worldwide Corporate Networks, in: International Handbook of Globalization and World Cities, Edward Elgar Publishers.
Wall. R.S., 2012, Managing Global Cities through Corporate Network Analysis, in: Spaces of International Economy and Management, ed. R. D. Schlunze, N. O. Agola and W.W. Baber, Palgrave Macmillan.

Wall, R. S. and Knaap, G. A. van der, 2011, Sectoral Differentiation and Network Structure Within Contemporary Worldwide Corporate NetworksEconomic Geography 87 (3), pp. 266-308.

Wall, R. S., Burger M. J. and Knaap, G. A. van der, 2011, The Geography of Global Corporate Networks: The Poor, the Rich and the Happy Few CountriesEnvironment and Planning A, 43 (4), pp. 904-927.

Wall, R. S., 2009, The relative importance of Randstad cities within comparative worldwide corporate networksTijdschrift voor economische en sociale geografie, 100 (2), pp. 250-259.

Wall R.S. (2010), “Southern African Cities,” in Global Urban Analysis ed. P.J. Taylor, P. Ni, B. Derudder, M. Hoyler, J. Huang and F. Witlox, Earthscan London / Washington.

Wall R.S. (2010), “Sub-Saharan Cities in Globalization,” in Global Urban Analysis ed. P.J. Taylor, P. Ni, B. Derudder, M. Hoyler, J. Huang and F. Witlox, Earthscan London / Washington.

Wall. R.S. (2009). “Corporate Networks and the Randstad Cities,” In Networks and Regional Analysis. ed. L. v.d. Laan and M. Versantvoort. Eburon.

Wall. R.S. (2009), “Netscape: Cities and Global Corporate Networks,” Erasmus Research Institute on Management (ERIM) Series in Management 169. Haveka.

Wall. R.S. and. v.d. Knaap. G.A. (2008), “Sustainability within a World City Network,” published in Chinese and Foreign Metropolitan Region Development. RCMRC. Jiao Tong University. Shanghai.

Wall. R.S. (2008), “Economic Report for the Development of a New Korean Town ‘Saemangeum’,” assignment of the National Government of South Korea.

Wall. R.S., Knaap. G.A. van der. (2008), “Glocal Footprint: Network Sustainability within Global, European and Dutch Urban Systems,” Report for the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (MNP), Bilthoven.

Wall. R.S., Knaap. G.A. van der. Sleegers. W. (2007), “Sustainability within a World City Network”. Report for the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (MNP). Bilthoven.
Wall. R. S. and Burger M.A. (2005), “Netprint Almere: Almere’s City Hierarchy and Urban Performance in a Global City Network,” Report for the municipality of Almere, The Netherlands.
Wall. R. S., (2001), “World Trade Centre Network,” The Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment (VROM), De Longte, Dordrecht.
Link to CV and full publications
The position of Amsterdam within international foreign direct investment networks from IHS Urban Development & Management on Vimeo.