PhD research focus in UCR

PhD research focus in Urban Competitiveness and Resilience


Economic growth, innovation, production and consumption thrive in cities. Firms, employers and employees profit from specialized economies of scale in labour market matching, subcontractors market sharing, as well as innovative learning from competitors, customers and research institutes. Cities offer urbanization economies: a diversity of lifestyles, accessibility to services, in addition to more inter-regional and international connections to other cities throughout the world. Yet, there are also multiple disadvantages linked to urbanization, such as pollution, congestion, inequality and segregation.

Overall research field

UCR investigates the economic development of urban areas using state-of-the-art theories, applied research skills and insights in effective policies. Competitiveness hereby aims to determine how cities grow and perform economically, at a regional and global level. The economic “triumph of the city”, however, does not apply equally to all groups in cities, and certain groups may face severe drawbacks, even in growing and competitive urban environments. As a consequence, economic resilience has become more prominent on research and policy agendas for the last decade. The latest global economic crisis, local crises related to economic structural change and severe negative external effects related to urbanization, all lead to intensified shocks to which local economies react differently across countries. Finally, regional economic policies, policy instruments and identification of impacts of policies are more important than ever and another important focus of this research cluster.

Possible topics

Our research interests include (but are not limited to):

  1. Which urban factors, urban policies and urban plans are required to make cities more competitive in the global economic network?
  2. How to develop more resilient urban economies, able to withstand shocks and disasters?
  3. Which (institutional) factors contribute to sustainable local economic development?
  4. How do informal economies work and relate to formal economies?
  5. How can urban economies evolve towards sustainable, innovative and equitable economies?
  6. What factors explain in urban inequality? How to mitigate them?