Urban Economics and Governance

The Urban Economics and Governance Department focuses on how cities and urban areas develop economically and how governance processes shape urban development.

The urban economy is triggered by technological innovation, changes in resource availability and in the political landscape; these, in turn, bring about structural change in the economy. Changes can have severe consequences for industries and jobs and further affect equality. They equally present opportunities for new business creation, development of innovation clusters, and learning. Against this background, the department looks at how cities and city regions can become resilient to shocks and manage economic transitions to achieve sustainable development. The focus is on entrepreneurship and labour markets, the role of innovation, and the embedding of cities in global value chains. The department also explores the role of land markets in the urban economy, with special regard to spatial planning and land use, land development processes and real estate development.

Governance, the second theme of this department, focuses on the complex interactions of urban stakeholders in cities and the processes by which decisions are made within a specific social and economic context. This focus is central to understanding how to improve the policies, networks, and managerial and administrative structures in place to guide cities. The study of multi-level governance creates insights into micro-, meso- and macro-level policies, their impact on competitiveness or collaboration between cities, and urban resilience. Specific topics covered by the department include urban policies, network governance and complex decision-making, public-private partnerships, land governance, land rights and the rule of law, and learning networks. Finally, the department also studies urban-rural disparities to understand spatial interdependencies.

Questions within this department include: How can cities foster their local economies? How do different shocks affect urban economies and societies, and what can city regions do to mitigate these? How can the windfall from the land and real estate market be captured and redistributed? How can land-based finance be used to strengthen inclusive economic development? How do governance processes shape urban areas? What can be done to stimulate and improve multi-actor decision-making processes in complex environments? How can cities improve their governance to support sustainable (economic) development and become more agile? Which (urban governance and economic) factors and processes explain inclusiveness and equality within and between cities?

Meet the Urban Economics & Governance Department

Dr. Paula Nagler | Head of Urban Economics & Governance

Paula has approximately ten years of experience with public policy analysis, impact evaluation and micro-data analysis in a developing context and has worked extensively with household surveys and administrative databases.

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Dr. Beatriz Calzada Olvera | Specialist in Economics & Innovation

Beatriz’s research explores topics related to natural resources, innovation, global value chains, trade, and structural transformation. Her academic interests include complexity and economic geography.

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Dr. Carley Pennink | Lead Specialist in Governance, PPPs and Capacity Building

Thematically, Dr Pennink trains and provides advice on public-private partnerships in infrastructure provision and the privatization of municipal services, quality and performance in local government, institutional development and organizational change.

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Dr. Jan Fransen | Lead Specialist in Urban Economic Development & Resilience

Dr Fransen has a rich experience in the field of local economic development and resilience, focusing on urban resilience, community-based organisations, small firm development, innovation systems, global value chains and institutional economics.

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Dr. Leon van den Dool | Lead Specialist in Urban Governance

Leon is group mentoring the management of various cities in the Netherlands, advising on city strategies, doing evaluations for city councils and advising on mergers and amalgamations in the public sector.

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Dr Sofia Pagliarin

Sofia Pagliarin holds a PhD in urban studies and spatial planning and development. Her doctoral thesis focused on land-use patterns, multi-level governance and spatial planning factors related to land consumption and urban sprawl in the metropolitan areas of Barcelona (Spain) and Milan (Italy). 

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Photo of Vera Safronova
Maarten Zeehandelaar

Vera Safronova

Vera Safronova is working as an Academic Assistant within the Urban Economics and Governance department at IHS. She is involved in advisory and research activities related to urban policymaking, digitalization and innovation, as well as in education-related activities in various courses.

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Photo by Bing Hui Yau on Unsplash

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