BIG CITY, BIG IDEAS: The Rise and Decline of Urban Economies: Los Angeles and San Francisco since 1970

Speaker: Michael Storper, Professor of Regional and International Development and Director of Global Public Affairs, Luskin School of Public Affairs, UCLA

This event is organized by Innovation Policy Lab and co-sponsored by the “Big City, Big Ideas” group of partners: Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance, Munk School of Global Affairs; Martin Prosperity Institute; Global Cities Institute; School of Public Policy and Governance; Department of Geography and Program in Planning; and, Urban Strategies.

In 1970, the metropolitan areas of Los Angeles and San Francisco had almost identical levels of income per resident. In 2010, the San Francisco Bay Area was almost one-third richer than Los Angeles, which had slipped from 4th rank among cities in the USA to 25th. The usual reasons for explaining such change – good or bad luck; different types of immigrants; tax rates, housing costs, and local economic policies; the pool of skilled labor — do not account for why they perform so differently. Instead, the divergence in economic development of major city regions is largely due to the different capacities for organizational change in their firms, networks of people, and networks of leaders. This in-depth study draws on economics, sociology, political science and geography to shed new light on the deep causes of economic development and challenges many conventional notions about development in general and urban regions around the world.

Michael Storper is Professor of Regional and International Development and Director of Global Public Affairs at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs. He holds concurrent appointments in Europe, where he is Professor of Economic Sociology at the Institute of Political Studies (“Sciences Po”) in Paris and a member of its research Center for the Sociology of Organizations, and at the London School of Economics, where he is Professor of Economic Geography. Storper received his PhD in Economic Geography at the University of California at Berkeley. His research concentrates on regional economic development and policy, including such themes as globalization, technological change and global economic development, regional economies, and urban-metropolitan development. He is currently completing a five-year research project on the divergent economic development of the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay Area economies since 1970, which is the subject of his next book, forthcoming from Stanford University Press in September 2015. He is an internationally recognized scholar and author, particularly well known for his books which include The Capitalist Imperative: Territory, Technology and Industrial Growth (with R. Walker; Blackwell, 1989), Pathways to Industrialization and Regional Development (with A. Scott; Routledge, 1992), Worlds of Production: The Action Frameworks of the Economy (with Robert Salais, Harvard Univ. Press, 1997), The Regional World: Territorial Development in a Global Economy (Guildford Press, 1997), and Latecomers in the Global Economy (editor with L. Tsipouri and S. Thmodakis; Routledge, 1998), Keys to the City: How Economics, Institutions, Social Interaction, and Politics Shape Development (Princeton University Press, 2013.  Storper received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands in 2008. He was elected to the British Academy in 2012, and also received the Regional Studies Association’s award for overall achievement, the Sir Peter Hall Award, in the House of Commons in 2012.  In 2014 he was named one of the “World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds” by Thomson Reuters.