PhD defence of Luís Carvalho on Thursday 24 January 2013

On Thursday 24 January 2013 Luís Carvalho will defend his PhD thesis entitled 'Knowledge Locations in Cities: Emergence and Development Dynamics'. Supervisor is Professor Leo van den Berg. Other members of the Doctoral Committee are Professor Jan van den Borg, Professor Meine Pieter van Dijk, and Professor Bert van der Knaap.

Time and location

The PhD defence will take place in the Senate Hall of Erasmus University Rotterdam and will start at 13.30 hrs.

About the dissertation

City Administrations throughout the world are investing in the development of knowledge locations such as science parks, creative districts and other types of "hubs". Knowledge locations are now part and parcel of the urban landscape in many cities around the world, and increasingly so. In Europe and the United States, old vacant buildings and land plots are being redeveloped with a new knowledge-related function in mind; in Asia, entire new districts are being built from scratch to accommodate the fast growth of knowledge-intensive industries.

Some of these places host powerful business and innovation ecosystems, adding value to their urban and regional economies. However, others remain closer to "firm’s hotels" or "high-tech fantasies". Why is that the case, and which factors are associated with growth and agglomeration? How important is being specialised in a business field or knowledge theme? Does it matter for innovators to be located in a vibrant urban area? And how important is the management function in such places? Those are important questions for decision-makers involved in the planning of knowledge locations in cities.

In his PhD dissertation entitled Knowledge Locations in Cities: Emergence and Development Dynamics, Luís Carvalho studies the development of knowledge locations. He suggests that the urban context (types of sectors, institutions, policy-making routines) in which knowledge locations emerge largely explain their designs and moderate – but not determine – their growth and agglomeration potential. Agglomeration is associated with three factors that decision-makers can in general influence: the thematic specialisation of the location; the quality of the urban-spatial integration and; the entrepreneurial features of its management team. Those factors are relevant to the extent to which they contribute to the formation of "images" about the location, but also, importantly, to the creation of new networks and communities of innovators in place.

About Luís Carvalho

Luís Carvalho was born and raised in Porto, Portugal. In 2002 he completed his undergraduate education with a Licenciatura (5-year degree) in Economics at the University of Porto. His main study interests have long been in the fields of economic development, growth and change, urban and regional economics and policy. After concluding his degree, Luís worked for the Studies and Planning Unit at the Municipality of Porto. Later on and until 2007, he joined Quaternaire Portugal as a consultant on strategic planning for cities and regions and policy evaluation studies (namely EU cohesion policy and structural funding). During 2004-2005, Luís moved to Rotterdam and completed a master´s degree in Urban Management at the Erasmus University Rotterdam (cum laude). He started his doctoral studies at the same University in September 2007.

Luis is currently at RHV b.v. – Urban, Port and Transport Economics – a research and education company at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Since 2007 he is also associated with the EURICUR (European Institute for Comparative Urban Research). His main research interests are in the fields of urban-regional development strategies, territorial economy and the geography of knowledge and innovation.

Luis regularly lectures and coordinates educational modules in his fields of expertise. During the last years, he has been involved in various international studies in European, Latin American and Asian cities, on topics such as "the role of manufacturing in the new urban economy", "regional trajectories to the knowledge economy”, “creating knowledge locations in cities”, and “anchoring temporary events in the urban economy". Among others, his research was internationally published in two books of the Routledge Series "Cities and Regions" and in journals such as European Planning Studies and Regional Studies.

Abstract of Knowledge Locations in Cities: Emergence and Development Dynamics

This thesis studies the development of knowledge locations: area-based initiatives aimed at agglomerating knowledge-intensive activities in a designated area or city district (e.g. technology parks, creative "factories"). It relates the reinvigorated interest (and qualitative change) in knowledge locations with a number of societal evolutions, and develops a theoretical framework to explain their emergence and development. This framework contributes to better ground the study of knowledge locations within the spatial-economic context and dynamics of its host cities and regions.

This study also explores the relation between a knowledge location´s features – Specialisation, Urban-spatial integration and Management – and their agglomeration outcomes. It shows that there are multiple pathways to growth and agglomeration: no single factor has to be always present to explain it at a certain moment in time. Moreover, the three factors proved relevant but in different ways, and namely to the extent that they contribute to image formation (associated with the identification of a concept) and ecosystem formation (associated with exchange and learning among tenants). Those processes provide two different paths to agglomeration. Their interaction influences the development of a knowledge location over time and, ultimately, the relation between the location and change in its spatial-economic context. The abovementioned phenomena are explored with the support of four European case studies of "themed" knowledge locations, focusing on audio-visual, biotechnology, design and digital media, respectively.

More information

Carvalho’s PhD research project is published within the ERIM PhD series and will be defended within the Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM). ERIM is the joint research institute of Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) and Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam.

For more information about this ceremony, please contact Ronald de Groot, Communication Officer of the Erasmus School of Economics phone +31 10 408 1762 or by e-mail:

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