Urban Innovation: Analysis and Policy

Below is a sample list of electives focused on Innovation: Analysis and Policy. Students must complete 4.0 full-course equivalent (FCE) electives. 

Electives are subject to change and are dependent on the approval of the home department.

MUI 2010H Sectoral Analysis
Industries, sectors, and clusters are a major component of regional and urban economic analysis as well as a key element of economic development strategies. For example, one need only examine the reports from public and private agencies or review the flow of request for proposals by public agencies and non-profit organizations that ask for, or include, sectoral analyses and policy strategies designed to target particular industries. Not coincidentally, much of urban and regional research that seeks to account for the strengths and dynamics of regions brings to bear theories about industrial development, sectoral dynamics, and the roles of particular industries. This course will provide a foundation for students in the methodological skills as well as substantive issues that may become a basis for economic development or industrial planning, and for project implementation. The seminar has objectives that are methodological, substantive, and theoretical: 1) to introduce and apply the various methods and procedures of sectoral investigation as applied to regions, industries, companies, and their labor forces; and 2) to investigate the characteristics and trends of particular industry sub-sectors in the specific case of the GTHA, resulting in an industry profile that can serve as an aid to planning and shaping the economic development of communities and the region.

MUI 2020H Microeconomics of Competitiveness (Harvard Business School – Institute for CS Strategy & Competitiveness course)
Developed by Professor Michael Porter and the staff and affiliates of the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness at Harvard Business School, this Microeconomics of Competitiveness (MOC) course on competition and economic development addresses the subject from a bottom-up, microeconomic perspective. While sound macroeconomic factors affect the potential for competitiveness, wealth is actually created at the microeconomic level. The MOC course focuses on the sources of national or regional productivity, which are rooted in the strategies and operating practices of locally based firms, the vitality of clusters, and the quality of the business environment in which competition takes place.

MUI 2030H Planning for Jobs: Labour Market Transformations and Employment in 21st Century Cities
The course will start with an overview of recent writings that look at transformative forces related to international trade, corporate restructuring, new skill demands and the implications for labour market performance. It examines how these forces are experienced differently across industries and across socio-economic groups, as well as some of the institutional factors that help to explain widening wage and income disparities in Canada and the U.S. The second half of the course focuses on some of the policy and planning implications of these transformative forces and specifically the role that local practitioners and policy makers can play in addressing sources of socio-economic disparity. Four areas of policy will be considered, including: efforts to link competitiveness-enhancing retraining and industrial/sectoral upgrading initiatives; the creation of innovative new partnerships between employers and labor market intermediaries, such as staffing agencies, labor unions and non-profits; strategies that connect smart-growth and social equity goals; and finally, new forms of labor and community organizing designed to improve workplace justice (e.g., community benefits and living wage movements).

POL 2394HH Innovation and Knowledge Flows in City-Regions
This course surveys two of the key themes related to the process of innovation in a knowledge based economy: the process by which new knowledge is generated and effectively transferred to those organizations with the potential to commercialize it; and secondly, the paradoxical relationship between knowledge creation and proximity in a modern global economy. Increasingly the global economy is seen as a knowledge-based one, hence the critical importance of understanding how new knowledge is generated and deployed in the form of new products and processes. At the same time, the more global the economy becomes, the greater the value of proximity, hence the fascination with how to foster the growth of new regional concentrations of knowledge and innovation, such as Silicon Valley. This course surveys the state of current knowledge about both these processes and explores the implications of this understanding for public policies designed to stimulate knowledge transfer and promote the growth of dynamic and innovative city-regions.

GLA 2018H Innovation and the City
This is a course about innovative cities. After briefly discussing why innovative activity concentrates in cities and the diverse forms it assumes, we debate how municipalities can promote growth. In doing so, it not only reviews the literature on innovation policy, but also covers new approaches to urban governance. The course concludes by applying insights to Toronto, debating national policy implications and discussing cities in the developing world.

MUI 2050H The Economics of Cities and Regions: Productivity, Technology and Jobs
Despite all the talk about the “death of distance”, geography matters more than ever. Regional differences within many countries have increased in the past decades, and where a person lives today has a very large impact on many aspects of his or her life. This course is a journey through the current economic landscape. We will explore places that are growing and places that are declining. For instance, we will discover why the labor market in New York and Boston has been so much better than the one in Detroit and Cleveland in the past 35 years. The course will investigate the industrial districts of Italy and study how knowledge diffuses among firms located near each other, and the implications for local productivity and innovation. We will study how British and Canadian local labor markets are affected by the fact that certain industries and occupations are dying. We will travel to Africa and discuss the extent to which investment from Asia serves to catalyze economic development in Ethiopia’s regional economies. In doing so, we will try to understand the economic forces driving trends in wages, productivity and innovation across cities and regions. These are the forces that will define the geography of future jobs and will shape the economic destiny of local communities around the world.

JPG 1607H Geography of Competition
In a market economy, how do firms come to be at the places where they produce, distribute, or sell their goods or services? How, when, and why does competition among firms as well as the impact of firm sitting on the sitting of their suppliers and customers, lead to localization (clustering) of firms in geographic space, the growth of some places (e.g., some cities or districts), and the decline of others? Such questions are central to an area of scholarship known as competitive location theory. A spatial (regional) economy incorporates “shipping costs” which include costs related to search, freight, insurance and brokerage, storage, installation and removal, warranty and service, and arbitrage profit. As a result, the effective or delivered price of a firm’s products or inputs, inclusive of shipping costs, may well vary locally. This course focuses on how, as a result of competition, location and clustering shape and are shaped by local prices.

RSM 2132H Prosperity and Competitiveness
Regional development is undergoing a revolution. It used to be thought that for regions and nations to grow all that was required was to influence business location decisions. Communities that attracted businesses grew and those that did not, declined. The state of the art was to try and lure companies with tax or other business incentives. Those days are over. Today we know that in order to grow, communities and regions need to do much more. This course will provide students with a background in traditional economic development thinking and delve into both theory and practice in understanding economic development in today’s “supply-side” Creative Economy. The course will rely on a combination of lecture, discussion, group exercises, simulations, and lab sessions. The course is structured around technology (including traditional economic development) issues, the importance of regional talent, the role of tolerance and diversity, and authentic regional amenities and territory assets. Students will demonstrate understanding and proficiency of the topics presented by completing an in-depth analysis and developing recommendations for a selected community and through a final examination.