Professor Michael Taylor

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Professor of Human Geography

Contact details

Address
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston
Birmingham
B15 2TT
UK

Qualifications

BSc Geography (University College London)

PhD Geography (University College London)

Biography

Mike Taylor gained BSc and PhD degrees in Geography from University College London and took up an academic appointment in the Department of Geography at the University of Auckland, NZ, in 1971. In 1979, he moved to the Department of Human Geography in the Research School of Pacific Studies at the Australian National University in Canberra, extending his research on TNCs, enterprise and local development into the developing country contexts of the Pacific Islands and Malaysia. In 1986, he moved into Australia’s Commonwealth Public Service, initially in the regional development field, but latterly as an Assistant Secretary directing land transport research in the Commonwealth Bureau of Transport and Communications Economics. In 1989, he was appointed to the Chair in Geography at the University of Western Australia, in Perth, where he was also Head of Department. In 1994, he moved back to the UK to take up a Chair in Geography at the University of Portsmouth, where he was Head of Department from 1994 to 1997. In August 2001, he was appointed to a Chair in Human Geography at the University of Birmingham.

He is currently a member of the IGU Commission on the Dynamics of Economic Spaces, a member of the Board of the Mercia Institute of Enterprise, and Director of Human Geography in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Research

Research Cluster / Group Affiliation

Society, Economy and Environment

Current / Recent Research

My research is focused on the theme of 'business enterprise and local development', with the goal to better understand the constraints on local growth imposed by processes of global change. Within this theme there are three inter-related strands:

1. Conceptualising the firm in Economic Geography

The aims of this strand of research are:

  • to develop a critique of the rapidly evolving conceptualisation of the firm in economic geography
  • to elaborate an alternative conceptualisation of the firm as a networked temporary coalition

As interpretations of economic globalisation are refined, so the role of socio-economics has been reinforced in developing an understanding of the positioning of places in a global mosaic of regions. Understanding and theorising the firm is central to this project, just as it is in microeconomics. But, the firm is an ambiguous and contested category in economic geography: much used, seldom defined and often obfuscated in empirical analyses. Too often it is a 'given': not the starting point of an analysis, just a shadowy presence in the background with no more than the vague form of being 'a transnational', an 'SME', a branch plant and the like. And then, undefined, unrefined and opaque, it is used either as a framework for the collection of empirical in formation or as an essential building block for the construction of grand theories of regional economic growth.

The research I am pursuing in this area centres on disentangling processes of enterprise - of people being enterprising and engaging in commercial activities for wealth creation - from the enterprise as a disconnected, legally defined object. The empirical aspect of the work draws on interviews with business owners and managers in the South Hampshire area and the West Midlands and the construction of business histories from published sources.

2. Enterprise Embeddedness and Unequal Power Relations

As globalisation deepens, a major question concerns how places will be incorporated into the emerging global economic system. Current thinking envisages success at the local level being built through clustering, which will create the productivity advantages capable of keeping places internationally competitive. A powerful institutionalist model of local economic growth has developed. Within this model, trust, reciprocity, forbearance and loyalty are identified as the principal mechanisms that create economic growth in localities confronted by the pressures globalisation. At the heart of the model are complex processes of embedding that describe the intertwining of firms economic relationships with the broader social structures and social relationships of a place. Key research questions in this area concern the reality of this model and whether it:

  • adequately incorporates issues of unequal power relationships between firms and;
  • is applicable beyond the selected developed county contexts within which it has been elaborated

The empirical foundation of this research draws on information from the UK and the South Pacific.

3. Assessing the Empirical Validity of Local Development Theories

This research is undertaken collaboratively with Dr Paul Plummer of the University of Bristol.

Contemporary approaches to understanding the mechanisms determining local economic growth tend to be characterised by a dualism between hard quantitative and mathematical models derived from economics and the soft qualitative models of geographical theory. My research in this area is trying to develop an alternative way of knowing that is based on a theoretically informed econometric analysis of the soft processes that are hypothesised as driving local economic growth. The aim is to translate theoretical concepts into measurable dimensions, and then into surrogate variables, with the aim of testing the validity of soft geographical theories. Enormous problems confront this work. Not least, whether the theories are translatable into testable hypotheses and how concepts like 'institutional thickness', 'social capitaland learning can be operationalised.

This research makes use of substantial database of Australian regional statistics built over the last 15 years.

Publications

Key Publications since 2002

Books

C. Tamasy and M. Taylor (eds) (2008), Globalising Worlds: Geographical Perspectives on New Economic Configurations, Ashgate, Aldershot.

M. Taylor and P. Oinas (eds), (2006), Understanding the Firm: Spatial and Organizational Dimensions, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

M. Taylor, and S. Leonard (eds) (2002), Social Capital and the Embedded Enterprise: International Comparisons, Ashgate, Aldershot.

Papers, book chapters and reports

Taylor, M. (2010), ‘Clusters’: a mesmerising mantra’, Tijdschrift voor Econ en Soc Geografie, (TESG), 101(3), 276-286.

Bryson, J.R .and Taylor, M. (2010), ‘Competitiveness by Design and Inimitability through Service: Understanding the dynamics of firm-based competition in the West Midlands Jewellery and Lock Industries’, The Service Industries Journal, 30 (4), 583-596.

Taylor, M. and Bryson, J. (2010), ‘Erosion from above, erosion from below: labour, value chain relegation and manufacturing sustainability’, in A. Bergene, S. Endressen and H. Knutsen (eds), Missing Links in Local Geography, Ashgate, Farnham, 75-93.

Bryson J.R. and Taylor, M.J. (2010), ‘Mutural dependency, diversity and alterity in production: cooperatives, group contracting and factories’, in Fuller D., Jonas A. and Lee R. (eds), Interrogating Alterity, Ashgate, Farnham, 75-93.

Taylor, M. (2009), ‘The Firm in Economic Geography’, in Kitchin , R. and Thrift, N. (eds) International Encyclopaedia of Human Geography, Volume 4, Elsevier Science and Technology, Amsterdam, 173-178.

Taylor, M. (2009), ‘Understanding Local Growth: Regional Science, Globalization and Recession’, Regional Science Policy and Practice, 1(2), 129-140.

Begley, S., Taylor, M.J. & Bryson, J.R. (2009), ‘Firms as Connected, Temporary Coalitions: Organisational Forms and the Exploitation of Intellectual Capital’, Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 7, (1), April 2009, p. 11-20

Taylor, M., Plummer, P. Bryson, J, and Garlick, S. (2008), ‘The Role of Universities in Building Local Economic Capacities’, Politics and Policy, 36(2), 216-231.

Bryson, J. Taylor, M. and Daniels, P. (2008), ‘Commercializing "Creative" Expertise: Business and Professional Services and Regional Economic Development in the West Midlands, United Kingdom’, Politics and Policy, 36(2), 306-328

Bryson, J., Taylor, M. and Cooper, R. (2008), Competing by Design, Specialization and Customization: Manufacturing Locks in the West Midlands (UK)’, Geografiska Annaler, 90(2), 173-186.

Bryson, J.R. and Taylor, M. (2008), Enterprise by ‘industrial’ design: creativity and competitiveness in the Birmingham (UK) Jewellery Quarter, DIME (Dynamics of Institutions and Markets in Europe) Working Paper 47 on Intellectual Property Rights, 18 pages, available at: http://www.dime-eu.org/files/active/0/WP47-IPR.pdf

Taylor, M. and Bryson, J. (2008), ‘The restructuring of metal manufacturing in the West Midlands Region of the UK: an emerging new geography’, in C. Tamasy and M. Taylor, (eds), Globalising Worlds: Geographical Perspectives on New Economic Configurations, Ashgate, Aldershot, 145-154. (ISBN: 978-0-7546-7377-4)

Tamasy, C. and Taylor, M. (2008), ‘Researching New Economic Configurations: Theory and Context’, in C. Tamasy and M. Taylor, (eds), Globalising Worlds: Geographical Perspectives on New Economic Configurations, Ashgate, Aldershot, 1-9. (ISBN: 978-0-7546-7377-4)

Begley, S., Taylor, M. and Bryson, J.R. (2008), Building and exploiting intellectual capital: The firm as a connected, in Harorimana, D; Watkins, D (eds), Proceedings of the 9th European Conference on Knowledge Management, Southampton, ENGLAND HO Southampton, Solent.

Garlick, S. Taylor, M. and Plummer P. (2007), An Enterprising Approach to Regional Growth: Implications for Policy and the Role of Vocational Education and Training, National Centre for Vocational Education and Training (NCVER) (for the Australian Government), Adelaide. (ISBN 978 1 921170 69 0), 55pp plus support document 52pp, available at: http://www.ncver.edu.au/publications/1801.html

Bryson, J.R., Taylor, M., Henricksen, G. and Taylor, G. (2007), 'Enterprise by ‘Industrial Design': Chains, Rings and Bling in the Birmingham (UK) Jewellery Quarter', in Andolin, M., Merinen, M. and Kautonen, M. (eds), Services Competitiveness and Cohesion: Balancing Dynamics in the Knowledge Society: XVII International RESER Conference - Programme and Abstracts, The European Association for Research on Services and the University of Tampere: 38-39, (ISBN 978-951-44-7032-5).

Taylor, M. (2006), ‘Clusters and Local Economic Growth: Unpacking the Cluster Model’, in Gatrell, J. (ed) Approaches to Local Economic Growth, Springer.

Taylor, M. (2006), ‘Fragments and Gaps: Exploring the Theory of the Firm’, In M. Taylor and Päivi Oinas (eds), Understanding the Firm: Spatial and Organizational Dimensions, Oxford University Press (Chapter 1), p.3-31.

Taylor, M. and Bryson, J. (2006), ‘Guns, Firms and Contracts: The Evolution of Gun-Making in Birmingham’, In M. Taylor and Päivi Oinas (eds), Understanding the Firm: Spatial and Organizational Dimensions, Oxford University Press (Chapter 3), p.61-84.

Taylor, M.(2006), ‘The Firm: Coalitions, Communities and Collective Agency’, In M. Taylor and Päivi Oinas (eds), Understanding the Firm: Spatial and Organizational Dimensions, Oxford University Press (Chapter 4), p. 87-116.

Taylor, M. (2005), ‘Embedded local growth: a theory taken too far? in: R.A. Boschma & R. Kloosterman (eds.), Learning from clusters. A critical assessment, Springer Verlag, Dordrecht. 69-88.

Taylor, M. (2005), ‘Globalisation and Local Embeddedness: The Dynamics of the South Hampshire Electronics Industry’, In A.Lagendijk and P.Oinas (eds), Proximity Distance and Diversity: Issues in Economic Interaction and Local Development, Ashgate, Aldershot, p.239-253.

Plummer, P and Taylor, M. (2004), ‘Entrepreneurship and Human Capital: Distilling Models of Local Economic Growth to Inform Policy’, Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, 11(4), 427-439.

Taylor, M. and Murphy A. (2004), ‘SMEs, E-Commerce and Location’, Urban Geography, 25(4), 315-331

Park, S. and Taylor, M. (2004), ‘E-Commerce, E-Business, and the Dynamics of Metropolitan Economies’, Urban Geography, 25(4), 285-288.

Taylor, M. and Murphy, A. (2004), ‘SMEs and E-Business: Identifying Opportunities’, Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, 11(3), 280-289.

Taylor, M. (2004), The Firm as a Connected, Temporary Coalition, Spaces 2004-5, Marburg University, 22pp. (ISSN 1612-0205)

Taylor, M. and Plummer, P. (2003) ‘Promoting Local Economic Growth: The Role of Entrepreneurship and Human Capital’, Education and Training, 45 (8/9) 558-563.

Taylor, M. and Plummer, P. (2003), ‘Drivers of Local Growth: Ideologies, Ambiguities and Policies’, The Australasian Journal of Regional Studies, 9(3), 239-257.

Taylor, M. and Plummer, P. (2003) ‘Reclaiming the Past: Lessons for “Cluster” Policy’, Environment and Planning A, 35, 2091-2094.

Plummer, P. and Taylor, M. ‘Theory and Praxis in Economic Geography; ‘Entrepreneurship’ and Local Growth in a Global Economy’, Environment and Planning C, 21, 633-649.

Bathelt, H. and Taylor, M. (2002) ‘Clusters, Power and Place: Inequality and Local Growth in Time-Space’, Geografiska Annaler, 84(2), 93-109.

Taylor, M. (2002), ‘Enterprise, Embeddedness and Exclusion: Business and Development in Fiji’, TESG, vol. 93 (2), pp. 302-315.

Taylor, M. and Leonard, S. (2002) ‘Approaching Embeddedness’, in M. Taylor, and S. Leonard (eds), Social Capital and the Embedded Enterprise: International Comparisons, Ashgate, Aldershot, pp. 1-17.

Openshaw, S. and Taylor, M. (2002), ‘Embeddedness and the Formation of New Firms: A Case Study from the UK Electronics Industry’, in M. Taylor, and S. Leonard (eds), Social Capital and the Embedded Enterprise: International Comparisons, Ashgate, Aldershot, pp. 95-111.

Search, P. and Taylor, M. (2002), ‘Local Embeddedness and Service Firms: Evidence from Southern England’, in M. Taylor, and S. Leonard (eds), Social Capital and the Embedded Enterprise: International Comparisons, Ashgate, Aldershot, pp. 151-168.

Taylor, M. (2002), ‘Local Enterprise Embeddedness in Fiji’, in M. Taylor, and S. Leonard (eds), Social Capital and the Embedded Enterprise: International Comparisons, Ashgate Aldershot, pp. 249-268.

Taylor, M. and Leonard, S. (2002), ‘Understanding Embeddedness’, in M. Taylor, and S. Leonard (eds), Social Capital and the Embedded Enterprise: International Comparisons, Ashgate, Aldershot, pp. 291-297.

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