The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Staff Profile

Professor Danny MacKinnon

Professor of Regional Development and Governance


Roles and Responsibilities

Editor, Urban Studies

Degree Programme Co-Director, MA Regional Development (Research) and MA Regional Development and Spatial Planning 

Convener, New Economic Geographies Research Cluster



Ma (Hons) Geography, University of Dundee, 1995 

PhD Geography, University of Edinburgh, 1998



2009-2013: Senior Research Fellow, School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow.

2001-2009: Lecturer and Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, University of Aberdeen.

2000-2001: Research Fellow, Department of Geography and Environment, University of Aberdeen.

1999-2000: Research Associate, Department of City and Regional Planning, Cardiff University.



Royal Geographical Society/ Institute of British Geographers (RGS / IBG)





Research Interests  

I am an economic and political geographer whose research is centrally concerned with the institutions and politics of local and regional development. Recent work has contributed to debates in Evolutionary Economic Geography and to questions of urban and regional adaptation and change in particular. In theoretical terms, I am interested with the development of ‘new’ political economy approaches that combine a continuing emphasis on the spatially uneven development of capitalist social relations with more agency-oriented accounts. My future research agenda involves linking urban and regional development to issues of social and spatial justice in an increasingly unequal world.  

Current work

Recent work has focused on the economic adaptation of old industrial regions in the UK and Europe, and I have also been involved in an ESRC/DfID-funded project on mining and urbanisation in sub-Saharan Africa. This work is providing a new international focus for my concern with regional adaptation to economic change, informed also by an engagement with resource-based development in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

Current and developing research has four main strands.  

First, work on regional adaptation and evolution, which is being undertaken collaboratively with colleagues in CURDS and elsewhere. The main focus for this research is the issue of new path creation in post-industrial regions, focusing on renewable energy and the offshore wind sector in particular. We are developing a conceptual framework that stresses the interactions between: regional assets; key agents; mechanisms of path creation such as indigenous innovation and entrepreneurship, 'branching' or diversification from existing sectors, and transplantation from outside; and institutional environments. The research aims to understand how economic novelty emerges, given the pre-occupation of much evolutionary research with the reproduction of existing forms, often understood in terms of path dependence or 'lock-in'. Other work in this area is developing the idea of adaptive capacity and applying it to the evolution of post-industrial regions such as North East England and West-Central Scotland.  

Second, I’m developing research on regional couplings, institutional advantage and FDI in conjunction with colleagues in CURDS, particularly Stuart Dawley. This builds upon my recent paper in the Journal of Economic Geography (MacKinnon 2012) and brings together insights from the global production networks (GPN) approach and the more empirically-grounded tradition of work on FDI and regional development. It aims to assess the role of regional institutions in fostering particular forms of coupling between regional assets and FDI projects in the context of an asymmetrically devolved UK, assessing the extent to which devolved regions such as Scotland and Wales enjoy an institutional advantage over the English regions following the abolition of the RDAs.  

A third strand of research is concerned with developing progressive approaches to local and regional development, building on research undertaken with colleagues at the University of Glasgow. This aims to develop the outlines of an alternative progressive approach to regional development informed by wider theories of spatial justice; inspired, in part, by development in the urban sphere around just cities and the right to the city.  

Finally, I’m also working on developing the concept of resourcefulness, with Kate Derickson (University of Minnesota), Andy Cumbers (University of Glasgow) and Paul Routledge (University of Leeds) as set out in our recent paper in Progress in Human Geography (MacKinnon and Derickson 2013). This aims to develop a new understanding of how processes of community action and resourcefulness actually operate in the context of relatively marginalised communities in the Global North, transcending the limitations of existing concepts such as capacity-building, social capital and participation. 

Research Roles

Editor, Urban Studies 

Convener, New Economic Geographies Research Cluster 

Postgraduate Supervision


Flavia Velasquez-Forte (2008-) Decentralisation in developing countries: the case of Chile. (University of Glasgow). 

Athina Arampatzi (2011-) The national and the grassroots: tracking anti-neoliberal struggles to their urban roots in Athens, Greece. (joint with Paul Routledge) (University of Leeds) 


Tom Hastings (main supervisor) ‘A job worth doing? Labour agency, control and resistance in Glasgow call centres’. Completed 2010. ESRC funded. University of Aberdeen / Glasgow. 

Kate Pangbourne (joint supervisor with J. Shaw and I. Docherty), ‘Regional transport partnerships in Scotland’. Completed 2010. Scottish Government funded. University of Aberdeen. 

Helen Edmond (joint supervisor with K.Chapman), ‘Tourist networks in rural Scotland’. Completed 2009. University of Aberdeen. 



Undergraduate Teaching

GEO2099 Economic Geography

GEO3114 Local and Regional Development


Postgraduate Teaching

GEO8002 Local and Regional Development Theory and Practice

GEO8009 Developing Local and Regional Strategies

GEO8018 Local and Regional Development and Governance