The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Staff Profile

Professor Danny MacKinnon

Professor of Regional Development and Governance


Roles and Responsibilities

Director, Centre for Urban & Regional Development Studies (CURDS)



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 three 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.  

Postgraduate Supervision

Laura Sariego

Diana Morales

Lewis Evans

Peter Morris 

Robert Pollock

Gemma Bone

Ruth Puttick

Samson Afewerki (based at NTNU, Trondheim)



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