Martin Hess

Martin Hess


Personal profile


1998 Dr. oec.publ. (Ph.D.), University of Munich, Germany (magna cum laude).

1992 Diploma (hons) in Economic and Social Geography, University of Munich, Germany.

1986-1992 Studies in Geography, Statistics, and Sociology at the Universities of Bamberg and Munich, Germany.

I am an Economic Geographer in the School of Environment and Development, University of Manchester and first joined the Department as a Research Fellow from 2000 until 2003, before returning in 2004 to take up my current position. Following my undergraduate and graduate studies in Bamberg and Munich, I worked in the Department of Economic Geography at the University of Munich, Germany, where I also obtained my PhD. Having held a Visiting Scholarship at the University of Hong Kong in 2001-2002, I have spent three months in 2011 working as a Visiting Scholar at the International Labour Organization in Geneva and two weeks in 2017 as a Visiting Fellow at the National University of Singapore.

Research interests

  • Regional and urban economic development
  • Firms, Strategies and Networks
  • Evolution and Change of Global Production Networks
  • Governance and Labour
  • Geographies of Dissociation

My main research interest firmly lies in the analysis of global production networks (GPNs) and regional development. In particular, I am interested in the embeddedness and power configurations of GPNs and their implications for development outcomes. The latter has renewed my interest in development issues in the Global South which at present is one focus of my research. More specifically, there are currently three areas of research I pursue. First, continued work on the theoretical foundations of the global production networks approach, working towards a cultural political economy of GPNs; second, research on GPNs and logistics; third, the implications of GPN configurations and variegated capitalism on working conditions and workers rights in the Global South.

Research projects


Year 1
GEOG 10101 – Geographies of Globalisation (since 2009)

Year 2
GEOG 20101 – Economic Geography (2004-2009; 2012-)
GEOG 20062 – Dissertation Support/Interviews and their Analysis (2004-2008)

Year 3
GEOG 30291 – Critical Perspectives on Development (2006-2008, 2010, 2012-2013)

Small group teaching
First year tutorials (2004-)
GEOG 20711 – Second year Communication Skills (2005-2008)
Dissertation tutorials
Third year team project (2005-2008)

Field work
First year introductory Keswick field trip
Course leader on second Year Munich field course (2004-2009)
Second Year field course to the Czech Republic (2010-2011)
Second Year field course to Amsterdam (2012-2013)

Second Year field course to Hong Kong (2014-)

Further information

At the University of Manchester

  • Director of Geography Undergraduate Programmes (2008-2011)
  • Coordinator, GPERG (2008-2011) 
  • Chair, Geography Programme Committee (2008-2011)
  • Member of the HEAR Steering Committee (2009- 2011)

Outside the University of Manchester

  • Member of the ESRC Peer Review College (2015-)
  • Board Member, Economic Geography Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers (2011-2013)
  • Treasurer, Economic Geography Research Group of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) (2007-2010)
  • Member of the Editorial Advisory Board, critical perspectives on international business (2009-)
  • Member of the International Editorial Board, Norwegian Journal of Geography (Norsk Geografisk Tidsskrift) (2015-)
  • Member of the Editorial Review Board, Transnational Corporations (published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) (2018-)
  • Member of the Editorial Board, Spatial Research and Planning (Raumforschung und Raumordnung) (2019-)

Professional memberships:

  • American Association of Geographers, Washington DC.
  • Association of German University Teachers in Geography, Bonn.
  • International Geographical Union, Washington DC.
  • Royal Geographical Society - Institute of British Geographers, London (Fellow).
  • Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics, Baltimore

Peer Review

Referee for:

  • Annals of the Association of American Geographers
  • Antipode
  • Area
  • British Journal of Industrial Relations
  • Competition & Change
  • Critical Perspectives on International Business
  • Die Erde
  • Economic Geography
  • Environment & Planning
  • Erdkunde
  • European Urban and Regional Studies
  • Geoforum
  • Geografiska Annaler
  • Geographica Helvetica
  • Geographische Zeitschrift
  • Geography Compass
  • Global Labour Journal
  • Global Networks
  • Growth & Change
  • Historical Materialism
  • Industry & Innovation
  • International Journal of Urban and Regional Research
  • International Migration Review
  • International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research
  • Journal für Entwicklungspolitik
  • Journal of Economic Geography
  • Journal of Geography in Higher Education
  • Journal of World Systems Research
  • New Political Economy
  • Norsk Geografisk Tidsskrift
  • Progress in Human Geography
  • Regional Studies
  • Review of International Political Economy
  • Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography
  • Social and Cultural Geography
  • Sociology
  • The Professional Geographer
  • Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie
  • Town Planning Review
  • Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers
  • Transnational Corporations
  • Urban Geography
  • Urban Studies
  • World Development
  • Zeitschrift fuer Wirtschaftsgeographie
  • Book proposal reviewer for: Blackwell, Edward Elgar, Routledge, and Sage Publishers
  • Research Proposal reviewer for: ESRC (UK), NSF (USA), DFG (Germany), SNF (Switzerland), RGC (Hong Kong), SSHRC (Canada), NRC (Norway), CSF (Czech Republic), Hans Boeckler Stiftung (Germany)


Selected presentations

2023: Globalisation in Reverse? Discourses, Drivers and Dangers of Deglobalisation. EU COST Symposium on 'Mediterranean Encounters', Izmir, Turkey, February.

2022: Geographies of Dissociation: On valuation, dark places and missing links in global production networks. Geography Seminar, Universidad Catolica, Santiago de Chile, September.

2019: Contesting Global Production Networks of Fur: Spaces of Commodification, Valuation and Dissociation. 115th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Geographers, Washington D.C., USA, April. With Jana Kleibert.

2019: Global Production Networks: The State, Power and Politics. Responsible Global Value Chains Workshop, Paris, France, February.

2018: Radicalising Global Production Networks. Invited Panellist, Global Conference on Economic Geography, Cologne, Germany, July.

2017: Governmentalizing Gramsci: Topologies of Power and Passive Revolution in Cambodia’s Garment Production Network. Conference on Global Production, National University of Singapore, December.

 2017: Investigating Embeddedness: Qualitative Methods and Cross-Cultural Research. 4th PhD Conference on the Production and Interpretation of Qualitative Data, Norwegian Researcher School in Geography, University of Bergen, Norway, October.

 2017: Firm versus Floor: Interrogating Labour Struggles Within and Beyond Global Production Networks. GPN@NUS Seminar Series, National University of Singapore, September.

 2015: Global Production Networks and Investment: The State is Dead – Long Live the State. Global Dynamics Seminar on The Paradox of Globalisation: Embedded Investment and Economic Nationalism, Department of Globalisation and Society, University of Roskilde, Denmark, October.

2015: Global Production Networks, Labour and Development. Annual Herbertson Memorial Lecture, Manchester Geographical Association, Manchester, UK, February.

2014: Invited Panelist, The Spatial and Historical Development of MNEs: International Business and Economic Geography Perspectives. 41st Annual Conference of the Academy of International Business, University of York, UK, April.

2013: Conceptualising Power in Global Production Networks. Workshop on Labour Relations and Power in Global Production Networks – Conceptual and Methodological Challenges, University of Kassel, Germany, July.

2013: Global Production Networks and Variegated Capitalism - (Self-)Regulating Labour in Cambodian Garment Factories. Politics, Economy and Space Research Group (PEAS) Seminar, Department of Geography, National University of Singapore, February.

2012: Global Production Networks and Variegated Capitalism: (Self-)Regulating Labour in Cambodian Garment Factories. SASE 24th Annual Conference, MIT, Cambridge/Mass., USA, June.

2012: Global Production Networks and Territorial Development. Public Seminar, Department of Geography and Geology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, March.

2011: Towards a Cultural Political Economy of Global Production Networks. International Workshop on ‘Value Chains, Production Networks, and the Geographies of Development: Emerging Challenges and Future Agenda’, National University of Singapore, December 2011.

2011: Global Production Networks and Regional Development: A Cultural Political Economy. Economic Geography Discussion Forum, Department of Geography, University of Zurich, Switzerland, November 2011.

2011: Investigating the Archipelago Economy: Chains, Networks and the Study of Uneven Development. Public Guest Lecture, KU International Lecture Series, University of Eichstätt, Germany, May 2011.

2011: Investigating Alternative Biofuel Production in Indonesia: A Global Production Networks Approach. Keynote address to the JARAK Research Workshop, University of Leiden, Netherlands, March 2011.

2010: Economic and Social Upgrading in Global Logistics. International Workshop on ‘Capturing the Gains: Economic and Social Upgrading in Global Production Networks’, Agra, India, May.

2009: Globale Produktionsnetzwerke und Regionalentwicklung: Das Beispiel der Textilindustrie in Otavalo/Ecouador. Department of Geography Seminar, University of Osnabrück, Germany, November.

2009: Investigating the Archipelago Economy: Chains, Networks and Uneven Development. Launch event and Special Issue presentation of the Austrian Journal of Development Studies 2/2009, University of Vienna, Austria, June.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Urban Institute


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