After leaving the US by the end of July, I spent two weeks in Madrid, Spain for holidays. I always love to go back home and visit family and friends.

Regarding the studies of my PhD, that is, learning how cities can develop their economies or not, I found always interesting that when I go back to home my ideas hardly come. That is, when I have visited North and South America, Japan or different European cities, automatically ideas about economic development pop-up, however when I am at home the ideas kind of freeze. It is not that they completely evaporate, but I can tell they simply come much more slowly. In one way it is because I know more about Madrid and its surroundings, but in another way I believe in the saying “ignorance is a bliss”. Then I wonder if it is easier to innovate when you’re out of your comfort zone. I hope you know what I mean.

I have been back in Denmark for two weeks, I had a lot of paper work waiting for me, 4 papers, and projects too. Everyone asks me about my experience in UC Berkeley, and I have to make two minor presentations with the phd students and the Geography group. Being in Berkeley was a great experience, but it’s also nice be back at home (now Denmark).

Most of the academic things are going ok, yesterday I submitted a working paper for a workshop and this next week. This paper involves some healthy academic risks. Soon I will also resend another paper, that a top journal rejected on the basis on the opinion of one of the referees.

Almost every day I spend some minutes on Twitter. It is an interesting tool. I have now 129 followers. I don’t know if they really like it. For me I only use Twitter to take notes of things that can be somewhat related to my studies, and sometimes as my life as phd candidate.

I really enjoy having Birgitte Gregersen as my main supervisor, which is currently the Head of the Department. For other projects related to the university some have not been doing that good, for example, I wanted to get some funding for a project collaborating with some colleagues from University of Barcelona, but it seems it won’t be possible now. I do not know too much of major fund applications, and being abroad, has limited me to work with my co-workers at Aalborg, as we say Geography matters.

On a note on my personal life, our daughter turned 1, and she’s a great walker. This Saturday we’re moving to downtown. This will require more biking from me, which is not that bad, and will also help my wife having things closer, also from her work. We’re excited to live downtown, although we’re going to miss good neighbors. Again geography matters :)

I’m writing from Denver, which is a really nice city! In a couple of days I will be flying back to Europe, finishing my semester in the U.S.

I’m here in Denver because the AAEA Conference. It’s the first time I’m attending. It’s not highly pertinent to my research, but it has some interesting issues, like rural policy or regional development. Some quantitative research atmosphere is always good.

This morning I went to a session  in which they gave some tips to young researchers to publish a paper. They gave many ideas, following there are a few that I found interesting. Some I have tried to do, other I have to improve. I also mix some other ideas I heard in the past. I’d like to share to the ones who read my blog.

  1. What’s your story? The punch line.
  2. Show the hook early in the first paragraphs.
  3. Be careful to beat the dead horse (how novel is to criticize X?)
  4. When you think the paper is finished. Wait a week, and come back to it.
  5. When you think the paper is ready to send. Read it twice.
  6. Listen to reviewers advice (after a few days when you’re not mad)
  7. Do take intellectual risks
  8. Find out the interest of the literature (especially of the journal chosen), but not be uncritical.
  9. Have a journal on mind before start writing.
  10. Less effective approach “I found this cool methodology, and I want to try with a different database”.
  11. More effective approach: “Find a good research question. You don’t need a hard model, simple things that are interesting, like the Freakonomic guys”.
  12. Cover letters: if you want to make one, 3 sentences are fine.
  13. As an editor I will give a paper a second opportunity. Only in two occasions, one, if the problem they’re trying to solve is very interesting, and two, if there is a famous name.
  14. Different journals. Simple blind: only reviewers see your name. Double blind: neither the reviewers or you see their names.
  15. The second reviewer “bad cop” it’s a myth. If one says the paper is good, and the other one trashes it, that should be a coincidence.

At the end I gathered with some PhD students (or grad students how they call them in the US) we were joking that the funny thing was that the main idea was: “guys, you need to make a good paper”… Which is of course… more than obvious.

I hope some of these things work, for the papers I have in the pipeline.

“Effective economic development strategies must be customed-designed to meet the unique strengths and opportunities of local and state economies”.

Luke, Ventriss, Reed & Reed argue on page 175, as the editors of the book Managing Economic Development – A guide to State and Local Leadership Strategies (1988). My first impression when I read this, is the striking resemblance of what I must have written a few years ago for a paper conference or project. That is, one should be careful with the ‘one size fits all’ approach than many economists have. I completely agreed with that. That is… agreed. Because now I’m kind of skeptical of this local oriented approach that treats all communities if they were in the same line of the race track.  I keep reasoning in my head:

For example, in the case of Vallejo, they can make the best possible study looking at their financing, regulation, infrastructure, public services, human capital, etc… to tackle their Local Economic Development (as the mentioned book does in chapter 9).  However, no  matter what these cities do, their options will be very limited because theyir economy is quite dependent on the city-region (the San Francisco Bay Area), State of California, etc.

I think to my self that reviewing this book is not going to be very helpful. I keep reading;

“ (…) As a result of the growing economic interdependence, there has been a significant decline in state and local governments’ capacities to unilaterally develop an implement economic development policies and programs. No one government department or individual public manager can effectively act single handedly. This situation forces the invention of new collaborative mechanisms and collective development strategies.
Successful economic development strategies not only precipitate from an intergovernmental contest of cities, counties, COG’s (Council of Governnments), and state and federal agencies, but also emerge from intersectoral collaboration between the public, private, and non profit sectors. Each sector depends on the vitality of the other (…)”

This book is better that I though!, this are so much in line with one of my working papers!. Let’s continue.

“In such an interconnected policy context, a new type of public leadership is required – catalytic leadership. Chapter Eleven examines this trend and shows how, unlike charismatic leadership, which rallies people around the leader’s vision, catalytic leadership facilitates cooperation among a group of leaders and stimulates the pursuit of a goal that is created collectively by the group”.

A pretty nice book, with good complementary articles.

Again, I remembered that one should never judge something for the first paragraphs one reads. Specially from old fellows…

I found this quote yesterday. I put it in my quotes page.


“When most people hear the word “geography,” they’re reminded of traumatic elementary school quizzes on the names of rivers, mountains ranges, and state capitals. People think of maps. But although the discipline finds its origins in Renaissance exploration and the imperial mapmakers or royal courts, contemporary geographic research has come a long way. Geographers nowadays do everything from building elaborate digital climate models of potential global warming scenarios to picking through bits of fossilized pollen to reconstruct prehistoric agricultural practices, and from tracing the light-speed flows of international capital to documenting localized effects of nature tourism on sub-Saharan village life. The discipline, in short, accommodates a wide range of research methods and topics all united by the axiom that everything happens somewhere, that all human an natural phenomena have, well, geography”

Trevor Paglen | 2009

Anyways if you wonder, what I study is local and regional local economic development. How cities and regions develop their economy. This is related to Economic Geography, and yes I also look at maps.

First post

April 7, 2008

Before starting my phd I considered starting a blog so I could share some of the ideas that I would find during these next 3 years. It would help to track my work and as a sketch of my final project. However I did not know how suitable it would be for me to openly write about my project. Is not that it’s a secret one or something, in fact some issues in my project involve the issues of networking, systems, innovation, all reasons which I believe it would be good to have a blog. I found some very good blogs of other phd students and I really enjoyed them. They are an example for me and I hope that I’m also able to share some of the same energy many phd fellows have.

Besides being a log of my work, my intentions for this blog is to regularly posts things that I find interesting and that I know that someone at sometime would find also interesting.

My phd just started, and I have 3 years in front of me. I will read, and learn many things, and I will try to share some of these things with you.