Faculty Biography


James T. Murphy, Ph.D.

Professor of Geography
Editor-in-Chief: Economic Geography
Graduate School of Geography
Clark University
Worcester, MA 01610-1477

Office: Jefferson 101

Phone: 508-793-7687

Email: Jammurphy@clarku.edu

Curriculum Vitae

Jim Murphy’s research elucidates the structures, agencies, relationalities, and spatialities shaping contemporary economic geographies and examines the prospects for more just, sustainable, and resilient forms of development in the Global South (esp. Africa).  This work draws on concepts, theories, and epistemologies from a variety of fields including: economic geography, development studies, sociology, science and technology studies (STS), urban geography, and sustainable development research.  Broadly considered, his research contributes to three areas of scholarship: 1) Relational economic geographies of industrial change and socioeconomic development; 2) Geographies of socio-technical systems and sustainability transitions; and 3) The development of innovative conceptual frameworks, concepts, and epistemologies that advance understandings of socio-spatial and socioeconomic phenomena.  In addition, as the Editor-in-Chief (since 2014) of Economic Geography he has provided support for diverse research agendas and played a significant role in developing, promoting, expanding, and strengthening the field.

Dr. Murphy joined the faculty as Assistant Professor in 2005. He received his Ph.D. in geography from the University of Florida in 2001, holds an M.A. degree in environmental policy from Tufts University, and has a B.S. degree in chemical engineering from Rutgers University. Prior to beginning his graduate studies, he designed and managed pollution abatement projects in the private sector and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Malawi.

Current Research Interests

  • Relational economic geographies: networks, trust-building, practices, socioeconomic space
  • Sustainability and socio-technical systems in cities
  • Global production networks and regional development in the Global South
  • Information-communication technologies (ICT) and industrial change in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • The social and political dynamics of place making

Courses Offered

Geog/ID 016 Introduction to Economic Geography
Geog 050 Africa Today: Challenges and Opportunities
Geog/ID 052 Global Change, Regional Challenges
Geog/ID 274/377 Africa's Development in Global Context
Geog/ID 364 Graduate Seminar in Economic Geography I: Origins and Classics
Geog/ID 375 Technology and Sustainability: Perspectives from the Global South

Selected Grants and Honors

Faculty Development Grant, Clark University, African cities in transition: Generative urbanization in Nairobi?, 2019, $3,680. Faculty Development Grant, Clark University, African cities in transition: Generative urbanization in Nairobi?, 2019, $3,680.

Elected as Corresponding Member, Technical Sciences, Royal Academy for Overseas Sciences, 2018-

Graduate Student Mentor and Advisor Award, Clark University, 2017-2018

Regional Studies Association, MeRSA grant, Generative Urbanization in Emerging Africa? The Case of Konza Techno City. March 2018 – June 2019, £5,000.

National Science Foundation, Geography and Spatial Science Program (BCS-1655094), Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant, Assembling Community Economies in East and Southeast Turkey, Kaner Turker (co-PI), April 2017 – January 2019, $16,000.

B. Truffer and C. Luethi (co-applicants) Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (EAWAG), J.T. Murphy (international partner), Swiss National Science Foundation, Humanities and Social Sciences, Sustainability Transitions of Sanitation Regimes in Urban Africa (SuSARA): Assessing the prospects for disruptive innovations, CHF 179550, in-kind support by Murphy to EAWAG.

Swiss National Science Foundation, International Short Visit Program, Geographical Factors and Sociotechnical Transitions in Urban Water Sectors: Rethinking the Pathways to Sustainability in the Global South, Visit to the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (EAWAG), June 10 to July 11, 2013, CHF 4,360.

Humanities and Social Sciences Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Queen Mary University London, UK, February 5 to March 2, 2013.

Hayden Faculty Award, Clark University, 2011-2012.

National Science Foundation, Geography and Spatial Science Program (BCS-1234594), Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant, Industrial Policy, Ideas, and Institutional Change in Brazil, J. Alex Sphar (co-PI), September 2012 – September 2013, $15,997.

National Science Foundation, Geography and Spatial Sciences and Science, Technology, and Society Programs (BCS-0925151), The role of information-communication technologies in enterprise development and industrial change in Africa: Evidence from South Africa and Tanzania, Principal Investigator with Pádraig Carmody at Trinity College-Dublin (Co-PI), September 2009 – February 2012, $230,000.

National Science Foundation, Geography and Spatial Science Program (BCS-0927837), Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant for PhD Candidate Mary Lawhon, Electronic Waste Recycling in South Africa: Transition Management in Practice?, Mary Lawhon (co-PI), September 2009 – February 2011, $12,000.

Hodgkins Junior Faculty Award, Clark University, 2007-2008.

National Science Foundation, Geography and Regional Science Program, Bolivia’s Forest Management Policies and Development of the Wood Products Industry, Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) Supplemental Award for NSF GRS 0616030, April 2007 - August 2008, $10,570.

National Science Foundation, Geography and Regional Science Program (BCS-0616030), The Socio-Spatial Dimensions of Industrial Change in Bolivia: Manufacturers, Regions, and the Prospects for Global Value Chain Integration, August 2006 – August 2008, $50,000.

National Science Foundation, Geography and Regional Science Program, Doctoral Dissertation Research Grant (Edward Malecki-PI), University of Florida, 1999, $10,000.

Selected Publications


Murphy, J.T.  (2017) Section Editor: Development Studies, International Encyclopedia of Geography, D. Richardson (Editor-in-Chief), N. Castree, M. Goodchild, A. Kobayashi, W. Liu, and D. Marston (general editors), Malden: Wiley Blackwell AAG (Section editor responsible for 27 entries, approx. 110,000 words).

Murphy, J.T. and P. Carmody (2015) Africa’s Information Revolution: Technical Regimes and Production Networks in South Africa and Tanzania. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell. (2016 prizewinner of the Royal Academy for Overseas Sciences)

Aoyama, Y., Murphy, J.T., and S. Hanson (2010) Key Concepts in Economic Geography, London: Sage Publications.


Murphy, J.T. (in press) “Global production network dis/articulations in Zanzibar: Practices and conjunctures of exclusionary development in the tourism industry,” Journal of Economic Geography.

Ouma, S., Hughes, A., Murphy, J.T. and M. Opondo (in press) “Envisioning African Futures: Perspectives from Economic Geography,” Geoforum.  

Murphy, J.T. and P. Carmody (2019) “Generative urbanization in Africa? A sociotechnical systems view of Tanzania’s urban transition,” Urban Geography. 40(1), 128-157 https://doi.org/10.1080/02723638.2018.1470249.

van Welie, M.J., Cherunya, P.C., Truffer, B. and J.T. Murphy (2018) “Analyzing transition pathways in developing cities: The case of Nairobi’s splintered sanitation regime”, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 137(December), 259-271.

Horner, R. and J.T. Murphy (2018) “South-North and South-South production networks: diverging socio-spatial practices of Indian pharmaceutical firms,” Global Networks, 18(2), 326-351.

Truffer, B., Murphy, J.T., and R. Raven (2015) “The geography of sustainability transitions: Contours of an emerging theme,” Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, 17, 63-72

Murphy, J.T. (2015) “Human geography and socio-technical transition studies: Promising intersections,” Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, 17, 73-91.

McCauley, S., J. Rogan, J.T. Murphy, B.L. Turner, and S. Ratick (2014) “Modeling the socio-spatial constraints on land use change:  The case of peri-urban sprawl in the Greater Boston Region,” Environment and Planning B Planning and Design, 42(2), 221 – 241.

Murphy, J.T., P. Carmody, and B. Surborg (2014) “Industrial transformation or business as usual? Information-communication technologies and Africa’s place in the global information economy,” Review of African Political Economy, 41(140), 264-283.

McCauley, S. and J.T. Murphy (2013) “Smart growth and the scalar dynamics of neoliberal environmental governance reform:  A case study from Greater Boston, USA,” Environment and Planning A, 45(12), 2852-2867.

Murphy, J.T. (2013) “Transforming small, medium, and micro-scale enterprises? Information-communication technologies (ICTs) and industrial change in Tanzania,” Environment and Planning A, 45(7), 1753-1772.

Makene M.H., Emel J., and J.T. Murphy (2012) “Calling for justice in the goldfields of Tanzania,” Resources 1(1), 3-22.

Lawhon, M. and J.T. Murphy (2012) “Socio-technical regimes and sustainability transitions: Insights from political ecology,” Progress in Human Geography, 36(3), 354 - 378.

Murphy, J.T. (2012) “Global production networks, relational proximity, and the socio-spatial dynamics of market internationalization in Bolivia’s wood products sector,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 102(1), 208-233.

Murphy, J.T. (2011) “The socio-spatial dynamics of development: Geographical insights beyond the 2009 World Development Report,” Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 4(2), 175-188.

Murphy, J.T. and M. Lawhon (2011) “Market intermediaries and rural people in Bolivia’s forest products sector: Are trusting partnerships possible?,” Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 32(2), 203-219.

Jones, A. and J.T. Murphy (2011) “Theorizing practice in economic geography: Foundations, challenges, and possibilities,” Progress in Human Geography, 35(3), 366-392.

Contributor, with 20 others (2011) “Emerging themes in economic geography: Outcomes of the Economic Geography 2010 Workshop,” Economic Geography, 87(2), 111–126.

Pierce, J., Martin, D.G., and J.T. Murphy (2011) “Relational place-making: the networked politics of place,” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 36(1), 54-70.

Murphy, J.T. and S. Schindler (2011) “Globalizing development in Bolivia? Alternative networks and value-capture challenges in the wood products industry” Journal of Economic Geography, 11(1), 61-85.

Jones, A. and J.T. Murphy (2010) “Practice and economic geography,” Geography Compass, 4(4), 303-319.

Rock, M, Murphy, J.T., Rasiah, R, van Seters, P and S Managi (2009) “A hard slog, not a leap frog: Globalization and sustainability transitions in developing Asia,” Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 76(2), 241-254.

Murphy, J.T. (2008a) “Economic geographies of the Global South: Missed opportunities and promising intersections with development studies,” Geography Compass, 2(3), 851–873.

Murphy, J.T. (2007) “The challenge of upgrading in African industries: Socio-spatial factors and the urban environment in Mwanza, Tanzania.” World Development, 35(10), 1754-1778.

Murphy, J.T. (2006c) “Representing the economic geographies of “others”: reconsidering the Global South.” Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 30(3), 439-448.

Murphy, J.T. (2006b) “Building trust in economic space.” Progress in Human Geography, 30(4), 427-450.

Murphy, J.T. (2006a) “The socio-spatial dynamics of creativity and production in Tanzanian industry: Urban furniture manufacturers in a liberalizing economy.” Environment & Planning A, 38(10), 1863–1882.

Murphy, J.T. (2003) “Social space and industrial development in East Africa: Deconstructing the logics of industry networks in Mwanza, Tanzania,” Journal of Economic Geography, 3(2), 173-198.

Murphy, J.T. (2002) “Networks, trust, and innovation in Tanzania’s manufacturing sector,” World Development, 30(4), 491-519.

Murphy, J.T. (2001) “Making the energy transition in rural East Africa: Is leapfrogging an alternative?” Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 68(2), 173-193.


Murphy, J.T., Carmody, P., Grant, R., and F. Owusu (2018) “The impact of China on African cities: Potentials for development”, pp. 106-127, In: Handbook of Emerging 21st Century Cities, K. Archer and K. Bezdecny (eds),  Northampton: Edward Elgar.

Murphy, J.T. (2018) “The relational turn in economic geography”, pp. 161-173, In: The Routledge Companion to International Business and Economic Geography, J. Beaverstock, G. Cook, J. Johns, F. McDonald, and N. Pandit (eds), New York: Routledge.

Carmody, P. and J.T. Murphy (2017) “The impact of China and South Africa in urban Africa”, pp. 29-49 In: Foreign Capital Flows and Economic Development in Africa: BRICS’ versus OECD’s Impact, E. F. Wamboye and E.A. Tiruneh (eds), Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.

Murphy, J.T. (2008) “Transforming innovation and development practice in the Global South? Myths, realities, and the prospects for base-of-the-pyramid approaches”, pp. 412-429, In: Sustainability Challenges and Solutions at the Base of the Pyramid: Business, Technology and the Poor, P. Kandachar and M. Halme (eds.), Sheffield: Greenleaf.


Carmody, P. and J.T. Murphy (2016) “Africa’s Information “Revolution”: Limitations, Challenges and Possibilities in Production,” The African Technopolitan, African Centre for Technology Studies, http://www.acts-net.org/images/Pubs/Magazine/The_African_Technopolitan_January_2016_Issue.pdf 

Carmody, P. and J.T. Murphy (2015) “Africa’s Information Revolution: Rhetoric and Reality,” Geographical, opinion piece published on-line, April 17, http://geographical.co.uk/magazine.


Editor-in-Chief, Economic Geography (2014-) - Two-year (2020) citation impact factor (CIF) = 11.676; ranked 2 out of 85 geography journals and 2 out of 377 economics journals. Five-year (2020) CIF = 14.2

Editor, Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy (2013-2016)

Guest Editor, Special Issue on “The Geography of Sustainability Transitions,” Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, (2013-2015)