The Bartlett Development Planning Unit

Dr Naji Makarem

Dr Naji Makarem

Course co-Director, Msc. Urban Economic Development Lecturer, Political Economy of Development

Development Planning Unit

Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL
18th Sep 2013

Research summary

My research has focused on highly advanced economies in California and emerging economies in Africa. A cross-cutting theme of my work has been on the ability of institutions to respond appropriately to the challenges and opportunities brought about by our current transition into the new (moral) economy. 

My research in California has culminated in our co-authored book called “The rise and fall of urban economies: Lessons from San Francisco and Los Angeles”, published by Stanford University Press in 2016 (with Michael Storper, Tom Kemeny and Taner Osman). I published my findings about the the role of the social structure and business-civic leadership in the economic success of the Bay Area, published in Sage - Environment & Planning C (2016).

My research in Nigeria has been through consultancy projects for the World Bank and the Department for International Development (DFID). I co-authored a baseline reports on Nigeria titled "Economic Development in Urban Nigeria" (2015), contributed industrial and spatial analysis and co-authored Chapter 2 of the World Bank Nigeria Urbanisation Review, "From Oil to Cities: Nigeria's next transformation" (2016), amongst others. I and am currently writing two journal articles, a theory piece on appropriate perspectives and world views for urban development, and an article on business-civic leadership and the business climate in Nigeria. 

Teaching summary

I teach on the following modules:

• BENUE3 - Practice in Urban Economic Development

• BENVGDAA - Critical ideas of development: Conceptions and realities (Two sessions)
• BENVGDA9 - Industrialization & Infrastructure (Half module)
• MPhil - Research Methods Seminars


My research and consultancy (I am the founder of UrbanEmerge, a self-managed development consultancy) are in the field of urban and regional development, aspiring to contribute towards the emergence of inclusive, prosperous and environmentally sustainable cities and regions. 

My research so far has explored three dimensions of the development process: 

-  Institutions: Government, governance, culture, perspectives and social structure

- Industrial development: Structural transformation, specialisation, clusters, value chains, the business climate, innovation and entrepreneurship, and 

- Urbanisation: The development of cities and regions as enabling contexts for inclusive and sustainable economic development and wellbeing.

My cross-cutting approach  to my research and practice is to better align the intentions and actions of individuals with the purpose of organisations and society at large. Harmonising the relationship between self, our organisations and political-economic systems is the source of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and wellbeing for all.  This I believe is achievable by broadening our scope of consideration to all the people and spaces affected by our decisions. This requires developing greater awareness of the eco-system we are part of (through robust and creative research  and engagement), generalised trust in diverse social contexts (a crucial role for institutions), and shared and appropriate perspectives and world views that guide our individual and collective purpose and behaviour (drawing from theory and mutual understanding through equivalence and dialogue).

My work lies at the intersection of theory and practice, which allows me to conceptualise and theorise while continuously grounding my perspective to our complex and interrelated realites. This continuous shift in perspectives creates a positive feedback loop between clarity from above and deep understanding from the ground.