William Strange is currently the RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust Professor of Real Estate and Urban Economics in the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto and co-editor of the Journal of Urban Economics. His past affiliations include the University of British Columbia where he was Real Estate Foundation Professor of Urban Land Economics, Director of the Centre for Real Estate and Urban Land Economics, and Chair of the Urban Land Economics Division in the Faculty of Commerce and Business Administration.
His scholarly contributions to the urban and regional literature are wide ranging. His early contributions, joint with Robert Helsley, developed theoretical models of the micro-foundations of agglomeration economies, which inspired many of the subsequent developments in this area. Their work on micro-foundations continues. In a different line of theoretical work, Strange and Helsley developed the basic models we have of mixed-governance communities, which are governed by a public sector in competition with private provision of public goods.
Complementing the theoretical models of agglomeration economies, Strange, joint with Stuart Rosenthal, has an influential set of papers on the estimation of agglomeration economies, starting with a 2001 paper in the Journal of Urban Economics, and a review of the issues in their chapter in the 2004 Handbook of Urban and Regional Economics. Other work on agglomeration has appeared in the Review of Economics and Statistics, and a recent contribution with Rosenthal on the micro-empirics of agglomeration can be found in the Companion to Urban Economics volume edited by Arnott and McMillan.
The work of Rosenthal and Strange has done a great deal to focus the attention of regional science research on empirical evidence in favor of the microeconomic foundations of agglomeration. A thoughtful consideration of the evidence in support of fundamental tenants underlying agglomeration economies that arise from the new economic geography (NEG) versus competing alternative explanations for agglomeration is perhaps the hallmark of William Strange’s scholarship. A series of distinct scholarly works have systematically explored plausible alternative explanations for agglomeration as they relate to NEG, for example human capital externalities models, location of skilled workers, technological externalities and knowledge spillovers, the role of geography and industrial organization as well as geography and entrepreneurship as they pertain to cities.
Discriminating between these plausible alternative explanations for agglomeration often proves difficult, but William Strange has produced a number of contributions that have lead to important progress along the path to delineating important empirical tests that will improve our understanding of agglomeration economies as they relate to broader issues of importance to regional science.
For his distinguished scholarly contributions on agglomeration economies and other areas of research, we recommend that the North American Regional Science Council present the 2009 Walter Isard Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Field of Regional Science to William Strange.