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Department of Economics

Tobias Franz

BA (Münster; Aix-en-Provence), MSc (Glasgow)


Tobias Franz
Tobias Franz
Email address:
Thesis title:
The Political Economy of Institutional Change and Economic Development in Urban Colombia - Analysing the Cases of Medellin and Cali (working title)
Year of Study:
Year of Entry: 2012 - 2013
Internal Supervisors

PhD Research

Through the Colombian Constitution of 1991 several decentralisation policies were implemented in the country. While this shift of power that increased the autonomy and political reach of local governments gave the institutional underpinnings for the emergence of new local political elite in some municipalities, it did not change the institutional landscape in others. The thesis explores the cases of the two cities of Medellin and Cali and analyses how these differences in local institutional development impacted the economic performance of the large urban areas.

Medellin, a city once known for its infamous drug cartel and high violence rates, has recently implemented several different policy reforms that pushed forward economic development and urban inclusion and considerable contributed to a real transformation of the city. This development has mostly been attributed to the rise of the local politician Sergio Fajardo, who, at the head of a broad coalition of public, private and civil actors, could overcome traditional clientelistic interests and win the 2003 mayoral elections.

While the academic literature has described these institutional changes and the subsequently implemented transformative policy interventions as “municipal miracle”, there exists very little research explaining the economic features of this development. The thesis will try to fill this gap by looking at the economic impacts of the transformation on the one hand, and by systematically analysing the political economy of the institutional changes on the other.

The case study of Cali will be used for a comparative analysis of local urban policies in Colombia. While Medellin has made a remarkable and even internationally awarded urban development, the city of Cali, despite sharing similar historical aspects with Medellin, has experienced a decline in economic and social developments in the past decade. This comparative approach helps to understand future lessons for urban and regional economic development in other Colombian cities as well as other Latin American economies. Furthermore, the results obtained by this research are hoped to contribute to the discussion of alternative, growth-enhancing local governance that go beyond the notion of ‘good-governance’.

PhD Publications

Franz, Tobias (forthcoming): ‘Urban Governance and Institutional Economic Development in
Medellín: An “Urban Miracle”?’ Latin American Perspective.

  • Franz, Tobias (forthcoming): Illegal Drugs, Economic Development and Violence in Colombia
  • Franz, Tobias (2011). 'Über die (Un-)Möglichkeit nachhaltiger Wirtschaftspolitik in Madagaskar –Eine Analyse über ein verlorenes Jahrzehnt', Library of FES Madagascar.

PhD Conferences

  • Accepted Presentation: “Urban Governance and Institutional Economic Development in Medellín: An "Urban Miracle"?”  on the panel: “Practices of Governance in Unruly Cities” International Congress of the Latin American Studies Association (Chicago, IL), May 2014
  • Presentation: Illegal Drugs, Economic Development and Violence in Colombia, DSA Annual Conference (St Andrews, Scotland), 02. September 2013
  • Presentation: “Spatial And Financial Inclusion in Urban Colombia: The Case of Medellin”, Rethinking Urban Fringes in Medellin: alternative intervention models, National University of Colombia (Medellin, Colombia), March 2013


  • Latin American Studies Association
  • Development Studies Association


Economic Development, Institutions, Latin America, Colombia, Urban Economic and Institutional Development, (Urban) Poverty, Inequality, Violence and Conflict in LAC.