SOAS University of London

Department of Economics

Tobias Franz

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


Tobias Franz
Tobias Franz
Email address:
Thesis title:
From Industrial Capital to Modern ‘Urban Miracle’? The Political Economy of Governance, Growth and Development in Medellín, Colombia
Year of Study:
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PhD Research

In my research I engage with various approaches in the fields of political economy and institutional economics, including classical institutional theory and the new institutional economics. Theoretically, I examine different roles of institutions and organizations in reducing growth-constraining transaction costs and in maintaining political stability. Using a dynamic and non-linear political economy approach that studies efficiency and distributive functions of institutions, my research provides a context-specific understanding of how institutions affect the likelihood of implementing and enforcing policies that can achieve inclusive and sustainable levels of political and economic viability. The theoretical originality of my research resides in the analysis of how globalized networks and decentralized structures have changed the dynamics of traditional power structures and challenged standard ways of institutional rent management to create incentives and compulsions for growth and industrialization in less developed countries. Furthermore, using the findings obtained during my fieldwork in Colombia and Cuba, my research adds explanatory value to the empirical discussion of local level transformations in Latin America. I find that changes in balances of power, shifts in governance capacities of state agencies,and organizational and technological transformations of firm structures can have detrimental effects on the sustainability and inclusiveness of developmental trajectories of urban economies in Latin America.


  • Franz, Tobias (2016): Plan Colombia: Illegal Drugs, Economic Development, and Counterinsurgency – A Political Economy Analysis of Colombia’s Failed War. Development Policy Review, 2016, 34 (4): 563-591
  • Franz, Tobias (in press): Urban Governance and Local Economic Development in Latin America: The Case of Medellín. Latin American Perspective, Special Issue 2016, forthcoming
  • Franz, Tobias (in revision): Transnational Elites, Power, and Institutions – Governance and Growth in Urban Colombia. Journal of Institutional Economics


  • “Political settlements and economic development: a political economy analysis of institutional change and elites in regional Colombia”. World Interdisciplinary Network for Institutional Research, 2015 Conference Rio de Janeiro, September 2015
  • “Global Markets and Local States in Colombia – Transnational Capitalist Elites in the Context of Economic Liberalization and Political Decentralization”. Latin American Studies Association Congress 2015, Puerto Rico, May 2015
  • “The Political Economy of Crises, Conflicts, Institutional Change and Economic Development in Urban Colombia – The Case of Medellín”. International Initiative for Promoting Political Economy Conference, Naples, September 2014
  • “Urban Governance and Institutional Economic Development in Medellín: An ‘Urban Miracle’?”. Latin American Studies Association Congress 2014, Chicago, May 2014
  • “Illegal drugs, violence and economic development in Colombia”. Development Studies Association Scotland Conference, University of St. Andrews. September, 2013
  • “Financial and Spatial Exclusion in Colombian Urban Areas” at conference Rethinking Urban Fringes in Medellin: Alternative Intervention Models. National University of Colombia, Medellin. March, 2013


  • Latin American Studies Association
  • Development Studies Association
  • World Interdisciplinary Network for Institutional Research
  • International Initiative for Promoting Political Economy
  • Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung


  • Economics
  • Development Studies
  • Latin American Studies
  • Urban Studies
  • Economic Geography
  • Urban Planning
  • Political Economy