Professor Ivan Turok

I am an urban and regional economist and development planner. My research is mainly about the geography of economic development and the process of urbanisation. This means trying to understand the dynamics of production, places, people and human settlements in different contexts. I am also interested in what governments can do to strengthen city economies and to tackle the inequalities within and between regions.

Globalisation, technological change and pandemics have had uneven impacts on city-regions throughout the world. Some places have prospered and grown rapidly, while others have stagnated and declined. Governments can make a difference to the way that cities and neighbourhoods develop through their plans, policies, investment decisions and regulations. They can also do much to improve the living conditions and life chances of urban citizens.

Covid-19 has exposed the failure of public authorities in South Africa to overcome the legacy of colonialism and apartheid, and to transform urban development trajectories in a more integrated and inclusive direction. The country faces a major challenge to promote recovery in a way that literally ‘builds back better’.

Recent publications include: Transitions in Regional Economic Development (2018, Routledge); Value Chains in Sub-Saharan Africa (2019, Springer); and Restoring the Core: Central City Decline and Transformation in the South (Progress in Planning, 2020).

Public Engagement and External Positions

  • Editor, Area Development and Policy (2016- )
  • Editor, Development Southern Africa (2018- )

  • Editor-in-Chief, Regional Studies (2013-18)

  • Chair of the City Planning Commission for eThekwini Metro (2014-18)

  • Executive Director, Economic Performance and Development, HSRC (2014-20)

  • Honorary Professor, The University of Glasgow, UK (2010- )

  • Occasional adviser: United Nations, OECD, African Development Bank, UNECA

  • Member of Expert Panel, SA’s Integrated Urban Development Framework



Tel: +27 51 401 3825
Academic Advice:
EMS Applications:
EMS Appeals BFN (South and Bloemfontein)
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Economic faculty contact block

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