Journal Article

Was Adam Smith an economic geographer?


Economic geographers typically associate Adam Smith with the pin factory, the division of labour, and the ‘invisible hand’ of the market. We show that a closer reading of The Wealth of Nations reveals a much richer and broader range of ideas, which we illustrate by focusing on six themes: methodology, the role of physical geography and land in development, urban scale, institutions, commercial centres, and financial geography. On commercial centres, for example, Smith offers a vivid elaboration of what causes a ‘home bias’ in international trade. Similarly, in a largely neglected part of the book, Smith offers a thorough set of reflections as to what turned Amsterdam into the leading financial centre of Europe during the seventeenth century and eighteenth centuries. Overall, we argue that in all these themes and across them, Smith offers insights valuable to contemporary economic geography, making the Wealth of Nations worthy a place in an anthology of the discipline.

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Ioannou, Stefanos
Wójcik, Dariusz

Oxford Brookes departments

Oxford Brookes Business School


Year of publication: 2021
Date of RADAR deposit: 2021-10-14

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

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