Steffen Wetzstein

Dr, PhD Auck.

  • The University of Western Australia (M257), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


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Personal profile


Originally from Germany, Steffen draws on ten years of professional experience in academic research and teaching as well as socio-economic policy focused work in New Zealand and Australia. He was awarded a PhD from the University of Auckland in 2007 on the topic of Auckland’s economic development in a globalising and neoliberalising world. He has worked as lecturer in Urban and Economic Geography at Wellington’s Victoria University and is currently Assistant Professor in Human Geography at the University of Western Australia. He is broadly interested in questions of urban and economic governance, political economy, political representation of business interests, urban liveability as well as the processes of globalisation generally and their impact on people and places. He is actively involved in policy-focused research for the business organisation “Committee for Perth”, a self-declared promoter of, and change agent for, the metropolitan region of Perth/Australia. Steffen also draws on valuable professional experience in engineering, commercial and consulting roles in Germany and New Zealand.

Future research

• Interrogating institutional competition between economic growth and sustainability objectives on urban/regional scales
• Critical work on ‘corporate university’ theme
• Perth before the next boom: Liveability challenges, current interventions, possible futures
• Comparative work on urban economic governance

Funding overview

• University of Auckland Faculty of Science Bursary Award (2002); NZ $ 2,000

• University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship (2003-2005); NZ$ 20,000 p.a.

• Travel Award to residential conference of the IGU’ commission on the Dynamics of Economic Spaces, Birmingham (2004); Approx. NZ $ 1,000

• Auckland Branch New Zealand Geographical Society, Grant-in-aid for student attendance at International Geography Union conference, Brisbane (2006); NZ $ 500

• Building Research Capacity in the Social Sciences (BRCSS) Doctoral Research Award (2006); NZ $ 10,000

• Australia New Zealand Regional Science Association International (ANZRSAI) Best Paper Award 2006-2007 for paper “Managing for a Prosperous Auckland? Critical Reflections on Regional Interventions for growing New Zealand’s Economic Centre”, "Sustaining Regions", Volume 6, Number 1 (2007); Approx. NZ $ 200

• Faculty of Science Grant (Victoria University of Wellington, Grant ID 33709) supporting “Research support/editorial assistance for developing/publishing two academic articles”; Guidance and Supervision of two Research Assistants (Masters Students) (2007/2008); NZ $ 5,400

• Victoria University of Wellington New Researchers’ Grant (Grant ID 8-1620-83192-2156) on “Wellington’s Economic Development: Policy Challenges and Institutional Responses under Neoliberalism”; guidance and supervision of one research assistant (Post-Doctoral Researcher) (2008); NZ $ 5,142

• University of Western Australia, Research Development Awards 2010 (2010); A$ 7,000

• Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) Research Development Fund Programm “Globalising Geographies of Research” - Early Career Associate/ UWA WUN collaborator (2011):
University of Western Australia WUN-Research Development Fund (A$ 1000);
UWA-School of Earth and Environment WUN-project support (A$ 1500);
WUN-Research Development Award Support (University of Bristol) (approx. A$500)

Teaching overview

I have been teaching on undergraduate and post-graduate level at three universities in New Zealand and Australia in urban, economic and social geography, urban studies, regional development and urban planning. I am currently the sole course-coordinator and sole lecturer for the Stage 3 Geography unit EART 3332 “Social Geography and Planning”. In 2011, this unit will become a stage 2 unit (PLNG 2202).

I am currently supervising five Masters and Honours/4th year students on topics related to liveable, vibrant and sustainable cities. The empirical focus is on Perth and other Australasian cities.


My research involves the study of the governance/ management of cities and regions in our globalising age. The central emphasis is on knowledge production that can both deal with the complexities of the world by being sensitive to particular conditions and context, and is relevant to people and societies by making alternative futures thinkable. My research experiences lie mainly in Australia and New Zealand, but I am trying to actively incorporate other places such as Singapore, Germany and the United Kingdom in my increasingly comparative research focus.
Major Research Interests in Detail:
• Globalising economic governance on urban/regional scales and the role of spatial imaginaries, spatial referencing techniques and other discursive practices
• State - Business relations and Business Political Representation in sub-national governance
• Political economy analyses, neoliberalisation and alternative political-economic processes
• Urban liveability and sustainability, institutional changes and effects on investment processes
• Knowledge production in-between academy and policy
• Context-sensitive comparative work on urban/regional governance
• Globalising Geographies of Research and Higher Education


Three languages; German (mother tongue)
English (fluent level)
Russian (intermediate level)

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities

Education/Academic qualification

Human Geography, PhD, Economic Governance for a Globalising Auckland? Political Projects, Institutions and Policy, The University of Auckland

Award Date: 7 May 2007

Engineering , MSc / Diplomingenieur, Wärmetransport durch Schornsteine, Technische Universität Dresden

Award Date: 7 May 1993

External positions


2 Sept 201915 Aug 2022

Joint Working Group Coordinator 'Policy and Research' , European Network for Housing Research (ENHR)

1 Oct 2017 → …

Industry keywords

  • Government
  • Built Environment
  • Education
  • Tourism
  • Social and Welfare Issues
  • Finance and Business

Research expertise keywords

  • Human geography
  • Urban geography
  • Economic geography
  • Social geography and planning
  • Political economy
  • Urban planning
  • Sustainable development


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