Richard G. Shearmur

Professor and Director 

Ph.D., Université de Montréal 
M.U.P., McGill University
B.A, Cambridge University

Urbaniste/ Town Planner (membre de l’Ordre des Urbanistes du Québec)

Richard.shearmur [at]









Professional and research interests

Cities and firm-level innovation. Over the last few years I have been conducting research on where innovation takes place, how firms interact with their local and more distant environments in order to innovate, and what consequences firm-level innovation has on the local economy. This research raises some interesting, and more fundamental, questions relating to geographic concepts and ideas, which I am currently exploring such as:

  • Is it possible to locate an innovative agent or firm in space? Daily, weekly, migratory or travel-related mobility – not to mention the fact that many firms have multiple locations – mean that assigning one location to the innovator (and then attributing innovation to that location) is fraught with problems.

  • Given the rising normalisation and spread of internet and mobile communications, what is the connection that people, firms and innovators entertain with their immediate geographic surroundings (neighbourhood, city or region)?

  • Whilst endogenous development theory assumes that localities can develop by virtue of generating local dynamism that leads to innovation and to the growth of local firms, the fact that firms can move, can be bought up, or can open subsidiaries means that the connection between innovative local firms and local development is far from straightforward.

Innovative municipalities. It is not only private firms that innovate. Municipalities, small entities which have little control over their external environments – like SMEs – are faced with practical problems linked to their management of infrastructure, waste and local services. They often introduce innovative solutions to these problems following a process that is very similar to innovation in SMEs, but with important differences. Such innovation is not market driven – it is driven by problem-solving in view of serving the public – and can only really be evaluated by its degree of success in solving the problem. Whilst these innovation often diffuse across municipalities, there is no market for them: diffusion occurs through imitation. I have recently begun investigating this.

Urban and regional development. Much of my work has been on urban and regional economic development, with two particular emphases: the development of smaller towns and rural areas in Canada, and the intra-metropolitan development of large cities (i.e. the suburbanisation of jobs, job accessibility, the CBD and suburban centres). These two seemingly disparate areas of interest are in my mind intimately connected: there is no actual separation between urban and rural processes, and it is not possible to understand the urban without understanding rural and remote communities, nor to understand rural and remote communities without understanding metropolitan areas. My interest in economic development underpins my work on innovation and cities.

Measurement, data and knowledge. Whilst I am no epistemologist, questions of method, of measurement, and of how we acquire knowledge have become increasingly important, partly in the wake of the census debacle in Canada, and partly as a consequence of dominant (hegemonic?) narratives that seem to rest upon solid evidence. An example of this are the strong normative connotations associated with ‘innovation’, and the belief that encouraging it locally will lead to local development. In order to question these values and beliefs – which may or may not be justified – one must first fully understand their empirical basis: how measurement and data have been marshalled to create this apparent knowledge.

Real estate. This is a growing area of interest, that stems from a previous career – many years ago - as a chartered surveyor (property consultant). I am preparing a course on planning and real estate, and hope to further explore this in the coming years.


Ph.D. Dissertation

Employment growth in the Canadian Urban System 1971-1994: Factors and Policies


Publications (since 2011)


Doloreux, D. and R.Shearmur (forthcoming), Does the Geographic Distribution of Knowledge Intensive Business Services Affect the Use of Services for Innovation? Empirical Evidence from Quebec KIBS Manufacturers, in Ferreira, J., M.Raposo, C.Fernandes and M.Desjardins (eds), Knowledge Intensive Business Services and Regional Competitiveness, London: Routledge - accepted

Shearmur, R (forthcoming), Urban Bias in Innovation Studies, in Bathelt, H., P.Cohendet, S.Henn and L.Simon (eds), The Elgar Companion to Innovation and Knowledge Creation: A Multi-Disciplinary Approach, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar - accepted

Shearmur, R., C.Carrincazeaux and D.Doloreux (eds), forthcoming Autumn 2016, Handbook on the Geographies of Innovations, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar

Shearmur, R. and V.Poirier, 2016, Conceptualizing Nonmarket Municipal Entrepreneurship: Everyday Municipal Innovation and the Roles of Metropolitan Context, Internal Resources, and Learning, Urban Affairs Review, DOI: 10.1177/1078087416636482

Shearmur, R. and D.Doloreux, 2016, How open innovation processes vary between urban and remote environments: slow innovators, market-sourced information and frequency of interaction, Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, DOI: 10.1080/08985626.2016.1154984

Doloreux, D., R.Shearmur and M.Rodriguez, 2016, Determinants of R&D in knowledge-intensive business services firms, Economics of Innovation and New Technology, DOI: 10.1080/10438599.2015.1067001


Shearmur, R., C.Garrocho, J.Alvaraz & T.Chavez, 2015, Hacia una geografia de las actividades economicas en la Ciudad de Mexico: métodos, conceptos, cultura et subjetividad, in Geografia aplicada en Iberamerica: Avances, restos y perspectivas, editied by C.Garrocho and G.Buzai, Toluca: El Colegio Mexiquense, 431-73 (came out early 2016)

Shearmur, R. and D.Doloreux, 2015, Central places or networks? Paradigms, metaphors, and spatial configurations of innovation-related service use, Environment and Planning A, 47, 1521-39

Shearmur, R., 2015, Dazzled by Data: Big Data, the Census and Urban Geography (editorial), Urban Geography, 36.7, 965-968

Rodriguez, M., D.Doloreux and R.Shearmur, 2015, Innovation strategies, innovator types and openness: A study of KIBS firms in Spain, Service Business, DOI 10.1007/s11628-015-0286-x

Shearmur, R. and D.Doloreux, 2015, KIBS use and innovation: high-order services, geographic hierarchies and internet use in Quebec’s manufacturing sector, Regional Studies, 49.10, 1654-71

Doloreux, D. R.Shearmur and R.Guillaume, 2015, Collaboration, (transferable and non-transferable) knowledge and innovation: a study of cool climate wine industry (Canada), Growth & Change, 46.1, 16-37

Ding, X., W.Zhong, R.Shearmur, Z.Zhang and D.Huisingh, 2015, An inclusive model for assessing the sustainability of cities in developing countries ‘Trinity of Cities' Sustainability from Spatial, Logical and Time Dimensions (TCS-SLTD), Journal of Cleaner Production, DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2015.06.140

Shearmur, R., 2015, Strategic Role in Development, The International Encyclopedia of Geography: People, the Earth, Environment, and Technology, New York: Wiley and AAG: Washington DC (forthcoming)

Shearmur, R., D.Doloreux and A.Lapierre, 2015, Is the degree of Internationalisation Associated with the use of Knowledge Intensive Services or with Innovation? International Business Review, 24.3, 457-465

Shearmur,R., 2015, Far from the Madding Crowd: Slow Innovators, Information Value and the Geography of Innovation, Growth & Change, 46.2, 424-442


Poulin, P-O. and R.Shearmur, 2014, Quartiers durables et pôles d’emploi : vers des navettes plus courtes et moins polluantes? Une analyse de Montréal, 1998-2008, Cahiers de Géographie du Québec, 58.163, 59-91 (appeared in 2015)

Bonnet-Gravois, N., and R.Shearmur, 2014, Quel rôle réel pour les réseaux de firmes dans l’innovation locale? Une analyse des bassins d’emplois canadiens durant la période 1997-2005, Revue d’Économie Régionale et Urbaine, 2014.1, 121-54

Polèse, M., R.Shearmur et L.Terral, 2014, La France Avantagée : Paris et la Nouvelle Économie des Régions, Paris : Odile Jacob

Shearmur, R., 2014, Diplômes et croissance économiques: quelques chainons manquants, in Vultur, M. (ed) La surqualification au Québec et au Canada, Québec : Presses de l’Université Laval, pp245-272

Plassard, M. and R.Shearmur, 2014, SFIC et innovation : Les dynamiques géographiques de l’innovation à Québec, Canadian Geographer, 58.2, 244-262

Aubin-Beaulieu, J., M-S.Cloutier et R.Shearmur, 2013, Accessibilité à des Opportunités d’Emploi pour les Populations Défavorisées : Quel est le Portrait pour Montréal, Laval et Longueil?, Canadian Journal of Regional Science, 36.1, 1-12 (paru Octobre 2014)


Shearmur, R., 2013, What is an Urban Structure? in Garrocho, C. (ed), Advances in Commercial Geography, Toluca: El Colegio Mexiquense, 95-142

Shearmur, R., 2013, Le triomphe des métropoles? Et si l’innovation métropolitaine n’était qu’un mythe?, in Klein, J-L. et R.Guillaume (eds), Vers une nouvelle géographie économique, Québec : Presses de l’Université du Québec, 93-126

Shearmur, R., 2013, Étudier la Géographie de l’Innovation: Pourquoi, Comment et Perspectives, Compendium d’indicateurs de l’activité scientifique et technologique au Québec : Edition 2013, Québec : Institut de la statistique du Québec, 31-50

Doloreux, D. and R.Shearmur 2013, Innovation Strategies: Are Knowledge Intensive Business Services Just Another Source of Information? Industry and Innovation, 20.8, 719-738

Shearmur, R., 2013, Que reste-t-il de la classe créative?, Nouveau projet, 2013.3

Shearmur, R. and D.Doloreux, 2013, Innovation and KIBS: The Contribution of KIBS to Innovation in Manufacturing Establishments, Economics of Innovation and New Technology, 22:8, 751-774, DOI:10.1080/10438599.2013.786581

Shearmur, R, L.Terral and M.Polèse, 2013, La géographie de la croissance d’emploi en France à l’aune de processus Nord-Américains: vers une théorisation du contexte, Cybergeo, article 631,


Shearmur, R., 2012, Producer Services, in Warf, B. (ed), Oxford Bibliographies in Geography New York: Oxford University Press,

Chenard, P. and R.Shearmur, 2012, Immigration, Attraction or Retention? Some Determinants of Local Human Capital change in Canada, Canadian Journal of Urban Research, 21.1, 79-108

Doloreux, D. and R.Shearmur, 2012, How much does KIBS Contribute to R&D Activities of Manufacturing Firms?, Economia Politica, 29.3, 319-42

Shearmur, R., 2012, Montréal 1950-2010 : la métamorphose de l’économie spatiale, Fougères, D. (ed), Histoire de Montréal et de sa Région, Québec : Presses de l’Université Laval, 1005-38

Shearmur, R., 2012, La Géographie des Comportements d’Innovation au Québec, Revue d’Économie Régionale et Urbaine, 2012.4, 623-48

Shearmur, R., 2012, Le passé au présent : structures et institutions de l’économie de l’agglomération Montréal, in Gillio, N. et E.Rallet, Comprendre l’économie des territoires, Lyon : Certu, collection Références 126, 156-165

Shearmur R., 2012, Are cities the font of innovation? A critical review of the literature on cities and innovation, Cities, 29.2, S9-S18

Shearmur, R., 2012, The geography of intra-metropolitan KIBS innovation: distinguishing agglomeration economies from innovation dynamics, Urban Studies, 49.11, 2331-56 , doi: 10.1177/0042098011431281

Shearmur, R., 2012, Not being there: why local innovation is not (always) related to local factors, in Westeren, K. (ed), Foundations of the Knowledge Economy: Innovation, Learning and Clusters, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 117-139

Doloreux, D. and R.Shearmur, 2012, Collaboration, Information and the Geography of Innovation in Knowledge Intensive Business Services, Journal of Economic Geography, 12.1, 79-105

Doloreux, D., R.Guillaume and R.Shearmur, 2011, Production et diffusion de l’innovation dans les régions satellites: l’exemple du Québec, Revue d’Économie Régionale et Urbaine, 2011/5, doi : 10.3917/reru.115.0849.

Motte-Baumvol, B., Belton-Chevalier, L. and R.Shearmur, 2011, Differences de genre et formes de dépendances des conjoints biactifs dans l’accompagnement des enfants, Géographie, Économie et Société, 13.2, 189-206


Bourne, L., T.Hutton, R.Shearmur and J.Simmons (eds), 2011, Canadian Urban Regions: Trajectories of Growth and Change, Oxford: Oxford University Press

Shearmur, R. and T.Hutton, 2011, Canada’s Changing City Regions: The Expanding Metropolis, in Bourne, L., T.Hutton, R.Shearmur and J.Simmons (eds), 2011, Canadian Urban Regions: Trajectories of Growth and Change, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 99-124

Shearmur, R. and N.Rantisi, 2011, Montreal: Rising Again from the Same Ashes, in Bourne, L., T.Hutton, R.Shearmur and J.Simmons (eds), 2011, Canadian Urban Regions: Trajectories of Growth and Change, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 173-201

Shearmur, R. and N.Bonnet, 2011, Does Local Technological Innovation Lead to Local Development?, Regional Science Policy and Practice, 3.3, 250-70

Shearmur, R., 2011, Innovation, Regions and Proximity: From Neo-regionalism to Spatial Analysis, Regional Studies, 45.9, 1225-44

Shearmur, R., 2011, Innovation et développement territorial: L’innovation comme processus (presque) a-territorial, Bulletin des Sciences Géographiques de Liège, 55, 17-27

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