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Dr. Ron Kalafsky

Specialties: economic and urban geography; international trade; manufacturing; economic development; and geography education

Ron Kalafsky’s research interests comprise of two, interconnected elements: economic geography and geography education. The first component focuses on examining the competitive challenges and strategies of manufacturers, especially as they pertain to the differences between export-intensive firms and non-exporters located in industrialized economies. He is particularly interested in the location-based factors that hinder small-and-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from accessing global markets, and in turn, the strategies (e.g. trade fairs, onsite visits, business networks) that successful firms use to overcome such obstacles. In turn, he also examines export market choices for SMEs. Essentially, which countries do firms explore for their global expansion and how do they move beyond nearby or traditional markets? As a result, the above research also examines the roles that manufacturing and exporting can play in regional economic development. Recent research projects include studies of firms, industries, and policies in Canada, Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Contact Information

Dr. Ronald Kalafsky
Ph.D., State University of New York at Buffalo
Associate Vice Provost & Director of Honors & Scholars, Professor
316 Howard H Baker Jr Center
1640 Cumberland Ave.
Knoxville, TN 37996-0925
Phone: (865) 974-7875
Fax: (865) 974-6025

His second research focus, on geography education, is informed by the above work, basically centered on how to introduce and investigate central concepts in economic geography in introductory- and upper-level undergraduate coursework. Research on this topic has examined the ways in which students can analyze essential concepts and models through the use of online cases studies focused on advanced manufacturing, international trade, supply chains, and economic development. In turn, such explorations can illustrate the impacts of globalization at various scales.

Ron is the Associate Vice Provost & Director of Honors & Scholars. He is the former Head of the Department of Geography and offers courses such as: Geography of the Global Economy, Cities in a World System, and Emerging Landscapes of East Asia. He also serves on the faculty of the Asian Studies interdisciplinary program.