Joshua Drucker joined the Department of Urban Planning and Policy in August of 2008 as an Assistant Professor. Prior to and during his academic studies, he was a research associate with the Technology Partnership Practice of the Battelle Memorial Institute in Cleveland, Ohio, engaging in technology-based economic development research and consulting. He also worked with the North Carolina Department of Commerce and the Southern Growth Policies Board on projects ranging from industry and impact studies and economic development strategies to analyses of technology policy and the development and programming of automated economic analysis tools. Originally from the Detroit area, he earned a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Economics from the University of Michigan and Masters and Ph.D. degrees in City and Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Drucker became a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners in 2002.
Drucker's interests center around the processes of regional economic development and transformation, seeking to understand phenomena of growth, decline, and adjustment in order to enable the design of policies to achieve and sustain positive economic outcomes. Currently, his research is focused in three main areas. The first investigates the factors external to the firm that help determine business and economic performance. The effects of the regional environment on business decisions and industry outcomes are important for interpreting and forecasting economic processes and for providing a mechanism for intentionally affecting economic trajectories. Drucker’s dissertation built upon theories of agglomeration and entrepreneurial competition to examine the impacts that concentration within regional industry sectors has upon the productivity of individual manufacturing establishments. His work continues to explore aspects of industrial structure at the regional scale and their relationships with economic activity.
A second line of research encompasses innovation, creativity, and knowledge: the ways in which knowledge is produced, the interactions among the actors and entities that create new ideas, and how these features relate to regional development. As the basis of science and technology, and the origin of new industries as well as the primary source of improvement in existing industries, knowledge and innovation are key in the transformation and development of modern economies. Drucker’s research in this area includes projects examining the intersection of creativity and human capital in economic development, the economic impacts of institutions of higher education, and the processes by which innovation takes place within and across firms.
Drucker is also interested in advancing methods of economic analysis useful for practitioners. He is currently engaged in a multi-year project assisting defense communities in the United States to gather and interpret economic and related data for the purposes of supporting planning efforts and increasing resiliency in the face of changes in military missions and other economic shocks. Approaches adapted to the technical, logistical, and methodological challenges involved in tracking trends and analyzing impacts in these rapidly changing communities can inform economic development analysis in a variety of practical contexts.