Dr Thomas Sigler

Lecturer in Human Geography

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Faculty of Science
t.sigler@uq.edu.au
+61 7 336 53804

Overview

I am an economic and urban geographer interested in (a) how globalisation shapes cities, and (b) how cities and urban space are shaped by globalisation. The first of these themes focusses on ‘the global economy’ and how various firms, institutions, and industries are distributed across space. This incorporates both existing geographies as well as change over time, as the shifting global economy has dynamic consequences. The second of these focusses more concretely on cities and the dynamics within them. I supervise a broad range of MPhil and Phd projects, and have active collaborations with partners in Australia, North America, Europe, and East Asia.

My specific interests fall into the following thematic areas:

1. The resource economies of Australian cities. This project focusses on the ways in which Australian cities are embedded within broader economic networks. Though global in scope, these networks have very specific vectors connecting places based on the strategic advantages they deliver to firms and industries. This project takes data from corporate lists across multiple public directories and uses within-firm geographical structures to extrapolate larger geographic structures. These are then examined by industry, with a specific view to understand how resources firms – specifically energy and materials sectors – tie together Australian cities and overseas counterparts. Implications for spatial and economic planning are critical outcomes of this project. This is currently funded by the Australian Research Council through 2019.

2. The relational city. The relational city is one whose primary function is transitive rather than static. In other words, in contrast to an industrial city (which produces ‘things’), or a global city (whose importance is attributed to ‘command and control’ within hierarchical networks), relational cities’ core function is a bridging one. Relational cities are sites of convergence, incorporating logistical/transport functions, multicultural business environments, and often spanning multiple socio-political systems. The relational city theme is what connects my doctoral work in Panama to research on Dubai and Hong Kong, and most recently on Luxembourg.

3. Global property markets. Housing affordability in many cities has reached crisis levels. As housing, which is a fundamental human right, is transformed into a good for consumption, globalisation has altered many urban markets rendering accommodation a basic issue for local populations. To date neither geographical nor economic theory has adequately addressed the issue. I have a number of PhD students working on housing issues and continue to be interested in the property markets from theoretical and empirical perspectives.

4. Ethnic settlements and communities. Migration has rendered cities more diverse than ever. Migrants bring with them new perspectives and skillsets and create richness within the urban fabric. Furthermore, the children of migrants often share characteristics of their parents’ cultures, including religious, cultural, social, and linguistic practices. However, urban diversity is not universally perceived to be positive, as segregation can have negative effects. My interest in this research stream therefore stems from delineating between the benefits of urban ethnic diversity and the negative outcomes resulting from segregation. Australia is a particularly fruitful location for this research as its major cities are amongst the most diverse on earth.

5. The gig economy. This is a new interest of mine, but one that cannot be ignored by geographers for long. The advent of house-sharing and ride-sharing has afforded us greater mobility than ever, allowing you to immediately be ‘home’ in a new city or to have a personal driver at the push of a button. Practically, this has rationalised resources in what is referred to as the ‘sharing economy’, but in reality has brought with it a number of labour, ethical, and regulatory issues to which there is no black-and-white solution.

Research Interests

  • Global Cities
  • Sharing Economy
  • Economic Globalisation
  • Urban Morphology

Research Impacts

My work focusses on understanding the nature of contemporary urbanisation. I have published in a wide range of academic journals, including Urban Geography, Environment and Planning A, Urban Studies, Journal of Geography, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research (IJURR), and the Bulletin of Latin American Research. My aim is to always conduct germane reserach that has application to policy, and is useful to government and industry leaders.

Qualifications

  • Bachelor of Arts, University of Southern California
  • Master of Science, Pennsylvania State University
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Pennsylvania State University

Publications

View all Publications

Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Master Philosophy

  • Master Philosophy

View all Supervision

Available Projects

  • Uber, Airbnb and other digital applications have revolutionised the way we go about our daily lives. These 'disruptive' platforms have made it now possible to move from city to city using a handful of apps to seamlessly acquire a range of goods and services from one's phone using common digital payment systems. This has widespread implications for logistics, organised labour, job skilling, product delivery, and more. Students interested in this topic are welcome to work on a range of related topics, both theoretical and empirical, using data from one or more digital application or source. This project is available to potential PhD, MPhil, and Hons students.

View all Available Projects

Publications

Featured Publications

Book Chapter

  • Martinus, Kirsten and Sigler, Thomas (2016). Boomtown globalising: Perth as an international connected resource hub. In Sharon Biermann, Doina Olaru and Valerià Paül (Ed.), Planning boomtown and beyond (pp. 27-42) Perth, WA, Australia: UWA Publishing.

  • Albandoz, Roberto, Brothers, Tim, Dixon, Seth, Escamilla, Irma, Scarpaci, Joseph L. and Sigler, Thomas (2016). Cities of middle America and the Caribbean. In Stanley D. Brunn, Jessica K. Graybill, Maureen Hays-Mitchell and Donald J. Zeigler (Ed.), Cities of the world: regional patterns and urban environments 6th edition ed. (pp. 97-135) Lanham, MD, United States: Rowman & Littlefield.

  • Sigler, Thomas J. and Zhao, Simon X. B. (2016). Hong Kong as an offshore trading hub. In Bart Lambregts, Niels Beerepoot and Robert C. Kloosterman (Ed.), The local impact of globalization in South and Southeast Asia: offshore business processes in services (pp. 94-109) Abingdon, United Kingdom: Routledge.

  • Tang, Angelina Zhi Rou, Rowe, Francisco, Corcoran, Jonathan and Sigler, Thomas (2016). Spatial mobility patterns of overseas graduates in Australia. In Tom Wilson, Elin Charles-Edwards and Martin Bell (Ed.), Demography for planning and policy: Australian case studies (pp. 175-195) Cham, Switzerland: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-22135-9_10

Journal Article

Conference Publication

  • Wei, Ming, Liu, Yan and Sigler, Thomas J. (2015). An exploratory analysis of Brisbane’s commuter travel patterns using smart card data. In: Paul Burton and Heather Shearer, State of Australian Cities National Conference 2015: Refereed Proceedings. State of Australian Cities National Conference, Gold Coast, QLD, Australia, (). 9-11 December 2015.

  • Holz, Jessica L. and Sigler, Thomas J. (2015). Green urbanism in Australia: an evaluation of green building rating schemes. In: Paul Burton and Heather Shearer, State of Australian Cities National Conference 2015: Refereed Proceedings. State of Australian Cities National Conference, Gold Coast, QLD, Australia, (). 9-11 December 2015.

  • Sigler, Thomas (2015). One City, Many Networks: Brisbane’s Global Position within Multiple Flows. In: Paul Burton and Heather Shearer, State of Australian Cities Conference 2015: Refereed Proceedings. State of Australian Cities Conference, Gold Coast, Australia, (). 9-11 December 2015.

  • Sigler, Thomas (2013). Corporate clustering in Australian cities: an analysis of the geographic distribution of ASX-listed headquarters. In: Kristian Ruming, Bill Randolph and Nicole Gurran, State of Australian Cities Conference 2013: Refereed Proceedings. SOAC 2013: 6th State of Australian Cities Conference, Sydney, NSW, Australia, (1-12). 26-29 November, 2013.

  • Sigler, Thomas (2012). Globalising Australian cities: an overview. In: Paul Dalziel, Refrereed Proceedings of the 36th Annual Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Regional Science Association International. 36th Annual Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Regional Science Association International (ANZRSAI), Wollongong, NSW, Australia, (259-272). 5-7 December 2012.

Other Outputs

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Master Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Master Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

Possible Research Projects

Note for students: The possible research projects listed on this page may not be comprehensive or up to date. Always feel free to contact the staff for more information, and also with your own research ideas.

  • Uber, Airbnb and other digital applications have revolutionised the way we go about our daily lives. These 'disruptive' platforms have made it now possible to move from city to city using a handful of apps to seamlessly acquire a range of goods and services from one's phone using common digital payment systems. This has widespread implications for logistics, organised labour, job skilling, product delivery, and more. Students interested in this topic are welcome to work on a range of related topics, both theoretical and empirical, using data from one or more digital application or source. This project is available to potential PhD, MPhil, and Hons students.