Academic journal article The Town Planning Review

Is Auckland an Entrepreneurial or Global City?1

Academic journal article The Town Planning Review

Is Auckland an Entrepreneurial or Global City?1

Article excerpt

Considerable debate has been generated in the literature surrounding the issue of competitive, global and entrepreneurial cities. The same literature has been less forthcoming with clear and concise definitions for these terms. Because of the effects of globalisation, we know that cities and regions have become the key focus of policies to enhance economic development. Few world cities can be classified as global and even fewer can be designated as entrepreneurial. Auckland, New Zealand's largest city, has developed a regional economic development strategy (AREDS) designed to 'raise the bar' and transform the greater Auckland region into a competitive, global entrepreneurial city. Is AREDS moving Auckland towards being a competitive entrepreneurial or global city? This paper reviews the relevant literature, defines the terms and delineates the requirements for a city to be competitive. Preliminary research indicates that movement has only just begun.

According to international academic and policy debates concerned with economic processes, cities and regions are surely on the rise. Globalisation is said to favour cities over other spatial entities based on their capacity to be nodes in global flows of economic resources (Castells, 1989; Ohmae, 1993). The particular roles and functions of cities which are part of global urban networks have become the research interest of the so-called 'global city' or 'world city' literatures (Friedmann, 1986; Sassen, 1991). In this strand of academic work the emphasis has moved from the description of attributable aspects of cities which command power within global hierarchies to interrogations of the many relational dimensions and interdependencies between cities (Taylor and Walker, 2002). However, little is revealed about the strategies and policy frameworks that cities deploy in order to affect their standing or engage with other places.

An early and often cited explanation of how city development and governance arrangements are changing under the influences of global forces was presented by David Harvey. He detected a shift from managerialism to entrepreneurialism in urban governance and sought to show 'how mechanisms of inter-urban competition shape outcomes and generate macro-economic consequences' (Harvey, 1989, 3). He observed the emergence of public-private partnerships as key urban actors, with their often speculative investments in place-based infrastructure as a means to re-insert cities in increasingly globalising accumulation circuits. More than a decade later, another seminal paper by Jessop and Sum (2000) took the 'Schumpeterian-based' concept of entrepreneurship further and expanded it to the whole city as a global-strategic actor. The authors coined the phrase 'glurbanisation' to emphasise the place- and space-based strategies of cities in global inter-urban competition. Both these articles acknowledge the increasing importance of entrepreneurship, innovation and lately creativity in the toolbox of urban actors in order to 'capture flows and embed mobile capital' (Jessop and Sum, 2000, 2296).

Another view of the relationship between globalisation and 'sub-national state' spatial entities is provided by the literature on 'new regionalism' (Amin and Thrift, 1995; Florida, 1995; Morgan, 1997). The focus on the region had originally been born out of the observed breakdown of old nation-state grounded Fordist production systems and the emergence of more flexible and more specialised systems of production often spatially concentrated in regions. This line of inquiry fell on fertile ground among British academics and policy makers who were wrestling with the theoretical and practical challenges of accounting for the revitalisation of less-favoured regions. This school of thought places importance on bottom-up engagement, local resources, strong mediating institutions, learning, tacit knowledge and actor-reflexivity as tools to generate local growth. The 'new regionalism'-informed policy approach rose to further prominence under the Blair government in the UK as it resonates well with general 'third way' notions of partnership, devolution and inclusion. …

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