chapter  1
11 Pages

The study of urban competitiveness in the twenty-fi rst century

Introduction Twenty-fi ve years ago, the study of competitiveness was dominated by the notion that the nation was the proper subject of analysis and The Global Competitiveness Report (World Economic Forum) was the primary document that evaluated the competitiveness of nations. Michael Porter’s work (1990) supported this notion, although one prominent dissenter was Paul Krugman (1994, p. 34) who argued from the traditional economic position that it was the fi rm that was the center of competitiveness. Robert Reich (1990) wrote that: “‘National competitiveness’ is one of those rare terms of public discourse to have gone directly from obscurity; to meaninglessness without any intervening period of coherence.” Since he was referring to competitiveness at the level of the nation, the authors of this book see little that is objectionable. One of the authors of this book remembers approaching a major US foundation, which was advertising itself as the primary supporter of research on competitiveness, with a proposal for a study of urban competitiveness – only to be told that cities had nothing to do with competitiveness. Shortly thereafter the OECD had a conference on “Cities and the New Global Economy” and Urban Studies published the review issue on “Competitive Cities.” Cities had suddenly emerged as the primary locus of the reality of competitiveness.