Urban Competitiveness and Innovation

Urban Competitiveness and Innovation

Edited by Pengfei Ni and Zheng Qiongjie

Against the backdrop of today’s climate of economic globalization and the rapid development of information, this timely book explores the complex concept of competitiveness between cities. The expert contributors illustrate that innovation is a prerequisite for increasing urban competitiveness, and highlight the various ways that urban innovation-based competitiveness can be approached.

Chapter 9: Competition and cooperation between cities in globalization

Peter J. Taylor

Subjects: economics and finance, economics of innovation, public sector economics, urban economics, innovation and technology, economics of innovation, urban and regional studies, urban economics


Inter-city relations are usually assumed to be competitive in nature: there is a large literature on ëcompetitive citiesí. The purpose of this chapter is to argue that this is not a useful way to approach the question of inter-city relations. The source of the competitive presumption appears to be twofold. First, the prime ëtheoryí that has generally been used for understanding inter-city relations is central place theory as expanded into national urban system models (Berry and Horton, 1970). The resulting ënational urban hierarchiesí were interpreted as inter-city competition. This was directly translated into global-scale studies by Friedmann (1986) as ëworld city hierarchyí, which he subsequently argued encompassed enhanced city competitive processes (Friedmann, 1995). His 1986 diagram of the ëworld city hierarchyí was reproduced in several forms for the next two decades (Taylor, 2004). In addition, the argument for competition was further bolstered by Sassenís (2001) hugely influential work on global cities, special cities astride the top of worldwide urbanization. Second, there has been a strand of thought that has cities challenging, and perhaps ultimately replacing, states as a result of contemporary globalization (for example, Knight and Gappert, 1989). In this view, cities are encompassed in ëinternational relationsí thinking with city mayors taking on the traditional competitive role of state presidents/prime ministers. A new political purpose is given to city governments: to devise plans to make their city a successful world or global city at the expense of rival cities.

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