New Horizons in Regional Science series
In this chapter we present seven case studies from Europe: Birmingham, UK; Liverpool, UK; Rennes, France; Lille, France; Freiberg, Germany; Tampere, Finland; and Rotterdam, the Netherlands. 8.1 8.1.1 BIRMINGHAM, UK Background: Adjustment Through Entrepreneurship and Strong Municipal Leadership Birmingham is Britain’s second largest city ‘Its history is dominated by two themes – its emergence as a great industrial city and a tradition of civic achievement unequalled by any other British city. These themes continue to dominate the city today’ (Loftman and Nevin, 1998: 130). Indeed, ‘Birmingham is regularly described as the most dynamic city in the world’ (p. 131). It is commonly known as a city which, over the years, has been able to provide strong and active municipal leadership, entrepreneurship and political pragmatism. That is, the city has a longstanding tradition of elected leaders, chief officers and political parties working together in the interest of Birmingham: ‘The persistence of this climate of co-operation sets Birmingham apart from other English major cities’ (ibid.). This tradition of enterprise and civic leadership can be traced back to the 1870s when Joseph Chamberlain was the mayor. During that time: ‘Birmingham gained an international reputation as being the best governed city in the world’ (ibid.: 132–3). In more recent years, Birmingham’s civic leaders have continued not only with the legacy of Chamberlain, but also with the history of municipal activism and political pragmatism (ibid.). 8.1.2 Vulnerability Throughout most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the economy of the city was based on manufacturing. However,...
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