8. What lies ahead? The previous chapters have made it clear that during the past 30 or so years we have entered into a new era of engagement and activism at the level of the city or the urban economy. In part this is due to the exigencies of the globalization process, and in part to the less interventionist or less intrusive postures that have been adopted by national and subnational governments. Technological change, freer trade and market liberalization have both given urban economies new possibilities for economic activity and made them more vulnerable to competition from counterparts thousands of miles away. Superior levels of government now do less to manage local economies than was earlier the case, and they have chosen to do less on behalf of negatively affected local constituencies. Whatever the cause, local authorities have become increasingly engaged in the activities we have detailed in this book: analysing their individual competitiveness, designing strategic plans for enhancement of that competitiveness, establishing initiatives in municipal diplomacy, creating new inter-urban structures, and restructuring municipal governance. City leaders in the public and private sectors recognize that their active engagement in these areas will be crucial and perhaps decisive in shaping the economic futures of their urban economies and in determining the degree to which their residents have economically satisfying or disappointing futures. MAJOR ISSUES CONFRONTING URBAN ECONOMIES IN THE NEAR FUTURE If anything, the coming quarter century promises to be one in which the pace of developments and the need for...
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