Planning Cities for the Future
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Planning Cities for the Future

The Successes and Failures of Urban Economic Strategies in Europe

Peter Karl Kresl

Planning Cities for the Future links the study of urban economic competitiveness with urban planning and is able to ascertain the crucial factors for success in this area of public policy. These factors include effective governance, leadership and monitoring of performance. The author also reveals how economic turbulence – macro-economic stagnation, the emergence of competitors such as China and Central Europe and the introduction of the euro for example – all have distinct impacts on the economic development of cities. He also suggests that today’s economic strengths may create tomorrow’s social pathologies, a fact which city planners must always keep in mind. Peter Kresl’s book offers examples of cities that got it right and others that did not.
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Chapter 3: The Economic and Geographic Analysis of Urban Competitiveness

Peter Karl Kresl


Geographers for decades have been analysing issues that are of central interest to city leaders who are endeavoring to direct the economic development of their urban economy. While their contributions have been invaluable and recognized as such in many parts of the world, in others, most prominently the United States, their voice has been a relatively silent one. The publication of books by two non-geographers did much to bring the concerns and models of geographers to the fore throughout the world, especially in the United States. The first was Michael Porter’s 1990 book, The Competitive Advantage of Nations.1 Coming from a Harvard Business School professor who used a methodology that was less central to what social science researchers used, this was not at all confrontational to geographers. Porter’s famous ‘diamond’ highlighted aggregate macro-economic and market demand conditions, factors of production, firm strategy, and local support activities and infrastructure, and was broad enough in its focus to allow everyone to make some attachment to it. The other seminal work, Paul Krugman’s Geography and Trade, was published in 1993.2 Geographers complained that there was little in this book they didn’t already know and hadn’t discussed for years, but the fact that a highly regarded mainstream economist from MIT gave a rigorous economic analysis of geographic concepts and models certainly elevated this literature in the minds of many researchers and city leaders. In spite of the initial reaction many geographers had to an economist intruding in their area of research, this book has...

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