Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Urban Economies
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Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Urban Economies

Edited by Peter Karl Kresl and Jaime Sobrino

In this timely Handbook, seventeen renowned contributors from Asia, the Americas and Europe provide chapters that deal with some of the most intriguing and important aspects of research methodologies on cities and urban economies.
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Chapter 2: Empirical approaches to urban competitiveness analysis

Peter Karl Kresl


Is there such a thing as urban competitiveness? Paul Krugman gained notoriety by stating that countries, and by extension regions and cities, do not compete with each other, only firms do. Places do not compete, according to Krugman, because they cannot go out of business. Roberto Camagni responded that they certainly do the equivalent, in that they can suffer long-term out-migration, stagnant investment, falling per capita incomes, and rising unemployment. In fact, there are many ghost towns, or the functional equivalent in most countries, not just in depleted mining regions but also in industrial regions which have been subject to de-industrialization, out-migration, abandonment and loss of competitiveness in all manners. Currently, in the US, Detroit may be headed in that direction. At a less elevated level of argument, we remember that Toronto and Atlanta both “competed” for the site of the Summer Olympics – Toronto lost and Atlanta won. More recently, New York, London, Madrid, Paris and Moscow were engaged in a similar exercise – and London was selected by the Summer Olympics selection committee. Chicago, Dallas and Denver all sought the headquarters of Boeing Aircraft – Chicago won and the others lost. So clearly there is something going on among cities that one can only call competition. To win these “competitions”, each city must struggle to enhance its “competitiveness”, that is, its ability to compete, in ways that are specific to the prize at hand – a site selection, a niche in the bio-technology industry, an airline hub, and so forth.

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