Global City Makers
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Global City Makers

Economic Actors and Practices in the World City Network

Edited by Michael Hoyler, Christof Parnreiter and Allan Watson

Global City Makers provides an in-depth account of the role of powerful economic actors in making and un-making global cities. Engaging critically and constructively with global urban studies from a relational economic geography perspective, the book outlines a renewed agenda for global cities research. Focusing on financial services, management consultancy, real estate, commodity trading and maritime industries, the detailed studies in this volume are located across the globe to incorporate major world cities such as London, New York and Tokyo as well as globalizing cities including Mexico City, Hamburg and Mumbai.
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Chapter 9: Chasing the phantom of a ‘global endgame’: the role of management consultancy in the narratives of pre-failure ABN AMRO

Michiel van Meeteren and David Bassens

Abstract

This chapter examines the effects of advanced producer services on ABN AMRO’s corporate strategy leading up to the bank’s failure in 2007. Our historical reconstruction reveals how consultancy-inspired narratives about globalization, consolidation and shareholder value structured the bank’s geographies of risk and opportunity. Located in Amsterdam, a second-tier global city, ABN AMRO acted upon interpretations of a worldwide merger and acquisition craze that was framed as ‘the global endgame’. This narrative legitimized shareholder-value-inspired reorganizations and valuation metrics that contributed to the bank’s eventual demise. The chapter shows how multinational corporations, facing shareholder pressure, utilize strategic management consultancy narratives to legitimize their decisions to stakeholders. Yet, the bank’s eventual failure also illustrates the limits to the agency of global city makers such as bankers and consultants as this agency is constrained by credibility in financial markets and wider positionality in a system of financial centres.

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