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urban entrepreneurialism

  The promotion of local economic development by urban governments in alliance with private capital and unions (cf. regional class alliance; governance). Urban area governments have typically played restricted roles in the promotion of their local economy involving only the provision of physical infrastructure plus small amounts of advertising. With the shift from Fordism to flexible accumulation during the crisis of the 1970s and 1980s, however, local governments have been impelled to extend away from their managerial role and functions within the welfare state (cf. dual theory of the state; urban managers and gatekeepers) and to adopt \'more initiatory and … “entrepreneurial” … forms of action\' (Harvey, 1989, p. 4), a common trend throughout the advanced capitalist world.

Central to urban entrepreneurialism is the concept of \'public-private partnerships\' through which public money is used as leverage to attract private investment to an area. This process is encouraged by national governments, as with the Development Corporations established in the UK to promote economic regeneration in depressed areas (such as the Liverpool and London Dockland Development Areas), though outside local government control. Such bodies are known in the UK as QUANGOS (quasi-autonomous non-governmental organizations) which are not democratically accountable to the local population; they are playing an increasing role in the restructuring of labour markets as well as environmental regeneration and the attraction of inward investment.

Urban entrepreneurialism (often termed \'urban boosterism\' in the USA) involves local governments and related bodies competing for economic growth. To promote their cities\' comparative advantages, many become involved in image-development and image-enhancement strategies, exemplified by major investments in leisure facilities and \'world events\', such as the Seville World Fair, the Barcelona Olympic Games in 1992, and the Millennium Dome at Greenwich in London\'s Docklands (see spectacle, geography of). These are promoted as potential profit-making activities (as with the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles), but many make losses, and leave the local population with large long-term debt repayments to be met from local taxes, as with the 1991 Universiade (incorporating the World Student Games) in Sheffield. As more cities invest in such facilities and events, so the competitive edge that they gain is increasingly transitory and the public debt can grow while mobile capital rapidly moves on to reap the advantages of new partnerships elsewhere: as Harvey points out, the outcome may be that the public sector takes the risks while the private sector reaps the benefits. (RJJ)

Reference Harvey, D. 1989: From managerialism to entrepreneurialism: the transformation in urban governance in late capitalism. Geografiska Annaler 71B: 3-17.

Suggested Reading Bennett, R.J., ed., 1990: Decentralization, local government and markets: towards a post-welfare agenda. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Cox, K.R. 1998: Spaces of dependence, spaces of engagement and the politics of scale, or: looking for local politics. Political Geographer 17: 1-24. Cox, K.R. and Mair, A.J. 1988: Locality and community in the politics of local economic development. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 78: 307-25. Hausner, V.A. ed., 1986: Critical issues in urban economic development, Volume 1. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Logan, J.R. and Molotch, H.L. 1987 : Urban fortunes: the political economy of place. Berkeley: University of California Press. Mars ton, S.A., ed., 1990: Review symposium. Urban Geography 11: 176-2 08. Seyd, P. 1990: Radical Sheffield: from socialism to entrepreneurialism. Political Studies 38: 325-4 4.



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