Competition and competitiveness in urban policy

To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the author.


Urban policy is increasingly affected by the shift towards a perspective which emphasises competition and the competitive position of cities, both nationally and internationally. This is evident in the City Challenge competitions for government funding, and the contest for private sector inward investment. Cities are marketing their local advantages and their distinctive character as places, but it is unclear whether the results are really helping the most needy groups, or that a lasting formula for regeneration has been found.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the author.

... Competitive bidding chimes with the ethos of neoliberalism, as the logic of market competition and economic efficiency determines the allocative outcome, and because a culture of enterprise and winning is encouraged at the expense of egalitarianism (Taylor et al., 2001). In urban regeneration, one or more national agencies are often on the purchasing side, while local partnerships spanning the public-private sector divide are usually the supply side actors (Stewart, 1996). Neoliberal regimes, for example in the UK and the US, aimed to 'change the nature of urban governance by encouraging local authorities to change the way they operated, to become more entrepreneurial, more open to partnership and working across department and agency boundaries' (Oatley, 1995:8). ...
Full-text available
The academic literature on urban policy and planning which explicitly links to neo-liberalism is huge. The paper systematises much of this literature from the period 1990 to 2010, with an emphasis on journals of urban planning, urban geography, and urban studies. Neo-liberal urban policies are engendered by the nexus between mobile investment capital, inter-city competition, and public entrepreneurialism. Fourteen planning-related policies are described, and their neo-liberal rationales are explained. Typical planning concerns are outlined for each policy. The paper ends by spelling out the challenges that the neo-liberal urban policies pose to public planning.
... Urban localities may be regarded as " products " in the sense that they provide labor, land, premises and industrial infrastructures to businesses (Stewart, M., 1996); while offering housing, shopping, leisure and other amenities, and a social milieu to residents (Barke and Harrop, 1994.) Increasingly, moreover, cities and places within them compete against each other to attract new investment, tourists and visitors, (Ashworth and Voogd, 1990; Kanter, 1995; Warnaby, 1998). ...
Full-text available
An urban regeneration program that changes fundamentally the character of a district typically involves the rebranding of the area concerned. This may be highly controversial because the redevelopment might result in the importation of financially well off residents, business infrastructures, and cultural and leisure facilities more suited to better off people than to poorer pre-existing inhabitants (who might be driven out by rising property prices and rents). This article presents the results of an investigation into the place rebranding processes of nine urban regeneration units in three countries: Britain, Denmark and the USA. The study examined, inter alia, the organization of rebranding activities, how basic decisions regarding a place's new brand identity were taken, whether integrated marketing communications were employed, consultation procedures, and the major problems that arose. A remarkable degree of consistency across the nine units' vis-à-vis the approaches towards and methods used for place rebranding was observed. Common problems seemingly invoked similar responses.
... Big cities have the power to absorb the interests of many. But today cities have in the increasingly global and networked world found themselves in competition with other cities (Bennett & Nathanson, 1997;Chevrant-Breton, 1997;Stewart, 1996). Competition between city regions occurs nationally in areas such as governmental funding of sustainable development efforts (Bergström & Dobers, 2000) and internationally in areas of tourism and corporate inward investments (Kotler, Haider & Rein, 1993). ...
This chapter discusses a current example of the ongoing efforts of city managers to promote their cities, also known as place marketing or place selling. After introducing the concept of city branding, and a model of how Web site elements communicate brand values and messages, we analyze a recent attempt of city managers in Stockholm to promote the brand of "Stockholm: The Capital of Scandinavia". The authors hope that the empirical illustrations of how city managers of Stockholm have worked to provide a broader understanding to the complex Web of communication and brand building on the Internet, both empirically and conceptually.
... The creation of an attractive civic image is not only for the aesthetic pride and experiential satisfaction of its residents, but also to facilitate public and corporate interest, investment and activity (Robertson and Wardrop, 2003). Viewed in this context, the city is essentially a product (Hoffman, Scheiderjans and Flynn, 1996;Stewart, 1996) that must seek to satisfy its complex market (Barke & Harrop, 1994). Lipton (1996) argued that the image and identity of a city should be taken as an amalgam of residential, commercial, recreational and leisure components, stressing that cities exist as places to "live, shop, work and enjoy urban life" (p. ...
... Ward, 2003). Also the traditional marketing-theory has been consulted in the form of Philip Kotler's "Marketing Management" (Kotler, 1997) as well as the conceptualisation of competition has been qualified using the "The Competitive Advantage of Nations" (Porter, 1990) along with more critical views on the competitiveness-regime (Bristow, 2005;Cox, 1995;Jessop, 1998b;Justman, Thisse, & van Ypersele, 2005;Stewart, 1996) followed by general critique on the neo-liberal discourse below the rising importance of 'entrepreneurialism' and 'competition' in public sector institutions (Syngedouw, Moulaert, & Rodriguez). ...
Full-text available
The research presented in this study is concerned with the increased application of marketing-theory and -practice to the scene of the city. The study presents a brief assessment of the available theory in the scientific literature, along with a definition and an operationalization of the concept of city marketing. Further, three casestudies are presented using policy-documents, advisory reports, key-informant interviews and the observations on the three cases are related to the fundamental logic behind city marketing, referring to inter-urban competition and other dominating developments. City marketing as a feature of contemporary urban governance for middle-sized cities is explored using the cases of Almere, Amersfoort and Leiden – all middle-sized cities located in the Netherlands, representing one of the densest urban agglomerations in Europe. The conclusions of the study allow stating some inconsistencies between the fundamental logic behind city marketing and the way in which it can be observed in the three cities. Further, it was concluded that no standardised approach to city marketing is likely to be effective and that the application of marketing-theory and -practice is a complex exercise where traditional codes of conduct are challenged by a more demand-side form of urban governance.
... In some countries, notably the UK, competition has, in turn, become a feature of policy-making through bidding systems such as City Challenge. Whether or not these shifts in philosophy provide lasting benefits either for needy groups or for the overall regeneration of cities is a question that concerns some commentators (Stewart, 1996). ...
Improved competitiveness, as we all know, is the path to economic nirvana. Plainly, it is a sought after property of any economy: the term trips frequently off the lips of politicians and commentators on economic and business matters. As cities increasingly engage in competition with one another at different levels, the determinants of competitive advantage are coming under intense scrutiny. Many
Governments think they can improve policies and get better value for money by asking organizations to bid for programs or funds rather than allocating them according to objective measures of need. This article seeks to evaluate this form of competitive bidding by exploring whether competition improved bid quality in England's Single Regeneration Budget program. After reviewing the main theoretical accounts, we argue that competition only exists at the margins where groups that would not otherwise get funded may move away from the sort of project they most wanted. Groups that wanted to carry out projects that the government finds valuable anyway will generally not have to compete with each other, and many other groups could have put in lower-quality bids to get the benefits of participation in the process. Using data from four years of the program, we show that there were some gains but that they were not great.
The new product development (NPD) activities of 14 not-for-profit urban regeneration organisations in three cities (London, Copenhagen and Boston) were examined to establish the degree to which they reflected the best practices recommended by the academic NPD literature in the for-profit field. Executives in each organisation were questioned about the stages of the NPD process that they activated most intensively, relationships between marketing staff and technical urban development specialists, mechanisms for consulting end users of place products, methods for generating new ideas and the major problems they experienced. Parallels between the NPD behaviour of nonprofit urban regeneration organisations managing projects involving widespread change and that previously observed among for-profit organisations engaged in the development of radically new products were investigated. Copyright © 2004 Henry Stewart Publications
This article discusses research conducted on locality management and proposes a generic model for skills development for this and other enabling roles. Improving codified knowledge in relation to managing at a spatial, rather than at a thematic, level is particularly important as the new UK government takes office. A sound approach in moving forward in more financially-constrained times requires a thorough and balanced assessment of the learning achieved during more prosperous and proactive periods.
This study explored the processes and influences that helped determine the promotional imagery employed by a number of urban regeneration partnerships in London and New York. Although the degrees of ethnic and cultural diversity in the districts considered were broadly comparable, such diversity was given greater prominence in New York than in London. Partnerships that depended heavily on wider governmental economic development agencies selected promotional imagery that focused solely on attracting business investment, without mention of the ethnic/cultural heterogeneity of the area concerned. Marketing was seen as an important and valuable activity, but was generally regarded as an operational rather than a strategic function.
Full-text available
This article synthesizes the cross-disciplinary literature on city competitiveness published in the past three decades to bring attention to competitiveness as a key topic for public administration and local government performance. We systematically reviewed research regarding city competitiveness, its measurement, and its antecendents. Subsequently, to explore the link between local governments and competitiveness, we articulated multiple perspectives to investigate this connection, concluding that while the relationship between government and city competitiveness is still not entirely settled and results are far from consistent, the progress made to date charts a course for future research that centres on public administration contributions.
The study examines the management of competitive funding by UK local authorities. This funding, which is additional to core funding, is seen by authorities to be worth securing because it gives them the ability to provide services over and above those that must be provided to meet legislative requirements. However the evidence shows that considerable pressures are being placed upon local authorities as a result. These can be distinguished according to whether they are outside a local authority’s control, such as lateness of approval notification, or within their control, such as the provision of bidding activity cost information. Whilst competition remains as a feature of resource allocation, these pressures must be addressed by external agencies and local authorities as appropriate. The article concludes with a series of proposals for improved practice.
Twenty years after the publication of the seminal 1977 White Paper on the inner cities, the promise of a more coordinated and strategic approach to urban policy still remains to be realised. This paper addresses the issue of why British urban policy has been characterised by a form of 'policy amnesia' - a failure to learn from past experiences. In arguing for the importance of policy learning and adaptation, the paper identifies 10 key lessons that emerge from the operation of urban policy since the late 1970s.
'Drawing from contributions by scholars of entrepreneurship from North America, Western Europe and Asia, this edited book celebrates the vibrancy and interdisciplinarity of entrepreneurship research. It showcases the renewed importance of entrepreneurship studies in the social sciences. New Movements in Entrepreneurship is a tour de force in entrepreneurship studies that must not be missed. It's bold in its claims, exciting in its suggestions for new directions, and provocative in its call for a new intellectual movement - all essential ingredients of entrepreneurship itself! Practitioners, students and researchers of entrepreneurship will look back in many years' time and thank Steyaert and Hjorth for putting up a superb collection. I strongly recommend it to any creative individuals who are interested in how the entrepreneurial world really works.' - Henry Wai-chung Yeung, National University of Singapore. 'Hjorth and Steyaert have succeeded in compiling a volume that is "mainstream" enough to appeal to entrepreneurship scholars both in North America and Europe, yet different enough to provoke and make a contribution. The authors include some of the most prominent scholars on both sides of the Atlantic, and they provide fresh views on several "hot topics" in contemporary research such as a process view on entrepreneurship research; the opportunity concept; the role of the individual; the importance of knowledge and asymmetric information, as well as ethnic and international entrepreneurship.' - Per Davidsson, Jönköping University, Sweden. At last, a book that focuses on trendsetting thinking and research in the field of entrepreneurship and sets an agenda for current and future movements in the field.
The Enterprising City Centre reveals exemplars of local partnership working, the development and delivery of realistic implementation plans, and the range of instruments available to create both an improved quality to the urban environment and enhanced commercial and cultural competitiveness of our major city centres. That this was largely delivered in Manchester within a five year period of intensive development and renewal activity amply demonstrates the value of such experience for wider dissemination.
The fragmentation of urban instutitional structures and the dilution of the capacity to deliver policy objectives have been superseded by a Single Regeneration Budget which emphasises partnership and competition between localities for ressources. Current policy emphasises the capacity to deliver programmes on the ground, a requirement for multi-organisational partnership, the emergence of new leaders/managers in urban affairs, the importance of matching funds, and the decline of social and economic need as a criterion for intervention.
The first part of this chapter discusses the concept of local institutional capacity. Local institutional capacity generally refers to the ability or power of localities to shape or create a successful future for themselves, and to adapt to the increasing rate of change in markets and in government policy regimes. It therefore relates closely to discussions of the relative competitiveness of localities in an increasingly internationalized economy, where competitiveness is seen to be related to the economic, environmental and locational attributes of places and to their political and administrative capacity to compete. In the second part of the chapter we chart the evolution of local capacity in Bristol, looking particularly at recent attempts to create/enhance institutional capacity through the development of partnership, collaboration and consensus building, efforts made necessary by the diminution of old powers and competencies in local government, the uncertain future of some key local economic sectors and policy innovation by central government.
This paper seeks to evaluate critically the extent to which there is community involvement in the construction and delivery of urban policy under New Labour, through a case study of the Greater Pollok Social Inclusion Partnership. The paper concentrates on the Scottish experience, but its lessons resonate more widely. Its key finding is that, for all the rhetoric of New Labour and community involvement, the degree to which it has occurred in practice is little different to the level of involvement under Conservative urban policy initiatives. The paper argues that the processes of community consultation and participation during the early stages of the Greater Pollok Social Inclusion Partnership were woefully inadequate. At best it was tokenistic, and at worst, local people were being 'exploited' to legitimise the policy process.
Reflecting the new urban entrepreneuralism, city marketing is more than the mere promotion of place, being used in some cities to rebuild and redefine their image, allied to which has been a strategy of targeting specific types of activity which both reflect and bolster the image. Examining the experience of Glasgow, this paper focuses on the implications raised by the use of such marketing techniques, showing that they have social and political implications which practice tends to overlook. -Author
This article is concerned with the shift away from local government, with its emphasis on direct service provision by elected local authorities, to a system of local governance, in which authorities play roles as client, enabler and partner to a variety of private, voluntary and community organisations. The empirical focus of the paper is the City Challenge initiative, introduced by the British government in 1991. Drawing on interviews with the key actors involved with the initiative in Bristol, the paper explores the extent to which City Challenge opened up the policy making process, and seeks to explain why Bristol became almost the only city to fail to secure funding in two successive rounds of City Challenge bidding.
The inner city as a political issue has had a rare longevity. From Harold Wilson’s expansion of the Urban Programme in 1968, through the new economic perspective embodied in the 1977 White Paper, to Margaret Thatcher’s declaration of having ‘a big job to do in those inner cities’ on election night in 1987 — the issue has always been prominent. This paper examines ways in which the issue has been ‘framed’ over the last decade. It draws on contrasts between state and market mechanisms, the relationships between central and local government and emerging ideologies of the city itself. The author concludes by proposing a new regulatory framework for the development of a national urban policy.
Urban policy has been dominated by physical development and the balance of public spending (through City Grant and Urban Development Corporations for example) has reflected the centrality of property and development interests. Expenditure programmes directed to the leverage of private sector resources have been volatile and unpredictable in the face of cyclical recession, while receipts from the disposal of land and assets have fallen away. It is not clear whether urban public expenditure has or has not been intended as counter cyclical. Since development‐related programmes remain at the heart of the Single Regeneration Budget, improved forecasting, management and control are prerequisites for its success.
Burgess J. A. (1982) Selling places: Environmental images for the executive, Reg. Studies 16, 1--17. Images of place are a significant factor in the investment and locational decisions made by industrial and commercial executives. Local authority advertising attempts to reinforce favourable images and challenge stereotyped, unfavourable impressions about places. This paper assesses the content of promotional material published by local authorities between 1975--9. Image making could be improved through more creative and original copywriting, better market research and increased emphasis on public relations work.
Economic activity and the challenge to local government
  • D King
King, D. (1990), Economic activity and the challenge to local government. In King, D. and Pierre, J. (Eds), Challenges to Local Government (Sage, London).
Urban Problems in Western Europe City Challenge: competing in the urban regeneration game
  • P C Cheshire
  • D G Hay
  • L De Groot
Cheshire, P. C. and Hay D. G. (1986), Urban Problems in Western Europe. de Groot, L. (1992), City Challenge: competing in the urban regeneration game. Local Economy, 7, 3.
The Single Regeneration Budget: Stocktake: A Review of Challenge Round II (Centre for Urban and Regional Studies
  • J Mawson
Mawson J. et al. (1996), The Single Regeneration Budget: Stocktake: A Review of Challenge Round II (Centre for Urban and Regional Studies, University of Birmingham, Birmingham).
Apure theory oflocal expenditures
  • C M Tiebout
Tiebout, C.M. (1956), Apure theory oflocal expenditures. Journal of Political Economy, 64. PUBLIC MONEY & MANAGEMENT JULY-SEPTEMBER 1996 ©CIPFA.1996 Downloaded by [University of Cambridge] at 05:52 26 December 2014
The Single Regeneration Budget: Stocktake I (Centre for Urban and Regional Studies
  • J Mawson
Mawson J. et al. (1995), The Single Regeneration Budget: Stocktake I (Centre for Urban and Regional Studies, University of Birmingham, Birmingham).
People in Cities: A Transatlantic Policy Exchange (School for Advanced Urban Studies
  • R Hambleton
  • M Taylor
Hambleton, R. and Taylor, M. (1994), People in Cities: A Transatlantic Policy Exchange (School for Advanced Urban Studies, Bristol).
The politics of the representation of the 'real': discourses from the left on Glasgow's role as European City of Culture Selling places: environmental images for the executive
  • M Boyle
  • G And Hughes
Boyle, M. and Hughes, G. (1991), The politics of the representation of the 'real': discourses from the left on Glasgow's role as European City of Culture, 1990. Area. Burgess, J. (1982), Selling places: environmental images for the executive. Regional Studies, 16, 1. CEC (1994), Co-operation for European Territorial Development (Office for the Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg).
Place Promotion: The Use of Publicity and Marketing to Sell Towns and Regions
  • J R Gold
  • S V Ward
Gold, J. R. and Ward S. V. (1994), Place Promotion: The Use of Publicity and Marketing to Sell Towns and Regions (John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester).
Evaluating competitive urban policy: the City Challenge initiative
  • N Oatley
  • C Lambert
Oatley, N. and Lambert, C. (1995), Evaluating competitive urban policy: the City Challenge initiative. In Hambleton, R. and Thomas, H. (Eds), Urban Policy Evaluation (Paul Chapman Publishing, London).
  • Peterson P. E.