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Competition and competitiveness in urban policy

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Abstract

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.

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... 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). ...
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... 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). ...
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... 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). ...
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