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From Managerialism to Entrepreneurialism: The Transformation in Urban

Governance in Late Capitalism

David Harvey

Geografiska Annaler. Series B, Human Geography, Vol. 71, No. 1, The Roots of Geographical
Change: 1973 to the Present. (1989), pp. 3-17.

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Fri Mar 14 23:38:30 2008





David Harvey

Harvey, D . 1989: From manager~alismto entrepreneurialism: can best be captured theoretically in dialectical
The transformation in urban governance in late capitalism. terms. It is from such a standpoint that I seek more
Geogr. Ann. 71 B (1): 3-17.
powerful insights into that process of city making
ABSTRACT. In recent years, urban governance has become In- that is both product and condition of ongoing
creasingly preoccupied with the exploration of new ways in which social processes of transformation in the most re-
to foster and encourage local development and employment cent phase of capitalist development.
growth. Such an entrepreneurial stance contrasts with the mana-
gerial practices of earlier decades which primarily focussed on
Enquiry into the role of urbanisation in social
the local provision of services, facilities and benefits to urban dynamics is, of course. nothing new. From time to
populations. This paper explores the context of this shift from time the issue flourishes as a focus of major deba-
managerialism to entrepreneurialism in urban governance and tes, though more often than not with regard to par-
seeks to show how mechanisms of inter-urban competition shape
outcomes and generate macroeconomic consequences. The rela-
ticular historical-geographical circumstances in
tions between urban change and economic development are the- which, for some reason or other, the role of urba-
reby brought into focus in a period characterised by considerable nisation and of cities appears particularly salient.
economic and political instability. The part that city formation played in the rise of
civilization has long been discussed, as has the role
A centerpiece of my academic concerns these last of the city in classical Greece and Rome. The signi-
two decades has been to unravel the role of urbani- ficance of cities to the transition from feudalism
sation in social change, in particular under condi- to capitalism is an arena of continuing controversy,
tions of capitalist social relations and accumula- having sparked a remarkable and revealing litera-
tion (Harvey, 1973; 1982; 1985a; 1985b; 1989a). ture over the years. A vast array of evidence can
This project has necessitated deeper enquiry into now likewise be brought to bear on the significan-
the manner in which capitalism produces a distinc- ce of urbanization to nineteenth century industri-
tive historical geography. When the physical and al, cultural and political development as well as to
social landscape of urbanisation is shaped accord- the subsequent spread of capitalist social relations
ing to distinctively capitalist criteria, constraints to lesser developed countries (which now support
are put on the future paths of capitalist develop- some of the most dramatically growing cities in the
ment. This implies that though urban processes un- world).
der capitalism are shaped by the logic of capital All too frequently, however, the study of urbani-
circulation and accumulation, they in turn shape zation becomes separated from that of social
the conditions and circumstances of capital accu- change and economic development, as if it can
mulation at later points in time and space. Put an- somehow be regarded either as a side-show or as
other way, capitalists, like everyone else, may a passive side-product to more important and fun-
struggle to make their own historical geography damental social changes. The successive revolu-
but, also like everyone else, they do not do so un- tions in technology, space relations, social rela-
der historical and geographical circumstances of tions, consumer habits, lifestyles, and the like that
their own individual choosing even when they have have so characterised capitalist history can, it is
played an important and even determinant collec- sometimes suggested, be understood without any
tive role in shaping those circumstances. This two deep enquiry into the roots and nature of urban
way relation of reciprocity and domination (in processes. True, this judgement is by and large
which capitalists, like workers, find themselves do- made tacitly, by virtue of sins of omission rather
minated and constrained by their own creations) than commission. But the antiurban bias in studies

Geograflska Annaler . 71 B (1989) . 1 3

of macro-economic and macro-social change is rities in Britain "have become increasingly invol-
rather too persistent for comfort. It is for this rea- ved in economic development activity directly re-
son that it seems worthwhile to enquire what role lated to production and investment," while Rees
the urban process might be playing in the quite ra- and Lambert (1985, p. 179) show how "the growth
dical restructuring going on in geographical distri- of local government initiatives in the economic
butions of human activity and in the political-eco- field was positively encouraged by successive cen-
nomic dynamics of uneven geographical develop- tral administrations during the 1970s" in order to
ment in most recent times. complement central government attempts to im-
prove the efficiency, competitive powers and profi-
tability of British Industry. David Blunkett, leader
1. The shift to entrepreneurialism in urban of the Labour Council in Sheffield for several
governance years, has recently put the seal of approval on a
A colloquium held at Orleans in 1985 brought certain kind of urban entrepreneurialism:
together academics, businessmen, and policy- "From the early 1970s, as full employment mo-
makers from eight large cities in seven advanced ved from the top of government priorities, local
capitalist countries (Bouinot, 1987). The charge councils began to take up the challenge. There was
was to explore the lines of action open to urban support for small firms; closer links between the
governments in the face of the widespread erosion public and private sectors; promotion of local
of the economic and fiscal base of many large cities areas to attract new business. They were adapting
in the advanced capitalist world. The colloquium the traditional economic role of British local go-
indicated a strong consensus: that urban govern- vernment which offered inducements in the forms
ments had to be much more innovative and entre- of grants, free loans, and publicly subsidised infra-
preneurial, willing to explore all kinds of avenues structure, and no request for reciprocal inovement
through which to alleviate their distressed condi- with the community, in order to attract industrial
tion and thereby secure a better future for their and commercial concerns which were looking for
populations. The only realm of disagreement con- suitable sites for investment and trading . . . Local
cerned how this best could be done. Should urban government today, as in the past, can offer its own
governments play some kind of supportive or even brand of entrepreneurship and enterprise in facing
direct role in the creation of new enterprises and the enormous economic and social change which
if so of what sort? Should they struggle to preserve technology and industrial restructuring bring"
or even take over threatened employment sources (Blunkett and Jackson, 1987, pp. 108-142).
and if so which ones? Or should they simply con- In the United States, where civic boosterism and
fine themselves to the provision of those infra- entrepreneurialism had long been a major feature
structures, sites, tax baits, and cultural and social of urban systems (see Elkin, 1987) the reduction
attractions that would shore up the old and lure in in the flow of federal redistributions and local tax
new forms of economic activity? revenues after 1972 (the year in which President
I quote this case because it is symptomatic of a Nixon declared the urban crisis to be over, signal-
reorientation in attitudes to urban governance that ling that the Federal government no longer had the
has taken place these last two decades in the ad- fiscal resources to contribute to their solution) led
vanced capitalist countries. Put simply, the "mana- to a revival of boosterism to the point where Ro-
gerial" approach so typical of the 1960s has stead- bert Goodman (1979) was prepared to characteri-
ily given way to initiatory and "entrepreneurial" se both state and local governments as "the last
forms of action in the 1970s and 1980s. In recent entremeneurs." An extensive literature now exists
years in particular, there seems to be a general con- dealing with how the new urban entrepreneuria-
sensus emerging throughout the advanced capita- lism has moved center-stage in urban policy formu-
list world that positive benefits are to be had by lation and urban growth strategies in the United
cities taking an entrepreneurial stance to econo- States (see Judd and Ready, 1986; Peterson, 1981;
mic development. What is remarkable, is that this Leitner, 1989).
consensus seems to hold across national bounda- The shift towards entrepreneurialism has by no
ries and even across political parties and ideo- means been complete. Many local governments in
logies. Britain did not respond to the new pressures and
Both Boddy (1984) and Cochrane (1987) agree, possibilities, at least until relatively recently, while
for example, that since the early 1970s local autho- cities like New Orleans in the United States conti-

4 GeografiskaAnnaler . 71 B (1989) . 1

nue to remain wards of the federal government the broadest sense) is embedded in a framework
and rely fundamentally on redistributions for sur- of zero-sum inter-urban competition for resour-
vival. And the history of its outcomes, though yet ces, jobs, and capital, then even the most resolute
to be properly recorded, is obviously checkered, and avantgarde municipal socialists will find them-
pockmarked with as many failures as successes and selves, in the end, playing the capitalist game and
not a little controversy as to what constitutes "suc- performing as agents of discipline for the very pro-
cess" anyway (a question to which I shall later re- cesses they are trying to resist. It is exactly this
turn). Yet beneath all this diversity, the shift from problem that has dogged the Labour councils in
urban managerialism to some kind of entreprene- Britain (see the excellent account by Kees and
urialism remains a persistent and recurrent theme Lambert, 1985). They had on the one hand to de-
in the period since the early 1970s. Both the rea- velop projects which could "produce outputs
sons for and the implications of such a shift are which are directly related to working people's
deserving of some scrutiny. needs, in ways which build o n the skills of labour
There is general agreement, of course, that the rather than de-skilling them" (Murray, 1983),
shift has something to do with the difficulties while on the other hand recognizing that much of
that have beset capitalist economies since the re- that effort would go for nought if the urban region
cession of 1973. Deindustrialisation, widespread did not secure relative competitive advantages. Gi-
and seemingly 'structural' unemployment, fiscal ven the right circumstances, however, urban entre-
austerity at both the national and local levels, all preneurialism and even inter-urban competition
coupled with a rising tide of neoconservatism and may open the way to a non zero-sum pattern of
much stronger appeal (though often more in development. This kind of activity has certainly
theory than in practice) to market rationality and played a key role in capitalist development in the
privatisation, provide a backdrop to understand- past. And it is an open question as to whether or
ing why so many urban governments, often of not it could lead towards progressive and socialist
quite different political persuasions and armed transitions in the future.
with very different legal and political powers, have
all taken a broadly similar direction. The greater
emphasis on local action to combat these ills also 2. Conceptual issues
seems to have something to d o with the declining There are conceptual difficulties to such an en-
powers of the nation state to control multinational quiry that deserve an initial airing. To begin with,
money flows, so that investment increasingly takes the reification of cities when combined with a
the form of a negotiation between international fi- language that sees the urban process as an active
nance capital and local powers doing the best they rather than passive aspect of political-economic
can to maximise the attractiveness of the local site development poses acute dangers. It makes it
as a lure for capitalist development. By the same seem as if "cities" can be active agents when they
token, the rise of urban entrepreneurialism may are mere things. Urbanisation should, rather, be
have had an important role to play in a general regarded as a spatially grounded social process in
transition in the dynamics of capitalism from a For- which a wide range of different actors with quite
dist-Keynesian regime of capital accumulation to different objectives and agendas interact through
a regime of "flexible accumulation" (see Gertler, a particular configuration of interlocking spatial
1988; Harvey, 1989b; Sayer, 1989; Schoenberger, practices. In a class-bound society such as capita-
1988; Scott, 1988; Swyngedouw, 1986, for some lism, these spatial practices acquire a definite class
elaboration and critical reflection on this contro- content, which is not to say that all spatial practices
versial concept). The transformation of urban go- can be so interpreted. Indeed, as many researchers
vernance these last two decades has had, I shall have shown, spatial practices can and d o acquire
argue, substantial macro-economic roots and imp- gender, racial and bureaucratic-administrative
lications. And, if Jane Jacobs (1984) is only half contents (to list just a sub-set of important possibi-
right, that the city is the relevant unit for under- lities). But under capitalism, it is the broad range
standing how the wealth of nations is created, then of class practices connected to the circulation of
the shift from urban managerialism to urban entre- capital, the reproduction of labour power and class
preneurialism could have far reaching implications relations, and the need to control labour power,
for future growth prospects. that remains hegemonic.
If, for example, urban entrepreneurialism (in The difficulty is to find a way of proceeding that

Geografiska Annaler . 71 B (1989) 1 5
can deal specifically with the relation betweenpro- walled physical unit or even a coherently organi-
cess and object without itself falling victim to unne- sed administrative domain. The "megalopolis" of
cessary reification. The spatially grounded set of the 1960s has suffered even further fragmentation
social processes that I call urbanisation produce in- and dispersal, particularly in the United States, as
numerable artifacts - a built form, produced spa- urban deconcentration gathers pace to produce a
ces and resource systems of particular qualities "spread city" form. Yet the spatial grounding per-
organised into a distinctive spatial configuration. sists in some form with specific meanings and ef-
Subsequent social action must take account of fects. The production of new ecological patter-
these artefacts, since so many social processes nings and structures within a spread city form has
(such as commuting) become physically channel- significance for how production, exchange, and
led by them. Urbanisation also throws up certain consumption is organised, how social relation-
institutional arrangements, legal forms, political ships are established, how power (financial and po-
and administrative systems, hierarchies of power, litical) is exercised, and how the spatial integration
and the like. These, too, give a "city" objectified of social action is achieved. I hasten to add that
qualities that may dominate daily practices and presentation of the urban problematic in such eco-
confine subsequent courses of action. And, finally, logical terms in no way presumes ecological expla-
the consciousness of urban inhabitants is affected nations. It simply insists that ecological pattern-
by the environment of experience out of which per- ings are important for social organisation and ac-
ceptions, symbolic readings, and aspirations arise. tion. The shift towards entrepreneurialism in ur-
In all of these respects there is a perpetual tension ban governance has to be examined, then, at a va-
between form and process, between object and riety of spatial scales - local neighbourhood and
subject, between activity and thing. It is as foolish community, central city and suburb, metropolitan
to deny the role and power of objectifications, the region, region, nation state, and the like.
capacity of things we create to return to us as so It is likewise important to specify who is being
many forms of domination, as it is to attribute to entrepreneurial and about what. I want here to in-
such things the capacity for social action. sist that urban "governance" means much more
Given the dynamism to which capitalism is pro- than urban "government". It is unfortunate that
ne, we find that these "things" are always in the much of the literature (particularly in Britain) con-
course of transformation, that activities are con- centrates so much on the latter when the real
stantly escaping the bounds of fixed forms, that the power to reorganise urban life so often lies else-
objectified qualities of the urban are chronically where o r at least within a broader coalition of for-
unstable. So universal is this capitalist condition, ces within which urban government and admini-
that the conception of the urban and of "the city" stration have only a facilitative and coordinating
is likewise rendered unstable, not because of any role to play. The power to organise space derives
conceptual definitional failing, but precisely be- from a whole complex of forces mobilised by diver-
cause the concept has itself to reflect changing re- se social agents. It is a conflictual process, the
lations between form and process, between activi- more so in the ecological spaces of highly variega-
ty and thing, between subjects and objects. When ted social density. Within a metropolitan region as
we speak, therefore, of a transition from urban a whole, we have to look to the formation of coali-
managerialism towards urban entrepreneurialism tion politics, to class alliance formation as the basis
these last two decades, we have to take cognizance for any kind of urban entrepreneurialism at all. Ci-
of the reflexive effects of such a shift, through the vic boosterism has, of course, often been the pre-
impacts on urban institutions as well as urban built rogative of the local chamber of commerce, some
environments. cabal of local financiers, industrialists and mer-
The domain of spatial practices has, unfortuna- chants, or some "roundtable" of business leaders
tely, changed in recent years, making any firm de- and real estate and property developers. The latter
finition of the urban as a distinctive spatial domain frequently coalesce to form the guiding power in
even more problematic. O n the one hand we wit- "growth machine" politics (Molotch, 1976). Edu-
ness the greater fragmentation of the urban social cational and religious institutions, different arms
space into neighbourhoods, communities, and a of government (varying from the military to re-
multitude of street corner societies, while on the search o r administrative establishments), local la-
other telecommuting and rapid transport make bour organisations (the building and construction
nonsense of some concept of the city as a tightly- trades in particular) as well as political parties, so-

6 Geografiska Annaler . 71 B (1989) . 1


cia1 movements, and the local state apparatuses "The early 1970s was a period o f resistance to
(which are multiple and often quite heteroge- change: motorway protest groups, community ac-
neous), can also piay the game o f local boosterism tion against slum clearance, opponents o f town
though often with quite different goals. centre redevelopment. Strategic and entreprene-
Coalition and alliance formation is so delicate urial interests were sacrificed to local community
and difficult a task that the way is open here for a pressures. Conceivably, however, we are moving
person o f vision, tenacity, and skill (such as a cha- into a different period in which the entrepreneu-
rismatic mayor, a clever city administrator, or a rial role becomes dominant." (Davies, 1980, p. 23;
wealthy business leader) to put a particular stamp quoted in Ball, 1983, p p . 270-1).
upon the nature and direction o f urban entrepre- In Baltimore the transition-point can be dated
neurialism, perhaps to shape it, even, to particular exactly. A referendumnarrowly passed in 1978, af-
political ends. Whereas it was a public figure like ter a vigorous and contentious political campaign,
Mayor Schaeffer who played the central role in sanctioned the use o f city land for the private de-
Baltimore, in cities like Halifax or Gateshead it velopment that became the highly spectacular and
has been private entrepreneurs who have taken the successful Harborplace. Thereafter, the policy o f
lead. In other instances it has been a more intricate public-private partnership had a popular mandate
mix o f personalities and institutions that have put as well as an effectivesubterranean presence in al-
a particular project together. most everything that urban governance was about
I raise these problems not because they are in- (see Berkowitz, 1984; Levine, 1987; Lyall, 1982;
surmountable or intractable - thev are resolved Stoker, 1986).
daily within the practices o f capitalist urbanisation Secondly, the activity o f that public-private part-
- but because we have to attend to their manner nership is entrepreneurial precisely because it is
o f practical resolution with a requisite care and se- speculative in execution and design and therefore
riousness. I shall, however, venture three broad as- dogged by all the difficultiesand dangers which at-
sertions which I know to be true for a city like Bal- tach to speculative as opposed to rationally plan-
timore (the case study which underpins much o f ned and coordinated development. In many in-
the argument I offerhere) and which may be more stances this has meant that the public sector assu-
generally applicable. mes the risk and the private sector takes the bene-
First, the new entrepreneurialism has, as its cen- fits, though there are enough examples where this
terpiece, the notion o f a "public-private partner- is not the case (think, for example, o f the private
ship" in which a traditional local boosterism is in- risk taken in Gateshead's Metrocenter develop-
tegrated with the use o f local governmental po- ment) to make any absolute generalization dang-
wers to try and attract external sources o f funding, erous. But I suspect it is this feature o f risk-absorp-
new direct investments, or new employment sour- tion by the local (rather than the national or fede-
ces. The Orleans colloquium (Bouinot, 1987) was ral) public sector which distinguishes the present
full o f references to the importance o f this public- phase o f urban entrepreneurialism from earlier
private partnership and it was, after all, prkcisely phases o f civic boosterism in which private capital
the aim o f local government reforms in Britain in seemed generally much less risk averse.
the 1970s to facilitate their formation (or in the end Thirdly, the entrepreneurialism focuses much
to by-pass local resistance by setting up the urban more closely on the political economy o f place
development corporations). In the United States rather than o f territory. By the latter, I mean the
the tradition o f federally backed and locally imple- kinds o f economic projects (housing, education,
mented public-private partnership faded during etc.) that are designed primarily to improve condi-
the 1960s as urban governments struggled to tions o f living or working within a particular juris-
regain social control o f restive populations diction. The construction o f place ( a new civic ten-
through redistributions o f real income (better ter, an industrial park) or the enhancement o f con-
housing, education, health care, etc. all targeted ditions within a place (intervention, for example,
towards the poor) in the wake o f urban unrest.The in local labour markets by re-training schemes or
role o f the local state as facilitator for the strategic downward pressure on local wages), on the other
interests o f capitalist development (as opposed to hand, can have impacts either smaller or greater
stabilizer o f capitalist society) declined. The same than the specific territory within which such pro-
dismissiveness towards capitalist development has jects happen to be located. The up-grading o f the
been noted in Britain: image o f a cities like Baltimore, Liverpool, Glas-

Geografiska Annaler . 71 B (1989) 1 7

gow or Halifax, through the construction o f cultu- created through public and private investments
ral, retail, entertainment and office centers can in the kinds o f physical and social infrastructu-
cast a seemingly beneficial shadow over the whole res that strengthen the economic base o f the
metropolitan region. Such projects can acquire metropolitan region as an exporter o f goods
meaning at the metropolitan scale o f public-priva- and services. Direct interventions to stimulate
te action and allow for the formation o f coalitions the application o f new technologies, the crea-
which leap over the kinds o f city-suburb rivalries tion o f new products, or the provision o f ventu-
that dogged metropolitan regions in the manage- re capital to new enterprises (which may even
rial phase. On the other hand, a rather similar de- be cooperatively owned and managed) may al-
velopment in New York City - Southstreet Seaport so be significant, while local costs may be redu-
- constructs a new place that has only local im- ced by subsidies (tax breaks, cheap credit, pro-
pacts, falling far short o f any metropolitan-wide curement o f sites). Hardly any large scale devel-
influence, and generating a coalition o f forces that opment now occurs without local government
is basically local property developers and finan- (or the broader coalition o f forces constituting
ciers. local governance) offering a substantial pack-
The construc?iono f such places may, o f course, age o f aids and assistance as inducements. In-
be viewed as a means to procure benefits for popu- ternational competitiveness also depends upon
lations within a particular jurisdiction, and indeed the qualities, quantities, and costs o f local la-
this is a primary claim made in the public discourse bour supply. Local costs can most easily be
developed to support them. But for the most part, controlled when local replaces national collecti-
their form is such as to make all benefits indirect ve bargaining and when local governments and
and potentially either wider or smaller in scope other large institutions, like hospitals and uni-
than the jurisdiction within which they lie. Place- versities, lead the way with reductions in real
specific projects o f this sort also have the habit o f wages and benefits (a series o f struggles over
becoming such a focus o f public and political atten- wage rates and benefits in the public and institu-
tion that they divert concern and even resources tional sector in Baltimore in the 1970s was typi-
from the broader problems that may beset the re- cal). Labour power o f the right quality, even
gion or territory as a whole. though expensive, can be a powerful magnet
The new urban entrepreneurialism typically for new economic development so that invest-
rests, then, on a public-private partnership focus- ment in highly trained and skilled work forces
sing on investment and economic development suited to new labour processes and their mana-
with the speculative construction o f place rather gerial requirements can be well rewarded.
than amelioration o f conditions within a particular There is, finally, the problem o f agglomeration
territory as its immediate (though by no means ex- economies in metropolitan regions. The pro-
clusive) political and economic goal. duction o f goods and services is often depen-
dent not on single decisions o f economic units
(such as the large multinationals to bring a
3. Alternative strategies for urban governance branch plant to town, often with very limited
There are, I have argued elsewhere (Harvey, local spillover effects),but upon the way in
1989a, chapter I ) , four basic options for urban ent- which economies can be generated by bringing
repreneurialism. Each warrants some separate together diverse activities within a restricted
consideration, even though it is the zombination space o f interaction so as to facilitate highly ef-
o f them that provides the clue to the recent rapid ficient and interactive production systems (see
shifts in the uneven development o f urban systems Scott, 1988).From this standpoint, large metro-
in the advanced capitalist world. politan regions like New York, Los Angeles,
1. Competition within the international division London, and Chicago possess some distinctive
o f labour means the creation o f exploitation o f advantages that congestion costs have by no
particular advantages for the production o f means yet offset. But, as the case o f Bologna
goods and services. Some advantages derive (see Gundle, 1986) and the surge o f new indu-
from the resource base (the oil that allowedTex- strial development in Emilia Romagna illustra-
as to bloom in the 1970s)or location (e.g. favou- tes, careful attention to the industrial and mar-
red access to the vigour o f Pacific Rim trading keting mix backed by strong local state action
in the case o f Californian cities). But others are (communist-led in this instance), can promote

Geograliska Annaler . 71 8 (1989) . 1


powerful growth of new industrial districts and dustries. Although the specific assets of the in-
configurations,based on agglomeration econo- dividual cities are obviously varied, each is able
mies and efficientorganisation. to offer a host o f structural reminders o f just
2. The urban region can also seek to improve its what made them great in the first place. They
competitive position with respect to the spatial share, in other words, a marketable ingredient
division of consumption. There is more to this called industrial and/or maritime heritage."
than trying to bring money into an urban region Festivals and cultural events likewise become
through tourism and retirement attractions. the focus o f investment activities. "The arts
The consumerist style of urbanisation after create a climate of optimism -the 'can do' cul-
1950 promoted an ever-broaderbasis for parti- ture essential to developing the enterprise cul-
cipation in mass consumption.While recession, ture," says the introduction to a recent Arts
unemployment, and the high cost of credit have Council o f Great Britain report, adding that
rolled back that possibility for important layers cultural activities and the arts can help break
in the population, there is still a lot of consumer the downward spiral of economic stagnation in
power around (much o f it credit-fuelled).Com- inner cities and help people "believe in them-
petition for that becomes more frenetic whi!e selves and their community" (see Bianchini,
consumers who do have the money have the forthcoming). Spectacle and display become
opportunity to be much more discriminating. symbols of the dynamic community, as much in
Investments to attract the consumer dollar communist controlled Rome and Bologna as in
have paradoxically grown a-pace as a response Baltimore, Glasgow and Liverpool. This way,
to generalised recession. They increasingly fo- an urban region can hope to cohere and survive
cus on the quality of life. Gentrification, cultu- as a locus o f community solidarity while explo-
ral innovation, and physical up-grading o f the ring the option of exploiting conspicuous con-
urban environment (including the turn to post- sumption in a sea o f spreading recession.
modernist styles of architecture and urban de- 3. Urban entrepreneurialism has also been strong-
sign)), consumer attractions (sports stadia, l y coloured by a fierce struggle over the acqui-
convention and shopping centres, marinas, ex- sition of key control and command functions in
otic eating places) and entertainment (the orga- high finance, government, or informationgath-
nisation of urban spectacles on a temporary or ering and processing (including the media).
permanent basis), have all become much more Functions o f this sort need particular and often
prominent facets o f strategies for urban regene- expensive infrastructural provision. Efficiency
ration. Above all, the city has to appear as an and centrality within a worldwide communica-
innovative, exciting, creative, and safe place to tions net is vital in sectors where personal inter-
live or to visit, to play and consume in. Baltimo- actions of key decision makers is required. This
re, with its dismal reputation as "the armpit of means heavy investments in transport and com-
the east coast" in the early 1970s has, for munications (airportsand teleports, for examp-
example, expanded its employment in the tou- le) and the provision o f adequate officespace
rist trade from under one to over fifteen thou- equipped with the necessary internal and exter-
sand in less than two decades of massive urban nal linkages to minimise transactions times and
redevelopment. More recently thirteen ailing costs. Assembling the wide range o f supportive
industrial cities in Britain (including Leeds, services, particularly those that can gather and
Bradford, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle process information rapidly or allow quick con-
and Stoke-on-Trent)put together a joint pro- sultation with 'experts', calls for other kinds o f
motional effortto capture more of Britain's tou- investments, while the specific skills required
rist trade. Here is how The Guardian (May 9th, by such activities put a premium on metropoli-
1987) reports this quite successful venture: tan regions with certain kinds of educations
"Apart from generating income and creating provision (business and law-schools, hightech
jobs in areas o f seemingly terminal unemploy- production sectors, media skills, and the like).
ment, tourism also has a significant spin-offe f - Inter-urban competition in this realm is very ex-
fect in its broader enhancement o f the environ- pensive and peculiarly tough because this is an
ment. Faceliftsand facilities designed to attract area where agglomeration economies remain
more tourists also improve the quality o f life supreme and the monopoly power of establish-
for those who live there, even enticing new in- ed centres, like New York, Chicago, London,

GeografiskaAnnaler . 71 8 (1989) . 1 9

and Los Angeles, is particularly hard to break. stries and rapid accrual of command and control
But since command functions have been a functions that have further stimulated consump-
strong growth sector these last two decades tion-oriented activitieq to the point where there
(employment in finance and insurance has has been a considerable revivhl of certain types of
doubled in Britain in less than a decade), so pur- manufacturing. O n the other hand, there is little
suit of them has more and more appealed as the evidence that the strong growth of consumption-
golden path to urban survival. The effect, of oriented activity in Baltimore has done very much
course, is t o make it appear as if the city of the at all for the growth of other functions save, per-
future is going to be a city of pure command haps, the relatively mild proliferation of banking
and control functions, an informational city, a and financial services. But there is also evidence
post-industrial city in which the export of servi- that the network of cities and urban regions in, say,
ces (financial, informational, knowledge-pro- the Sunbelt or Southern England has generated a
ducing) becomes the economic basis for urban stronger collective synergism than would be the
survival. case for their respective northern counterparts.
4. Competitive edge with respect to redistribu- Noyelle and Stanback (1984) also suggest that po-
tions of surpluses through central (or in the sition and function within the urban hierarchy
United States, state) governments is still of tre- have had an important role to play in the patter-
mendous importance since it is somewhat of a ning of urban fortunes and misfortunes. Transmis-
myth that central governments d o not redistri- sion effects between cities and within the urban
bute to the degree they used to do. The chan- hierarchy must also be factored in to account for
nels have shifted so that in both Britain (take the pattern of urban fortunes and misfortunes du-
the case of Bristol) and in the United States (ta- ring the transition from managerialism to entre-
ke the case of Long Beach-San Diego) it is mi- preneurialism in urban governance.
litary and defense contracts that provide the Urban entrepreneurialism implies, however,
sustenance for urban prosperity, in part be- some level of inter-urban competition. We here ap-
cause of the sheer amount of money involved proach a force that puts clear limitations upon the
but also because of the type of employment and power of specific projects to transform the lot of
the spin-offs it may have into so-called "high- particular cities. Indeed, to the degree that inter-
tech" industries (Markusen, 1986). And even urban competition becomes more potent, it will
though every effort may have been made to cut almost certainly operate as an "external coercive
the flow of central government support to many power" over individual cities to bring them closer
urban regions, there are many sectors of the into line with the discipline and logic of capitalist
economy (health and education. for example) development. It may even force repetitive and se-
and even whole metropolitan economies (see rial reproduction of certain patterns of develop-
Smith and Keller's 1983, study of New Orleans) ment (such as the serial reproduction of "world
where such a cut off was simply impossible. Ur- trade centers" o r of new cultural and entertain-
ban ruling class alliances have had plenty of ment centers, of waterfront development, of post-
opportunity, therefore, to exploit redistributive modern shopping malls, and the like). The eviden-
mechanisms as a means to urban survival. ce for serial reproduction of similar forms of urban
These four strategies are not mutually exclusive redevelopment is quite strong and the reasons be-
and the uneven fortunes of metropolitan regions hind it are worthy of note.
have depended upon the nature of the coalitions With the diminution in transport costs and the
that have formed, the mix and timing of entrepre- consequent reduction in spatial barriers to move-
neurial strategies, the particular resources (natu- ment of goods, people, money and information,
ral, human, locational) with which the metropoli- the significance of the qualities of place has been
tan region can work, and the strength of the com- enhanced and the vigour of inter-urban competi-
petition. But uneven growth has also resulted from tion for capitalist development (investment, jobs,
the synergism that leads one kind of strategy to be tourism, etc.) has strengthened considerably. Con-
facilitative for another. For example, the growth sider the matter, first of all, from the standpoint
of the Los Angeles-San Diego-Long Beach- of highly mobile multinational capital. With the re-
Orange County megalopolis appears to have been duction of spatial barriers, distance from the mar-
fuelled by interaction effects between strong go- ket or from raw materials has become less relevant
vernmental redistributions t o the defense indu- to locational decisions. The monopolistic elements

Geografiska Annaler . 71 B (1989) . 1


in spatial competition, so essential to the workings decline under conditions where urban entreprene-
o f Loschian theory, disappear. Heavy, low value urialism and inter-urban competition are strong.
items (like beer and mineral water),which used to The innovative and competitive responses o f many
be locally produced are now traded over such long urban ruling class alliances have engendered more
distances that concepts such as the "range o f a rather than less uncertainty and in the end made
good" make little sense. On the other hand, the the urban system more rather than less vulnerable
ability o f capital to exercise greater choice over lo- to the uncertainties o f rapid change.
cation, highlights the importance o f the particular
production conditions prevailing at a particular
place. Small differences in labour supply (quanti-
ties and qualities), in infrastructures and resour- 4. The macro-economic implications of
ces, in government regulation and taxation, assu- inter-urban competition
me much greater significance than was the case The macro-economic as well as local implications
when high transport costs created "natural" mono- o f urban entrepreneurialism and stronger inter-ur-
polies for local production in local markets. By the ban competition deserve some scrutiny. It is parti-
same token, multinational capital now has the po- cularly useful to put these phenomena into rela-
wer to organise its responses to highly localised va- tion with some o f the more general shifts and
riations in market taste through small batch and trends that have been observed in the way capita-
specialised production designed to satisfy local list economies have been working since the first
market niches. In a world o f heightened competi- major post-war recession o f 1973 sparked a variety
tion - such as that which has prevailed since the o f seemingly profound adjustments in the paths o f
post-war boom came crashing to a halt in 1973 - capitalist development.
coercive pressures force multinational capital to To begin with, the fact o f inter-urban competi-
be much more discriminating and sensitive to tion and urban entrepreneurialism has opened up
small variations between places with respect to the urban spaces o f the advanced capitalist count-
both production and consumption possibilities. ries to all kinds o f new patterns o f development,
Consider matters, in the second instance, from even when the net effecthas been the serial repro-
the standpoint o f the places that stand to improve duction o f science parks, gentrification, world tra-
or lose their economic vitality if they do not offer ding centers, cultural and entertainment centers,
enterprises the requisite conditions to come to or large scale interior shopping malls with postmo-
remain in town. The reduction o f spatial barriers dern accoutrements, and the like. The emphasis
has, in fact, made competition between localities, on the production o f a good local business climate
states, and urban regions for development capital has emphasised the importance o f the locality as
even more acute. Urban governance has thus be- a site o f regulation o f infrastructural provision, la-
come much more oriented to the provision o f a bour relations, environmental controls, and even
"good business climate" and to the construction o f tax policy vis-a-vis international capital (see
all sorts o f lures to bring capital into town. In- Swyngedouw, this issue).The absorption o f risk by
creased entrepreneurialism has been a partial re- the public sector and in particular the stress on
sult o f this process, o f course. But we here see that public sector involvement in infrastructural provi-
increasing entrepreneurialism in a different light sion, has meant that the cost o f locational change
precisely because the search to procure investment has diminished from the standpoint o f multinatio-
capital confines innovation to a very narrow path nal capital, making the latter more rather than less
built around a favourable package for capitalist de- geographically mobile. I f anything, the new urban
velopment and all that entails. The task o f urban entrepreneurialism adds to rather than detracts
governance is, in short, to lure highly mobile and from the geographical flexibility with which multi-
flexible production, financial, and consumption national firms can approach their locational strate-
flows into its space. The speculative qualities o f ur- gies. To the degree that the locality becomes the
ban investments simply derive from the inability site o f regulation o f labour relations, so it also
to predict exactly which package will succeed and contributes to increased flexibility in managerial
which will not, in a world o f considerable econo- strategies in geographically segmented labour mar-
mic instability and volatility. kets. Local, rather than national collective bar-
It is easy to envisage, therefore, all manner o f gaining has long been a feature o f labour relations
upward and downward spirals o f urban growth and in the United States, but the trend towards local

Geografiska Annaler . 71 B (1989) . 1 11


agreements is marked in many advanced capitalist The kinds of jobs created in many instances like-
countries over the past two decades. wise militate against any progressive shift in in-
There is, in short, nothing about urban entrepre- come distributions since the emphasis upon small
neurialism which is antithetical to the thesis of businesses and sub-contracting can even spill over
some macro-economic shift in the form and style into direct encouragement of the "informal sec-
of capitalist development since the early 1970s. In- tor" as a basis for urban survival. The rise of infor-
deed, a strong case can be made (cf. Harvey, mal production activities in many cities, particular-
1989a, chapter 8), that the shift in urban politics ly in the United States (Sassen-Koob, 1988), has
and the turn to entrepreneurialism has had an im- been a marked feature in the last two decades and
portant facilitative role in a transition from locatio- is increasingly seen as either a necessary evil or as
nally rather rigid Fordist production systems back- a dynamic growth sector capable of reimporting
ed by Keynesian state welfarism to a much more some level of manufacturing activity back into
geographically open and market based form of otherwise declining urban centers. By the same to-
flexible accumulation. A further case can be made ken, the kinds of service activities and managerial
(cf. Harvey, 1989a and 1989b) that the trend away functions which get consolidated in urban regions
from urban based modernism in design, cultural tend to be either low-paying jobs (often held exclu-
forms and lifte style towards postmodernism is sively by women) or very high paying positions at
also connected to the rise of urban entreprene- the top end of the managerial spectrum. Urban
urialism. In what follows I shall illustrate how and entrepreneurialism consequently contributes to
why such connections might arise. increasing disparities in wealth and income as well
Consider, first, the general distributive consequ- as to that increase in urban inlpoverishment which
ences of urban entrepreneurialism. Much of the has been noted even in those cities (like New York)
vaunted "public-private partnership" in the Uni- that have exhibited strong growth. It has, of
ted states, for example, ;mounts to a subsidy for course, been exactly this result that Labour coun-
affluent consumers, corporations, and powerful cils in Britain (as well as some of the more progres-
command functions to stay in town at the expense sive urban administrations in the United States)
of local collective consumption for the working have been struggling to resist. But it is by no means
class and poor. The general increase in problems clear that even the most progressive urban govern-
of impoverishment and disempowerment, includ- ment can resist such an outcome when embedded
ing the production of a distinctive "underclass" (to in the logic of capitalist spatial development in
use the language of Wilson, 1987) has been docu- which competition seems to operate not as a bene-
mented beyond dispute for many of the large cities ficial hidden hand, but as an external coercive law
in the United States. Levine, for example, provi- forcing the lowest common denominator of social
des abundant details for Baltimore in a setting responsibility and welfare provision within a com-
where major claims are made for the benefits to petitively organised urban system.
be had from public-private partnership. Boddy Many of the innovations and investments de-
(1984) likewise reports that what he calls "main- signed to make particular cities more attractive as
stream" (as opposed to socialist) approaches to lo- cultural and consumer centres have quickly been
cal development in Britain have been "property- imitated elsewhere, thus rendering any competiti-
led, business and market oriented and competiti- ve advantage within a system of cities ephemeral.
ve, with economic development rather than em- How many successful convention centres, sports
ployment the primary focus, and with an emphasis stadia, disney-worlds, harbour places and specta-
on small firms". Since the main aim has been "to cular shopping malls can there be? Success is often
stimulate or attract in private enterprise by creat- short-lived or rendered moot by parallel o r alter-
ing the preconditions for profitable investment", native innovations arising elsewhere. Local coali-
local government "has in effect ended u p under- tions have no option, given the coercive laws of
pinning private enterprise, and taking on part of competition, except to keep ahead of the game
the burden of production costs". Since capital thus engendering leap-frogging innovations in life
tends to be more rather than less mobile these styles, cultural forms, products and service mixes,
days, it follows that local subsidies to capital will even institutional and political forms if they are to
likely increase while local provision for the under- survive. The result is a stimulating if often destruc-
privileged will diminish, producing greater polari- tive maelstrom of urban-based cultural, political,
sation in the social distribution of real income. production and consumption innovations. It is at

12 Geografiska Annaler 71 B (1989) 1


this point that we can identify an albeit subter- stable basis for urban entrepreneurial endeavour.
ranean but nonetheless vital connection between The emphasis upon tourism, the production and
the rise of urban entrepreneurialism and the post- consumption of spectacles, the promotion of ephe-
modern penchant for design of urban fragments meral events within a given locale, bear all the
rather than comprehensive urban planning, for ep- signs of being favoured remedies for ailing urban
hemerality and eclecticism of fashion and style economies. Urban investments ?f this sort may
rather than the search for enduring values, for yield quick though ephemeral fixes to urban pro-
quotation and fiction rather than invention and blems. But they are often highly speculative. Gear-
function, and, finally, for medium over message ing up to bid for the Olympic Games is an expen-
and image over substance. sive exercise, for example, which may or may not
In the United States, where urban entreprene- pay off. Many cities in the United States (Buffalo,
urialism has been particularly vigorous, the result for example) have invested in vast stadium facili-
has been instability within the urban system. ties in the hope of landing a major league baseball
Houston, Dallas and Denver, boom towns in the team and Baltimore is similarly planning a new sta-
1970s, suddenly dissolved after 1980 into morasses dium to try and recapture a football team that went
of excess capital investment bringing a host of fi- to a superior stadium in Indianapolis some years
nancial institutions to the brink of, if not in actual ago (this is the contemporary United States ver-
bankruptcy. Silicon Valley, once the high-tech sion of that ancient cargo cult practice in Papua,
wonder of new products and new employment, New Guinea, of building an airstrip in the hope of
suddenly lost its luster but New York, on the edge luring a jet liner to earth). Speculative projects of
of bankruptcy in 1975, rebounded in the 1980s this sort are part and parcel of a more general mac-
with the immense vitality of its financial services ro-economic problem. Put simply, credit-financed
and command functions, only to find its future shopping malls, sports stadia, and other facets of
threatened once more with the wave of lay-offs and conspicuous high consumption are high risk pro-
mergers which rationalised the financial services jects that can easily fall on bad times and thus ex-
sector in the wake of the stock market crash of acerbate, as the "overmalling of America" only
October, 1987. San Francisco, the darling of Paci- too dramatically illustrates (Green, 1988), the
fic Rim trading, suddenly finds itself with excess problems of overaccumulation and overinvest-
office space in the early 1980s only to recover al- ment to which capitalism as a whole is so easily
most immediately. New Orleans, already strugg- prone. The instability that pervades the U.S. finan-
ling as a ward of federal government redistribu- cial system (forcing something of the order of
tions, sponsors a disastrous World Fair that drives $ 100 billion in public moneys to stabilise the
it deeper into the mire, while Vancouver, already savings and loan industry) is partly due to bad
booming, hosts a remarkably successful World Ex- loans in energy, agriculture, and urban real estate
position. The shifts in urban fortunes and misfortu- development. Many of the "festival market pla-
nes since the early 1970s have been truly remark- ces" that looked like an "Alladin's lamp for cities
able and the strengthening of urban entreprene- fallen on hard times", just a decade ago, ran a re-
urialism and inter-urban competition has had a lot cent report in the Baltimore Sun (August 20,
to d o with it. 1987), have now themselves fallen on hard times.
But there has been another rather more subtle "Projects in Richmond, Va., Flint, Mich. andTole-
effect that deserves consideration. Urban entre- do, Ohio, managed by Rouse's Enterprise Devel-
preneurialism encourages the development of opment Co., are losing millions of dollars", and
those kinds of activities and endeavours that have even the "South Street Seaport in New York and
the strongest localised capacity to enhance proper- Riverwalk in New Orleans" have encountered se-
ty values, the tax base, the local circulation of re- vere financial difficulties. Ruinous inter-urban
venues, and (most often as a hoped-for consequen- competition on all such dimensions bids fair to be-
ce of the preceding list) employment growth. Since come a quagmire of indebtedness.
increasing geographical mobility and rapidly Even in the face of poor economic performance,
changing technologies have rendered many forms however, investments in these last kinds of pro-
of production of goods highly suspect, so the pro- jects appear to have both a social and political at-
duction of those kinds of services that are (a) high- traction. To begin with, the selling of the city as a
ly localised and (b) characterised by rapid if not location for activity depends heavily upon the crea-
instantaneous turnover time appear as the most tion of an attractive urban imagery. City leaders

Geografiska Annaler 71 B (1989) . 1 13

can look upon the spectacular development as a renaissance by Levine (1987) showed again and
'-loss leader" to pull in other forms of develop- again how partial and limited the benefits were
ment. Part of what we have seen these last two de- and how the city as a whole was accelerating rather
cades is the attempt to build a physical and social than reversing its decline. The image of prosperity
imagery of cities suited for that competitive purpo- conceals all that, masks the underlying difficulties
se. The production of an urban image of this sort and projects an imagery of success that spreads in-
also has internal political and social consequences. ternationally so that the London Sunday Times
It helps counteract the sense of alienation and ano- (November 29th, 1987) can report, without a hint
mie that Simmel long ago identified as such a prob- of criticism, that "Baltimore, despite soaring
lematic feature of modern city life. It particularly unemployment, boldly turned its derelict harbor
does so when an urban terrain is opened for dis- into a playground. Tourists meant shopping, cate-
play, fashion and the "presentation of self" in a sur- ring and transport, this in turn meant construc-
rounding of spectacle and play. If everyone, from tion, distribution, manufacturing - leading to
punks and rap artists to the "yuppies" and the more jobs more residents, more activity. The de-
haute bourgeoisie can participate in the produc- cay of old Baltimore slowed, halted, then turned
tion of an urban image through their production back. The harbor area is now among America's top
of social space, then all can at least feel some sense tourist draws and urban unemployment is falling
of belonging to that place. The orchestrated pro- fast". Yet it is also apparent that putting Baltimore
duction of an urban image can, if successful, also on the map in this way, giving it a stronger sense
help create a sense of social solidarity, civic pride of place and of local identity, has been successful
and loyalty to place and even allow the urban ima- politically in consolidating the power of influence
ge to provide a mental refuge in a world that capi- of the local public-private partnership that
tal treats as more and more place-less. Urban en- brought the project into being. 1t has brought de-
trepreneurialism (as opposed to the much more fa- velopment money into Baltimore (though it is
celess bureaucratic managerialism) here meshes hard to tell if it has brought more in than it has
with a search for local identity and, as such, opens taken out given the absorption of risk by the public
up a range of mechanisms for social control. Bread sector). It also has given the population at large
and circuses was the famous Roman formula that some sense of place-bound identity. The circus suc-
now stands to be reinvented and revived, while the ceeds even if the bread is lacking. The triumph of
ideology of locality, place and community beco- image over substance is complete.
mes central to the political rhetoric of urban gover-
nance which concentrates on the idea of together-
ness in defense against a hostile and threatening 5. Critical perspectives on the entrepreneurial
world of international trade and heightened com- turn in urban governance under conditions of
petition. inte~urbancompetition
The radical reconstruction of the image of Balti- There has been a good deal of debate in recent
more through the new waterfront and inner-har- years over the "relative autonomy" of the local sta-
bour development is a good case in point. The re- te in relation to the dynamics of capital accumula-
development put Baltimore on the map in a new tion. The turn to entrepreneurialism in urban go-
way, earned the city the title of "renaissance city" vernance seems to suggest considerable autonomy
and put it on the front cover of Time Magazine, of local action. The notion of urban entreprene-
shedding its image of dreariness and impoverish- urialism as I have here presented it, does not in
ment. It appeared as a dynamic go-gettingcity, rea- any way presume that the local state or the broader
dy to accommodate outside capital and to encoura- class alliance that constitutes urban governance is
ge the movement in of capital and of the "right" automatically (or even in the famous "last instan-
people. No matter that the reality is one of increa- ce") captive of solely capitalist class interests o r
sed impoverishment and overall urban deteriora- that its decisions are prefigured directly in terms
tion, that a thorough local enquiry based on inter- reflective of the requirements of capital accumula-
views with community, civic and business leaders tion. O n the surface, at least, this seems to render
identified plenty of "rot beneath the glitter" (Szan- my account inconsistent with that Marxist version
ton, 1986), that a Congressional Report of 1984 of local state theory put forward by, say, Cockburn
described the city as one of the "neediest" in the (1977), and strongly dissented from by a range of
United States, and that a thorough study of the other non-Marxist o r neo-Marxist writers such as

14 GeografiskaAnnaler - 71 6 (1989). 1

Mollenkopf (1983), Logan and Molotch (1987), modes of social and political regulation suited to
Gurr and King (1987) and Smith (1988). Conside- new forms and paths of capital accumulation. If
ration of inter-urban competition, however, indica- this is what is meant by the "relative autonomy"
tes a way in which a seemingly autonomous urban of the local state then there is nothing about it
entrepreneurialism can be reconciled with the al- which makes urban entrepreneurialism in princip-
beit contradictory requirements of continuous ca- le in any way different from the "relative auto-
pital accumulation while guaranteeing the repro- nomy" which all capitalist firms, institutions and
duction of capitalist social relations on ever wider enterprises possess in exploring different paths to
scales and at deeper levels. capital accumulation. Relative autonomy under-
Marx advanced the powerful proposition that stood in this way is perfectly consistent with, and
competition is inevitably the "bearer" of capitalist indeed is constitutive of, the general theory of ca-
social relations in ally society where the circulation pital accumulation to which I would subscribe
of capital is a hegemonic force. The coercive laws (Harvey, 1982). The theoretical difficulty arises,
of competition force individual o r collective agents however, as in so many issues of this type, because
(capitalist firms, financial institutions, states, ci- Marxian as well as non-Marxian theory treats of
ties) into certain configurations of activities which the relative autonomy argument as if it can be con-
are themselves constitutive of the capitalist dyna- sidered outside of the controlling power of space
mic. But the "forcing" occurs after the action relations and as if inter-urban and spatial competi-
rather than before. Capitalist development is al- tion are either non-existent o r irrelevant.
ways speculative - indeed, the whole history of ca- In the light of this argument, it would seem that
pitalism can best be read as a whole series of minu-
scule and sometimes grandiose speculative thrusts
it is the managerial stance under conditions of
weak inter-urban competition that would render
piled historically and geographically orie upon an- urban governance less consistent with the rules of
other. There is, for example, no exact prefiguring capital accumulation. Consideration of that argu-
of how firms will adapt and behave in the face of ment requires, however, an extended analysis of
market competition. Each will seek its own path the relations of the welfare state and of national
to survival without any prior understanding of Keynesianism (in which local state action was em-
what will or will not succeed. Only after the event bedded) to capital accumulation during the 1950s
does the "hidden hand" (Adam Smith's phrase) of and 1960s. This is not the place to attempt such an
the market assert itself as "an a posteriori, nature- analysis, but it is important to recognize that it was
imposed necessity, controlling the lawless caprice in terms of the welfare state and Keynesian com-
of the producers" (Marx, 1967, p. 336). promise that much of the argument over the relati-
Urban governance is similarly and liable to be ve autonomy of the local state emerged. Recogni-
equally if not even more lawless and capricious. zing that as a particular interlude, however, helps
But there is also every reason to expect that such understand why civic boosterism a& urban entre-
"lawless caprice" will be regulated after the fact preneurialism are such old and well-tried tradi-
by inter-urban competition. Competition for in- tions in the historical geography of capitalism
vestments and jobs, particularly under conditions (starting, of course, with the Hanseatic League
of generalised unemployment, industrial restruc- and the Italian City States). The recovery and rein-
turing and in a phase of rapid shifts towards more forcement of that tradition and the revival of inter-
flexible and geographically mobile patterns of ca- urban competition these last two decades, sug-
pital accumulation, will presumably generate all gests that urban governance has moved more
kinds of ferments concerning how best to capture rather than less into line with the naked require-
and stimulate development under particular local ments of capital accumulation. Such a shift requi-
conditions. Each coalition will seek out its distinc- red a radical reconstruction of central to local state
tive version of what Jessop (1983) calls "accumula- relations and the cutting free of local state activi-
tion strategies and hegemonic projects". From the ties from the welfare state and the Keynesian com-
standpoint of long-run capital accumulation, it is promise (both of which have been under strong at-
essential that different paths and different pack- tack these last two decades). And, needless to say,
ages of political, social, and entrepreneurial en- there is strong evidence of turmoil in this quarter
deavours get explored. Only in this way is it pos- in many of the advanced capitalist countries in re-
sible for a dynamic and revolutionary social sys- cent years.
tem, such as capitalism, to discover new forms and It is from this perspective that it becomes pos-

GeografiskaAnnaler . 71 B (1989) . I 15

sible to construct a critical perspective on the con- urban competition is the primary contradiction to
temporary version of urban entrepreneurialism. be addressed. It should be regarded, rather, as a
To begin with, enquiry should focus on the con- condition which acts as a "bearer" (to use Marx's
trast between the surface vigour of many of the phrase) of the more general social relations of any
projects for regeneration of flagging urban econo- mode of production within which that competition
mies and the underlying trends in the urban condi- is embedded. Socialism within one city is not, of
tion. It should recognize that behind the mask of course, a feasible project even under the best of
many successful projects there lie some serious so- circumstances. Yet cities are important power ba-
cial and economic problems and that in many cities ses from which to work. The problem is to devise
these are taking geographical shape in the form of a geopolitical strategy of inter-urban linkage that
a dual city of inner city regeneration and a mitigates inter-urban competition and shifts politi-
surrounding sea of increasing impoverishment. A cal horizons away from the locality and into a more
critical perspective should also focus on some of generalisable challenge to capitalist uneven devel-
the dangerous macroeconomic consequences, opment. Working class movements, for example,
many of which seem inescapable given the coer- have proven historically to be quite capable of
cion exercised through inter-urban competition. commanding the politics of place, but they have
The latter include regressive impacts on the distri- always remained vulnerable to the discipline of
bution of income, volatility within the urban net- space relations and the more powerful command
work and the ephemerality of the benefits which over space (militarily as well as economically) exer-
many projects bring. Concentration on spectacle cised by an increasingly internationalised bour-
and image rather than on the substance of econo- geoisie. Under such conditions, the trajectory ta-
mic and social problems can also prove deleterious ken through the rise of urban entrepreneurialism
in the long-run, even though political benefits can these last few years serves to sustain and deepen
all too easily be had. capitalist relations of uneven geographical devel-
Yet there is something positive also going on opment and thereby affects the overall path of ca-
here that deserves close attention. The idea of the pitalist development in intriguing ways. But a criti-
city as a collective corporation, within which de- cal perspective on urban entrepreneurialism indi-
mocratic decision-making can operate has a long cates not only its negative impacts but its poten-
history in the pantheon of progressive doctrines tiality for transformation into a progressive urban
and practices (the Paris Commune being, of cour- corporatism, armed with a keen geopolitical sense
se, the paradigm case in socialist history). There of how to build alliances and linkages across space
have been some recent attempts to revive such a in such a way as to mitigate if not challenge the
corporatist vision both in theory (see Frug, 1980) hegemonic dynamic of capitalist accumulation to
as well as in practice (see Blunkett and Jackson, dominate the historical geography of social life.
1987). While it is possible, therefore, to character-
ize certain kinds of urban entrepreneurialism as Harvey, D., School of Geography, University of
purely capitalistic in both method, intent and re- Oxford, Mansfield Road, Oxford O X 1 3 TB, U. K.
sult, it is also useful to recognize that many of the
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Geografiska Annaler . 71 El (1989). 1