2. Cities locked in economy

 Coordinators:

Iwona Sagan (University of Gdansk, geois@univ.gda.pl)
Linze Shaap (Tilburg University, l.schaap@tilburguniversity.edu)

Economies of many cities become locked into development paths that lose dynamism, whilst other cities’ economies seem able to avoid this danger and in effect are able to ‘reinvent’ themselves through successive new paths or phases of development. City governments are increasingly taking an active role in economic development, working to attract and retain businesses and residents. What are strategies of cities and their leaders to enhance cities’ economic development and competitiveness?

The global financial crisis has had a significant impact on the situation of European cities. Cities are where austerity bites. However, never equally. A larger number of struggling cities have been attempting to manage, in the context of falling revenues and often structural deficits, step-change reductions in staffing and service levels. Other cities in such circumstances have been looking for new solutions, have been trying to drive innovations in outsourcing and privatization. In addition, austerity policies pursued by governments across Europe have resulted in local governments seeking new forms of service provision and new relationships with other potential providers, as well as partnerships with other stakeholders at the more strategic level. How did cities react to the economic/ financial crisis? In particular, to what extent did/do they consider cooperation with other actors as a way out?

New Public Management created a vast range of new tools which promised increasing effectiveness of political management in cities. On the other hand there are various threats for democracy resulting from NPM reforms. Especially the threats for accountability and public control are considered. One of the main questions posted in this track is: can we identify local government reforms in which NPM instruments such as public-private partnerships coexist with democratic governance? Does a transfer of the operations of government to nongovernmental sphere lead to an era of post-politics? Some urban leaders are disappointed with NPM as a tool bringing cost savings and better economic performance and some of them choose to put the municipality, hence political decision-making, back in the centre of local policies. How do cases of re-municipalization change the dynamics of cooperation with businesses?