Governance Evolution and City Economic Development: Comparing the Pathways of Five British Cities

Authors: Emil Evenhuis*, Geography and Environmental Science
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning, Economic Geography, Urban Geography
Keywords: governance, institutions, policy, economic development, cities, evolutionary economic geography
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Stones Throw 2 - Slate, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

As part of a collaborative project on “Structural Transformation, Adaptability and City Economic Evolutions” (see, we have undertaken a comparative case study of five cities in Britain: Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow, Middlesbrough and Peterborough. The objective was to examine the role of governance and policy with regard to how British cities have dealt with economic change since the early 1970s. In our paper we first detail how we have tried to overcome the methodological and analytical problems which normally plague research on institutions and policies, especially with regard to identifiability, comparability, attribution, and representativeness. We have attempted to develop a particular ‘evolutionary approach’, which focuses on the conjunction of on the one hand the evolution over time of governance arrangements and policies at different scales (local, regional and national) with respect to these five cities, and on the other hand the development of the economies of these cities. We then discuss the main findings: (1) different cities have faced different economic development challenges; (2) the national policy context in the UK went through various shifts and has exacerbated the divergent development between cities; (3) the evolution of governance arrangements in the five cities is marked by continual churn; (4) the economic development policies for the cities have one-sidedly focused on urban regeneration and the development of their central core; and (5) British cities have overall been poorly equipped in terms of institutions, powers and resources to respond to and proactively engage with economic change.

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