Harvey, David (1989), “From Managerialism to Entrepreneurialism: The Transformation in Urban Governance in Late Capitalism,” Geografiska Annaler B. 71: 3-17.

General Remarks David Harvey has been one of the most influential figures and prolific writers in Geography. In fact his influence goes much beyond our field – he is also well known in Sociology and Anthropology. This 1989 article of Harvey’s is, in a sense, a prelude to one of his very most influential volumes, The Conditions of Postmodernity (1989, Blackwell), which has formed the basis for a whole generation of work on the urban built environment. Harvey visited our Department last June and gave two seminars in our University. In this paper Harvey notes that beginning from the mid 1970s (more specifically the 1973 Oil Crisis) onwards urban governance (which includes but is not restricted to urban government) has become increasingly preoccupied with the exploration of new ways in which to foster and encourage local development and employment growth. This trend towards “entrepreneurialism”, as Harvey terms it, is in stark contrast to the “managerialism” of the era of the welfare state of the earlier decades in which urban governments were preoccupied with their redistributive role, i.e., the local provision of services and facilities to urban populations. Harvey argues that this fundamental shift in the philosophy and practice of urban governance is related to changes in the macro-economy. In particular the globalization process has brought with it increasing instability, as manifested in the deindustrialization of certain areas of the former industrial core and the declining power of the nation-state to control multinational capital flows, that forces urban governments to take a more pro-active stance. The gradual penetration of post-Fordist mode of production or flexible accumulation also has a role to play. Governance and Government In analysing the nature of urban entrepreneurialism, Harvey points out that it is important to specify who is being entrepreneurial and about what. Here Harvey uses the term “governance” rather than “government” in that urban entrepreneurialism goes beyond the latter. More specifically, he argues that the power to organize space derives from a whole complex of forces mobilized by diverse agents. Formation of coalition politics underlies much of urban entrepreneurialism: local chamber of commerce, local financiers, industrialists, property developers, etc. Such coalition tends to be fluid and takes on various forms. Personality, particularly the availability of charismatic figures, could have a significant part to play, exerting profound influence on the exact form of the coalition and hence the direction of urban entrepreneurialism.

Public-private Partnership Public-private partnership, in which a traditional boosterism is integrated with the use of local government powers, has been a celebrated form of urban entrepreneurialism as this is often associated with job creation and the injection of scarce financial resource for the undertaking of urban infrastructure development and face-lifting projects for the city. Examples of public-private partnerships include new civic centres, industrial parks, waterfront development projects, etc. In the case of Hong Kong, perhaps one of the most controversial public-private projects is the Cyberport. Another equally celebrated example is the Hong Kong Disneyland. There are older examples: the container ports in Kwai Chung and Tsing Yi, the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, and the three industrial estates. Harvey argues, however, such public-private partnership could be a source of urban instability and malaise. In particular, public-private partnership projects are inherently speculative in execution and design as the risk is to a large extent borne by the “public”. These projects contribute to the problem of over investment and over accumulation and therefore the periodic crisis characterizing capitalism. In the urban realm they act as barriers to rational planning and coordinated development. Moreover, such projects are concerned with construction of place (the image of a specific place) and the enhancement of property values rather than the amelioration of conditions (housing, health, poverty, etc) of the territory (or city) where the place is located. Forms of Urban Entrepreneurialism 1. Creation of particular advantages for the production of goods and services. The locality often offers to the investor a substantial package of aids and assistance (e.g. low cost land, tax haven, etc) as inducement. Also the local government may invest heavily in the provision of trained personnel and skill labour. While there are cases in which careful attention to the industrial and marketing mix backed by strong local state action can engender agglomeration economies and bring about rapid economic growth, cases in which such initiatives are ill-conceived resulting only in draining of the locality’s resources, are many times more frequent. 2. Investments to attract consumption dollars, such as projects to attract tourists and retired people. This is to transform the city so as to make it an innovative, exciting and safe place to visit, to play, and to consume. Gentrification, cultural innovation (the promotion of the city’s heritage, for instance), consumer attractions (convention and shopping centres), entertainment, etc have become more prominent facets for urban regeneration. Spectacles and display are all symbols of the city’s dynamism. 3. Struggle over the acquisition of key control and command functions in high finance, government, and information processing, or, in short, the context for the world city status. Thus we see massive investments in new airports and telecommunications

facilities. Also premium is given to certain kinds of education, namely, business and law, media skills, high-tech production, etc. 4. Coalition between the local government and local business to strive for central government subsidy and investment. Inter-city Competition and the Creation of Post-Modern Landscapes Urban entrepreneurialism implies mounting inter-city competition. This, in turn, exerts an external coercive power over individual cities to conform to the discipline and logic of capitalist accumulation. A consequence of this is to render a certain degree of uniformity to all cities: the provision of good business climate. However, with the diminution of transport and communication costs, the significance of the qualities of place has been enhanced. For a given city, this often is associated with a renewed interest in the city’s past or heritage and the cultivation of a physical setting and cultural milieu that distinguish the city from others. “Local coalitions have no option .….. except to keep ahead of the game thus engendering leap-frogging innovations in life styles, cultural forms, products and service mixes.” (p. 12) In this sense, then, there is a clear connection between urban enterpreneurialism and the development of post-modern architectures and urban forms. “The orchestrated production of an urban image can, if successful, also help create a sense of social solidarity, civic pride and loyalty to place.” (p. 14) However, “concentration on spectacle and image rather than on the substance of economic and social problems can also prove deleterious in the long run.” (p. 16)

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful