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How effective are cities as sites for managing global competitiveness?

Abstract

Examinations into the political geography of globalisation have been dominated by the growth of a global information grid in shaping today's mobile global economic network. Consequently, the role of urban strategic hubs in directing this process has been marginalised. This study therefore examines the local dynamics to globalisation within 'glocal' city spheres, and the relationship between these world cities and the territorial states that manage them in configuring channels of global capitalism. Modern globalisation would not be possible without the implementation of economic market and capital processes through local, centralised strategic centres. In the neo-liberal global political economy, economic enterprises cannot simply relocate anywhere. This global informational economy requires a substantial physical and political infrastructure to sustain it, and so the global city acts as the sine qua non for global capital expansion in an 'urban centre-inspired system of relations in economics, politics, culture and communications'. Accordingly, an exploration of 'urban centre-inspired' governance is essential when considering the trajectory of globalisation and its relation to State and society.

Networks constitute the new social morphology of our societies, and the diffusion of networking logic substantially modifies the operation and outcomes in processes of production, experience, power, and culture… the new information technology paradigm provides the material basis for its pervasive expansion throughout the entire social structure… this networking logic induces a social determination of a higher level than that of the specific social interests expressed through the networks: the power of flows takes precedence over the flows of power.

The power of flows and the networking logic that mediates specific social or political interests are key elements to a polyarchal management of the urban political economy. This study has sought to demonstrate the pervasiveness of this unspoken rule to politics in state and urban management in influencing globalisation and the need for a concerted pluralistic political programme to future urban policy. The rebirth of cities as networks of connectivity provides the perfect foundation for the political effectiveness of pluralism to be played out. Pluralism is the only political strategem that can react flexibly to a constantly changing and unpredictable international economic order. The need to combine the local with the regional, national and the global, and civic society with the elite interests of corporate, political and social pressure groups, are beyond alternative political approaches. It requires a political plan that can bring diverse groups together to achieve a consensus. Pluralism is the only political methodology that can achieve this feat.

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