2001 volume 33(8) pages 1411 – 1429
doi:10.1068/a33142

Cite as:
Deas I, Giordano B, 2001, "Conceptualising and measuring urban competitiveness in major English cities: an exploratory approach" Environment and Planning A 33(8) 1411 – 1429

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Conceptualising and measuring urban competitiveness in major English cities: an exploratory approach

Iain Deas, Benito Giordano

Received 10 August 2000; in revised form 31 May 2001

Abstract. Recent years have witnessed considerable academic debate with regard to the ways in which urban competitiveness can best be conceptualised and measured. In this paper we draw on these theoretical discussions in an attempt to interrogate the dynamics of competitiveness. We report on research to develop indicators to explore the relationship between sources (the initial stock of assets in a city) and outcomes of competitiveness (the result of attempts to exploit these assets by firms) across a sample of urban areas. We argue that urban asset bases provide a strong predictor of competitive performance in English cities, but that this general pattern is interrupted by some cities for which competitive outcomes are stronger or weaker than might be expected in light of underlying asset bases. The study findings provide some tentative methodological suggestions, augmenting the limited volume of empirically focused work regarding the means by which different aspects of the contested concept of competitiveness might best be measured. The findings also illustrate the differing competitive fortunes of major English cities and provide pointers with regard to priorities for policymakers in moulding and managing urban asset bases.

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