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Competitiveness AND Sustainability: Can ‘Smart City Regionalism’ Square the Circle?


  • Tassilo Herrschel


Increasingly, the widely established, globalisation-driven agenda of economic competitiveness meets a growing concern with sustainability. Yet, the practical and conceptual co-existence—or fusion—of these two agendas is not always easy. This includes finding and operationalising the ‘right’ scale of governance, an important question for the pursuit of the distinctly transscalar nature of these two policy fields. ‘New regionalism’ has increasingly been discussed as a pragmatic way of tackling the variable spatialities associated with these policy fields and their changing articulation. This paper introduces ‘smart (new) city-regionalism’, derived from the principles of smart growth and new regionalism, as a policy-shaping mechanism and analytical framework. It brings together the rationales, agreed principles and legitimacies of publicly negotiated polity with collaborative, network-based and policy-driven spatiality. The notion of ‘smartness’, as suggested here as central feature, goes beyond the implicit meaning of ‘smart’ as in ‘smart growth’. When introduced in the later 1990s the term embraced a focus on planning and transport. Since then, the adjective ‘smart’ has become used ever more widely, advocating innovativeness, participation, collaboration and co-ordination. The resulting ‘smart city regionalism’ is circumscribed by the interface between the sectorality and territoriality of policy-making processes. Using the examples of Vancouver and Seattle, the paper looks at the effects of the resulting specific local conditions on adopting ‘smartness’ in the scalar positioning of policy-making.

Suggested Citation

  • Tassilo Herrschel, 2013. "Competitiveness AND Sustainability: Can ‘Smart City Regionalism’ Square the Circle?," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 50(11), pages 2332-2348, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:urbstu:v:50:y:2013:i:11:p:2332-2348

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    Cited by:

    1. Naoki FUJIWARA, 2019. "International City Network and Public-Private Cooperation Japanese Public Water Services’ Overseas Expansion," CIRIEC Working Papers 1909, CIRIEC - Université de Liège.
    2. Si Ying Tan & Araz Taeihagh, 2020. "Smart City Governance in Developing Countries: A Systematic Literature Review," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(3), pages 1-29, January.
    3. Castán Broto, Vanesa, 2017. "Urban Governance and the Politics of Climate change," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 1-15.
    4. Camboim, Guilherme Freitas & Zawislak, Paulo Antônio & Pufal, Nathália Amarante, 2019. "Driving elements to make cities smarter: Evidences from European projects," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 142(C), pages 154-167.
    5. Richard Hu, 2015. "Sustainability and Competitiveness in Australian Cities," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(2), pages 1-21, February.
    6. Gerd Lintz, 2016. "A Conceptual Framework for Analysing Inter-municipal Cooperation on the Environment," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 50(6), pages 956-970, June.

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