Last year the Kauffman Foundation, whose mission is heavily oriented around promoting entrepreneurship, asked a diverse group of thinkers to contribute essays to a publication called “The New Entrepreneurial Growth Agenda“, which is now available online. There is a ton of thinking in here, all in the form of easily digestible papers. To see the list of papers organized thematically, like the “Menu” icon in the upper right of the browser.
My contribution to the collection is called “Rethinking America’s Cities’ Success Strategy” and addresses themes I’ve hit before: the structurally weak position of cities in the marketplace, the change the composition of local civic leadership in US cities, and the identification of local elites with global rather than local concerns. Here’s an excerpt:
In addition to weakening the link between the success of business leaders and that of their broader communities, the consolidation and globalization we’ve seen in many industries has resulted in a new affinity between the local elite and those who hold similar positions throughout the world. As business leaders and other elites are no longer as invested in their communities and have fewer economic ties to them, they identify primarily with their global class and have more loyalty to their global brethren in other places than to those who live in the same local region.
Saskia Sassen, a pioneer in research on what are now called “global cities,” identified this trend in her description of the bifurcation of these regions. The global city, in this view, is a kind of city within a city. Richard Longworth at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs noted a similar trend: “Globalization is disconnecting a city from its hinterland.” The global city of the Chicago Loop and North Side, for example, exists in an almost parallel universe to those left behind in the South and West Sides.
The term “elite” may seem inherently pejorative, but all systems have a group of leaders and agenda setters. At the local level, the elite includes prominent business, political, civic, academic, religious, and philanthropic leadership, as well as members of the media and cultural communities. The most educated strata of the community, or, more broadly, the upper middle class, also may be included. This group has best adapted to new economic realities and represents roughly the top 10 percent to15 percent of most communities, though higher in the largest urban centers.
Click through to read the whole thing.
You may also be interested in my list of the various “STEEP” forces affecting cities, the Social, Technical, Economic, Environmental, and Political trends in our world. Here’s a chart with some of those.