This month the Curmudgeon is wandering into the politics and local economic development topic. But warning is in order; the pompous fool is not going to concern himself with the obvious everyday practitioner concern of how to best cope with the deleterious effects of political meddling into solid and effective local programs and initiatives. Instead, the old codger is delving into various “theories” of local politics and their implications on local economic development. This is on top of last month’s theme of growth and innovation economics in which the Curmudgeon again focused on “theories”, this time economic. What is with this fascination with “theories”?
The topic this month is urban political science theories and approaches. The question we pose is if urban political scientists offer any guidance to economic developers in field on how to cope with politics in their daily job? Do they provide some description, case studies, outlines or analysis of the forces which whipsaw practicing economic developers? Do their theories and approaches offer some degree of understanding what goes on politically with the sub-state politics and program administration? This question allows the Curmudgeon to present a review of how urban political scientists conceptualize urban politics in a vein similar to last month’s assessment of the underlying economic theory of innovation and the knowledge economy. At the same time, the review could offer nuggets of assistance to the struggling economic developer. God knows, the economic developer in the field can use some help with politics.
Innovation or growth economics is everywhere, but should it be taken at face value as a non partisan solution to present day economic woes and the single best strategy for local economic development? Let’s dissect the National Governors Association report, “Innovation America: the Final Report”. Is the really deep down justification for innovation and growth economics political, not economic? Like an iceberg, it’s what you don’t see that sinks ships.
Have you ever noticed that most advocates for innovation and knowledge-based policies simply state that innovation, creativity, entrepreneurism, education are the best strategy for future economic growth in our new global competitive economy? Where’s the Proof? On what basis can they make that claim which most of us blindly accept? Let’s take a look at the little known economic “theory” which supports the innovation and knowledge-based “growth economics”.
Written for those of us who speak only English, not Economese!
Rather than choose any one book or article in which the Curmudgeon will dutifully at least attempt to summarize– before burying it in skepticism if not outright hostility, the Curmudgeon will drop all pretenses of objectivity and offer what he can best describe as an essay.
We are six months old. Did you ever think we would be around and kicking for so long? Not sure the Curmudgeon did, but judging by informal comments and reactions of our readership we seem to be filling a niche—a cranky (and sometimes windy) niche to be sure. But with the support of the C2ER Board of Directors/Management, especially a young lady named Rebecca, we are not only continuing but building upon our own knowledge-based, innovative and creative initiative (the Journal-in case you weren’t sure what the initiative was). Our success creates, not surprisingly, the need for bureaucracy. We are pleased to announce that we have not one, but two, Assistant Editors (William Cook and Kevin McAvey) and our Creative Visual Specialist, and office mate, Spencer Abrams.
Throw a rock out of any window these days and you’ll hit something written about regionalism, clusters, knowledge-based economy or innovation. Choosing to review any of these topics is an invitation to have your eyes burst from the strain of having to review the literature in order to choose an appropriate work to discuss. McGahey’s Regional Economic Development in Theory and Practice is in the Curmudgeon’s opinion one of the better discussions on regionalism that has been published in recent years. McGahey’s article offers important insights into current regional thinking. But it also forces the Curmudgeon to backfill the reader on a wide variety of past regionalist movements which have occurred over the last fifty-sixty years. Each movement or set of initiatives was distinctively inspired by a then in vogue perspective of why regionalism was desirable and necessary. The tale has evolved over the years, but in many ways seems to have remained in its essentials, rather constant. How current regionalism may have evolved from our historical past should shed some light into its essential message.
As the reader might expect, the Curmudgeon approaches the topic in his own unique fashion. Usually a discussion on regionalism contains a set of reasons why one has to be a dolt not to do it; offers some sort of virtually inevitable promise of almost certain revitalization; and then ends with a plaintive scream of frustration that evil forces are still blocking its success. The Curmudgeon has heard calls by someone or other to regionalize from day one of his professional career and as he sails ever closer to the sunset, he is still hearing cries to regionalize. Enough already! Why can’t we regionalize?
Taking a long term perspective in his first article, the Curmudgeon tries to better understand the roots of our current regionalism and to offer some ideas as to why it has faced constant opposition or at least apathy. In his second article, the Curmudgeon reviews the latest effort on Regionalism by the Center for Competitiveness and calls attention to the relatively recent marriage of a young and charming concept called clusters to an older, somewhat weathered spouse called regionalism. He offers his ever cherished advice on the prospects of the union.
The awareness of regionalism has prospered greatly from its linkage and relationship to the clusters approach and cluster’s derivative approaches (innovation, knowledge-based economic development, and entrepreneur or start up).
The Curmudgeon has followed Rybczynski since he first read, HOME, back in the 1980’s. Occupationally Rybczynski is an architectural critic but he is much more than that. His written works have been excellent and critically acclaimed and his latest work, Makeshift Metropolis, ought to be read by serious scholars and practitioners alike. Makeshift offers a […]