The Competitiveness of Cities

by Jörgen Eriksson on August 18, 2014


It was in the news today that London tops Forbes list of the World´s most influential cities in 2014. Forbes lists finance, flight connections, technology industry, number of multinational headquarters and time zone in relation to Asia among the United Kingdom´s capital’s strengths. It also says “A preferred domicile for the global rich, London is not only the historic capital of the English language, which contributes to its status as a powerful media hub and major advertising centre, but it’s also the birthplace of the cultural, legal and business practices that define global capitalism.”

In Forbes list, New York ranks as number two and Paris as number three. No city in the top 20 came from the developing world. I think we can expect that to change in years to come as the power centres of the world migrate towards Asia.

Forbes says “In the past century, the greatest global cities were generally the largest and centres of the world’s great empires: London, Paris, New York and Tokyo. Today size is not so important: Of the world’s 10 most populous cities, only Tokyo, New York and Beijing are in the top 10 of our ranking of the world’s most important cities. Instead, what matters today is influence.”

But what makes a city influential? We can measure that it is, but how does it become so?

In today´s global village, where distance means less than ever before and where cities increasingly compete for capital, talented people, companies and tourists, there the cities competitiveness have become more important than ever.

In 2012, the World Economic Forum identified the leadership role that cities are taking in stimulating the competitiveness of countries and regions as a key issue for further study. Cities have been the engines of productivity and growth throughout history, and will be essential to the future growth and competitiveness of nations and regions. This is especially true at a time of massive and rapid urbanisation in emerging markets.

The Competitiveness of CitiesThe World Economic Forum have issued a report that focus on the competitiveness of cities with examples from a number of countries. In the report, a method to measure city competitiveness was developed, including (1) institutions, (2) policies and regulation of the business environment, (3) "hard connectivity", and (4) "soft connectivity". This was applied to 26 cities, with a mini case study on each, and to a short list of seven cities, each of those with a full case study.

The report also identifies six global "megatrends" especially relevant to cities, being (1) urbanisation, demographics and the emerging middle class; (2) rising inequality; (3) sustainability; (4) technological change; (5) industrial clusters and global value chains; and (6) governance. Led by urbanisation, they condition the greater operating environment for cities around the world. It is up to cities to take advantage of these megatrends, as well as to mitigate negative forces such as rising inequality, pressure on natural resources and the environment, and a diminution of trust in public authorities.

The World Economic Forum have also published a series of blog posts on individual cities as can be seen in the illustration below, making for very interesting reading.

Competitive cities reports

About Jörgen Eriksson :

Jörgen Eriksson is the founder of Bearing and is the Chairman of the firm since it was created. He has successfully expanded Bearing into covering projects on four continents. He is also Adjunct Professor of Innovation Management at the International University of Monaco and at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya in Barcelona and he is an active member of the Founders Alliance organisation.

Working with consulting engagements across Bearings practices, he has over the past fifteen years participated in and supervised a large number of client projects, from innovation system development and place development and branding, to merger and acquisition assignments and leading edge research and business development activities for key clients.

His new book, Branding for Hooligans, will be published in 2015. It is about how innovation and branding are key survival factors in our modern times of hyper competitive markets.

Prior to Bearing, he was Director of Europe, Middle East, and Africa for Trema Treasury Management, a technology and consulting services provider, supplying financial software solutions for the global financial industry, Clients included The European Central Bank, Citibank, SEB, South African reserve Bank, Deutsche Bank, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), as well as many other large financial institutions and Fortune 500 companies.

Early in his career Eriksson was educated at the Stockholm School of Economics, where he studied economics, financial economics and philosophy. He then worked in Scandinavian investment banks and also for the Swedish Institute of National Defense Research.

You can contact Jörgen on e-mail, connect on LinkedIn onörgen-eriksson/0/38/8a0/ and follow him on twitter on joreri508.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Masuod Tabibi August 21, 2014 at 12:52

Receiving this worthwhile book would be appreciated. By receiving and reviewing I try to update my course material in the university based on this recent finding.
Kind regards, MASOUD

Jörgen Eriksson Jörgen Eriksson August 21, 2014 at 13:13

Dear Sir, the book is available for download for free from the World Economic Forum´s web page. There is a link in the article directly to the book.

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