Hogeschool van Amsterdam

Urban Management

European Cities in the Knowledge-Based Economy: Observations and Policy Challenges

This essay discusses a set of related issues concerning the urban transition towards a knowledge-based economy. First, it deals with the uneven distribution of economic growth among various types of cities in the knowledge-based economy; second, it reflects on emerging economic and social divisions within cities. Does the knowledge economy offer opportunities to repair these social and economic divides or does it deepen them instead? Third, we deal with the alleged new role of institutions of higher education (HEIs). Cities increasingly consider them to be engines of growth in the urban knowledge economy, but is this borne out by reality? Our final topic is concerned with urban planning. Many European cities try to create “knowledge locations”, aiming to promote innovation and creativity in those areas and/or increase the value of the real estate. We add some critical reflections.

First, we discuss the uneven distribution of economic growth among various types of cities in the knowledge based economy. This is a reason for concern, not only for cities (especially disadvantaged ones) but also raises a number of questions for national and regional governments. Second, we deal with economic and social divides within cities. Does the knowledge economy offer opportunities to repair social and economic divides, or rather does it deepen them? A third issue is the alleged role of higher education institutes (HEIs). Cities increasingly consider their HEI’s as engines of growth in the urban knowledge economy, but are they? Our final topic is concerned with urban planning. Many European cities try to create ‘knowledge locations’, aiming to promote innovation and creativity in those areas and/or to increase the value of the real estate. We add some critical reflections. Finally, some governance challenges related to these themes are raised

Reference Van Winden, W. (2009), European Cities in the Knowledge-Based Economy: Observations and Policy Challenges, disP 178, vol. 3, pp. 83-88