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City and university in the knowledge age

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The globalized economy remains deeply rooted in historically shaped territories, in opposition to the common-place image of a footloose economy of flows. Regions provide the market economy with immaterial resources essential to its development. This is strongly reinforced, in my opinion, by a range of complex effects primarly linked to the change in competition patterns in global markets. Firms are driven to adopt quality - and innovation-based strategies, and still are obliged to reduce costs. Traditional, rigidly fragmented, Taylorist production organization, highly efficient in a stable price-based competition environment, is becoming counterproductive in this new context. The competitivness of companies lies no longer in the mere intensification of work and traditional productivity effects. It results mainly from the density and the relevance of co-operation established between the different actors in a value chain. And this co-operation cannot be set up - this is the point I wish to emphasize - either by the decisionmaking of a more or less centralized technostructure or through sheer market forces. The ability to promote inter-firm co-operation and confidence, to share values and anticipations, the convergence of projects, the relevance of institutionnal frames and finally the quality of local public and private governance are the key factors of success, instead of traditional geographic location factors, more or less neutralized by the decrease of communication costs. In other words, the key resources for development are socially and politically built up,and not a given of nature, as in the past. Potentially, all regions and cities, whatever their size, stand to benefit from this.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03043790010011227

Publication date: March 1, 2001

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