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The Specialized Cities of the Gulf Cooperation Council: A Case Study of a Distinct Type of Policy Innovation and Diffusion

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This article examines a new phenomenon in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) referred to as specialized cities (SC). These cities, in addition to being new towns, implement innovations in selected policy areas. This article goes beyond describing the spread of SC to answering a broader question: what motivates a GCC country to adopt such policy innovation? After a quantitative overview of the phenomenon, three cases have been selected to cover three main policy areas: energy, health care, and education, in Abu Dhabi Masdar City, Dubai Healthcare City, and Qatar Education City. A preliminary analysis of each of the cases is followed by a comparative approach that aims at discovering similarities and differences, as well as developing the basis for a preliminary analytical model that explains the driving factors behind these innovations. The country adoption of a policy innovation and its diffusion are mainly the results of geographical proximity and similarity, as these proximate countries tend to have similar economic aspects and common social problems that lead to similar policy action effects. Regional competition and positive reputational mechanisms are also particularly strong determinants for diffusion. The findings suggest that in the GCC region a diffusion of the phenomena is occurring, rather than that of a specific type of SC.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: American University of Beirut

Publication date: March 1, 2012

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