One of the most important contributions of the study is the establishment of a database of 9 objective indicators of the 500 sample cities, an action never before tried in the world. This data enabled us to conduct analysis and comparison through a number of different approaches, and to draw valuable findings. We conducted overall analysis of the 9 indicators of the 500 sample cities through dynamic clustering methods and processes. Based on the dynamic clustering theory, we used the SPSS model to conduct clustering analysis for the 9 explicit indicators of the 500 sample cities, and divided the samples into 10 classes (see Table 8.1). Based on the above theory, we revised the results repeatedly with SPSS, and obtained 10 final cluster centers for each of the 9 explicit indicators.
Cities of cluster 1 usually have world-leading economy size, per capita GDP, productivity, GDP per square kilometer, patent applications, and number of transnational companies, as well as a relatively high employment rate and economic growth. Cities of cluster 1 are New York and London. As global economic centers, they are getting stronger and stronger, and leading other cities by increasingly clear advantages.
Cluster 2 cities have relatively high per capita GDP, productivity and GDP per square kilometer. However, they are restricted by relatively small economic size and weak decision-making ability. Particularly, they have very low or even negative economic growth. There are 22 such cities in total, including Manchester, Lyon, Berlin, Kyoto and Kobe. Most of these cities are regional centers with a splendid history, but signs of economic decline.
Cluster 3 cities usually have strong economic growth, in spite of limited edge in per capita income, productivity, economic clustering, economy size, and ability of innovation. In total, there are 3 such cities. In fact, the cluster should include Las Vegas and a number of others. They are special cities that depend on special service industries. Currently, they have strong momentum of development.
Cluster 4 cities usually have low per capita income, productivity and economic clustering, weak innovation ability and economic control, low economic growth and little price advantage. In total, there are 100 such cities, distributed mainly in developed countries or the peripheral of global economic centers. As less developed cities in developed countries, they tend to have weak competitiveness and slow economic development.
Cluster 5 cities have relatively high per capita GDP, productivity and GDP per square kilometer. However, compared with London and New York, they have lower indicators in terms of GDP size, patent application, and number of transnational companies. In spite of high employment rate and economic growth, they do not have a clear competitive edge in terms of prices. In total, there are 64 such cities, mostly international cities in developed regions. In general, such cities can be divided into two classes. The first class includes cities that have been and are still among the developed cities, including Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Frankfurt, Munich, Milan, Amsterdam and Rotterdam, which have strong competitiveness and momentum of development. The second class includes many cities that were once less developed, e.g. those in the Scandinavian region and the west coast of the Untied States such as Dublin, Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki, Copenhagen, Los Angles, Seattle, Phoenix, San Francisco, San Jose, San Diego and Melbourne. Once in the peripheral of global economic centers, these cities are on their way to becoming regional centers. With strong competitiveness and momentum, they are quickly surpassing their rivals.
Cluster 6 cities tend to have low GDP, per capita GDP, productivity, GDP per square kilometer, patent applications, and number of transnational companies. However, they have a competitive edge in prices and dynamic economic growth. In total, there are 102 such cities, including many regional centers (instead of national economic and political centers) in China, Russia, Mexico, India and other emerging countries and countries undergoing transformation. Most of these cities, e.g. Minsk, Omsk, Tianjin, Suzhou, Baku and Manaus are located at advantageous regions outside global economic centers and on the rise.
Cluster 7 cities are Tokyo and Paris, both with world-leading economic size, development level, productivity, technological innovation and decision-making ability. However, they have maintained low economic growth. During the 2001-2005 timeframe, the economic growth of Paris was 1% and that of Tokyo was as low as 0.1%, showing signs of decline.
Cluster 8 cities have prominent price advantages. However, they tend to be the weakest by other indicators, particularly per capita income and patent applications, negative economic growth and low employment rate. In total, there are 29 such cities, which are mostly located in Africa, and the Caribbean region, as well as the warring countries and regions in East Europe and Asia, including Sarajevo, Belgrade, Groznyj, Baghdad, Kabul, Port Au Prince, Tripoli, Addis Ababa, Nairobi, Djibouti and Kampala. Most of these cities are located in the peripheral of the world economy. As they continue to decline, they are expanding the gap between them and other cities.
Cluster 9 cities have distinct price advantages, but are weak in terms of other indicators. However, they have much better overall performance than cluster 8, the worst performing cities. In total, there are 150 such cities, mostly central cities with weak competitiveness in smaller economies in Asia, Europe and Latin America, e.g. Baltimore, Kaohsiung, Pusan, Rio de Janeiro and Cape Town.
Cluster 10 cities have prominent price advantages, but relatively low per capita income, productivity, and GDP per square kilometer. They have leading economic size, patent application and number of transnational companies and high economic growth and employment rate. In total, there are 29 such cities, mostly political and economic centers in emerging countries undergoing transformation and industrialization in East Europe, South Europe, Asia and South Africa, e.g. Prague, Moscow, Beijing, Singapore, Dubai, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires and Alaska. Most of them are located at the centers of peripheral of the world economy and rising fast.
The above clustering shows that, in global economic centers, top ranking cities are getting increasingly stronger and expanding the gap with other cities. Some other cities are relatively weak, with slowing-down, or even declining economies. Many cities in the relatively peripheral of the world economy are rising fast and surpassing rivals. In the periphery of the world economy, cities have extremely low competitiveness and continue to decline. Some central cities or those with distinct advantage in geographic location are rising fast. It proves that the economic globalization and fast evolving technologies have brought both the opportunity of a fast rise and the threat of decline to cities around the world, big or small, developed or undeveloped, currently on the rise or on the fall. Given the context of global competition, the relations between cities across the world are getting increasingly uncertain. For each city, anything is possible. On the other hand, every city should take positive actions in accordance with rules to avoid failure and achieve success.
What have city governments around the world been doing?
In face of the opportunities and challenges of globalization, informatization, urbanization, and the increasingly fierce competition in the world market, central and local governments have been taking actions since the beginning of the new century to consolidate their positions, move upward along the value chain, lead the trends, catch up with and surpass world leaders, and improve their global competitiveness.
Adopting development strategies, plans and guidelines
City governments around the world are adopting development plans to guide the fast development of their cities. Dubai has identified the strategic objective of being the No.1 in the world. London has adopted a series of strategic development plans, including London Innovation Strategy and Action Plan 2003-2006 and London: Cultural Capital, the Mayor’s Culture Strategy to implement a strategic development of cooperation with other major cities in the world. Vienna is adopting a strategy with international identities to facilitate industrial development with music and to develop the hi-tech industry. Many other cities, including Sydney and Melbourne have developed their 2030 visions.
Improving business environment and supporting the development of SMEs
Employment is the foundation of the welfare of the people. Many city governments are taking positive actions to improve their business environment and establish their service systems to support the development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs). They have realized that SMEs are key to a robust local economy. In spite of their sizes, the achievements of SMEs prove to be the foundation of their cities. In Osaka, there are SME-oriented financial institutions, the Japan Finance Corporation for Small and Medium Enterprise, National Life Finance Corporation, Credit and Insurance Corporation for Small and Medium Enterprise and Corporation for the Support of Small and Medium Enterprise established to provide services to SMEs and to develop SME entrepreneurs. Similarly, Singapore, the United States, Canada, the EU, and almost every other country in the world has adopted policies to support SMEs as one of the top priorities.
Promoting the upgrading of industries and achieving the transformation of the cities
The adjustment and upgrade of industrial structures will ultimately decide to what extent the functions of a city can be improved, and what position it will take along the value chain. Promoting industrial upgrade is the permanent theme of development for cities. Birmingham, which was a star city during the industrial revolution, has taken a series of actions in line with the latest changes in the market to integrate its traditional culture with the service sector. Today, it is admired for its tourism and cultural industries and its successful transformation. From a small port city on the south coast of the Arabian Peninsula, Dubai has grown into an appealing international tourism city, as well as an international financial center. The secret of its success lies in its unyielding transformation and industrial upgrade. From canal operation in the 1970s to international trade in the 1980s to tourism in the 1990 to high-end service sector in the first decade of the 21st century, every step is a link in Dubai’s history of industrial transformation, which proves to be a successful model for other cities.
Implementing national life-long education program and attracting talents from around the world
It is generally accepted that human resources is the most important contributor to competitiveness. Cities are taking various actions to attract talented individuals from around the world and develop human resources internally. New York has announced to increase input in education and human resources development, and to implement intelligent children education. While highlighting the importance of education, it is assigning an increasingly significant role to the education sector. Regarding people as a resource, Paris has introduced effective measures to integrate diploma education with certificate examination and special training to create a sound room of development for its citizens and fair market opportunities. In addition, it has adopted strict rules for on-job training, expenses and mechanisms concerned. For example, it orders that each enterprise shall pay an employee training fee not less than 1% of the total payrolls to support on-job training. Tokyo is known for its powerful research institutions. Yet it is also trying to attract talents by creating a sound research and living environment. In 2004, the largest economic body in the city—Japan Federation of Economic Organizations proposed to extend the visa of each foreign student for 2-3 years, even if he/she cannot find a job. Helsinki has adopted a number of economic policies to encourage innovation. The first one is for the attraction and retaining of talent. It aims at improving the internationalization level and influence of local universities to build Helsinki into an international education and research base by improving the service to foreign students and researchers. Singapore offers a series of preferential treatments to foreign laborers and technicians concerning salary, residence, spouse arrangement and taxation. The government has specifically established a Professional Profile and Employment Intermediary Service Committee and a Foreign Talent Absorption Committee to attract human resources in larger scope and at higher level.
Focusing on environmental protection and pursuing sustainable development
Known as a “garden city” across the world, Singapore is highly concerned with environmental protection and has introduced intensive publicity programs for the purpose. With a very substantial investment in environmental infrastructure development and energy utilization, and strict law enforcement, Singapore is able to maintain the image of world-famous garden city. In Sustainable Sydney 2030, Sydney announced the goal of becoming a “world leading city with a beautiful environment” and its plan to build a green urban transport network. In the meantime, it is going to develop infrastructures for sustainable energy and water resource utilization and wastewater treatment in an effort to satisfy the resource demand and further improve the efficiency of resource utilization.
Shaping brand images and staging marketing programs for their cities
Cities around the world have realized that improving their brand images and promoting themselves to the world would be helpful to bring local industries into the world market. As an old Chinese saying goes, “a brewery located in a long valley needs to promote itself no matter how good its beer is”. In this respect, the marketing efforts of Seoul have been really remarkable. In 1988, Seoul hosted the 24th Olympic Games and the 10th Asian Games, which turned out to be the start of the city’s massive marketing campaign. At the end of 2003, the city government adopted Strategic Marketing Plan to Build Seoul into A First-Class City in the 21st Century proposed by South Korean Advertising Society. In the same year, it appointed 13 celebrities and the image ambassadors of the city. A series of intensive marketing festivals, exhibitions, cultural/sports events and online marketing campaigns eventually delivered satisfactory results. Sydney, on the other hand, leveraged its global Olympic tourism strategy to build world-class tourist resorts and golf courses. In addition, many other cities are introducing their own marketing campaigns, e.g., “Special Singapore”, “Flying Dragon Hong Kong”, “Infinite Toronto”, “Smiling Glasgow” and “New York, with Love”.
Building service-oriented governments with business-level management
Worldwide, major international cities are introducing positive actions to enhance their management level. Phoenix, an important city in the western United States has announced that it will adopt business-level management and operations, whereby the city council is regarded as a corporation, and citizens its shareholders and customers. By paying taxes, Phoenix citizens are buying the stocks and services of that corporation. The innovative idea has improved the service awareness of the public and the sense of responsibility of the government with satisfactory result. The business-level government management idea is a good example to learn from.
Building the city of innovation and the city of knowledge
Cities around the world, particularly, those in developed countries are taking actions to enhance their positions in the field of science and technology, and leverage knowledge to promote their development. Through industrial agglomeration, Stockholm is pushing for the industrialization of the hi-tech sector and the commercialization of its knowledge assets, and is encouraging innovation and risk-taking. Shenzhen, on the other hand, has been strengthening its intellectual property rights protection, helping businesses to solve the financing problem for their R&D activities, and building a “virtual university town” and a “Shenzhen International Hi-tech Business Platform”. Helsinki has identified the hi-tech manufacturing as its pillar industry. It is taking opportunities in the information-technology market to guide the development of the semiconductor and biotech sectors. Vienna is building its science and technology center. Melbourne has announced to develop a knowledge-based city. Many other cities, including Boston, Sydney, Ruhr, Helsinki, Glasgow, Birmingham, Huddersfield and Montpellier are committed to the development of cities of innovation or knowledge-based cities.
Developing information networks to build the wireless city
Information network is the focal point of the infrastructure development competition among international cities, as well as a requirement of the global Internet economy. New York, for example, has announced an online city development plan to lead the information revolution. Taipei and Pusan are doubtlessly shining stars in this contest. With the vision for a “convergent city”, Pusan is engaged in the development of a modern, convergent and digital, intelligent city based on Samsung’s Ubigate series of convergent network products. In the meantime, it is integrating its port, transport, conference, medical and a number of other service systems, with the aim of becoming the first city in the world to introduce a comprehensive “convergence architecture”. Taipei initiated a networked city development plan in 1999. Based on Guidelines for Phased Development of a New Networked City, it developed Taipei Wireless Broadband Network Development Program to promote the application of wireless network and the relevant services, and to achieve the goal of “wireless Taipei, infinite Taipei”.
Shaping the identities of the cities by fostering diversified cultures
The higher-level competition among cities is the competition of cultures. As the leaders in the world, the world cities are facing particularly fierce competition in terms of cultural strategy and innovation. Cities around the world are working hard to protect their heritages, promote their own cultures, shape their own identities, attract migrants, advocate convergence and foster a diversified culture. In the field of cultural diversification, Toronto has made really remarkable achievements, as it is called “the melting pot of world cultures”. New York and London are engaged in the development of a diversified culture, too. Melbourne is trying to develop its cultural industry to attract migrants and foreign students from around the world. It proves to be an effective means to drive the development of the city’s higher education sector, to increase the reserves of its knowledge resources, and to promote its headquarters economy. Vienna has impressed the world with its art and culture. It has received both satisfactory economic benefits and admirable international reputation for its awe-inspiring music art. Based on the traditional oriental culture, the Chinese city of Yangzhou is following a path of sustainable development, and is regarded as a paradigm of success in developing countries.
Attracting multinational companies’ headquarters for decision making and enhancing global connectivity
As key sectors and critical functions of the world economy, finance, R&D, transportation, culture and management directly affect the position of a city in the global industrial chain, which, in turn, affects the distribution of multinational companies. Therefore, cities around the world are taking actions to build international financial, transportation, innovation, cultural and management centers to attract multinational companies and enhance global connectivity. Hong Kong has positioned itself as an Asian metropolis to attract more world-leading multinational companies to move their regional headquarters there and to consolidate its position as an international financial and business service center. Melbourne is trying to improve its business environment to attract more corporate headquarters. The growth of Helsinki is the result of opening up to the world, the lifting of restrictions on foreign capital, the implementation of joint research plans with EU and partnerships with Northern European countries. Dublin, on the other hand, is today the base of the European headquarters of many North American companies. Many Asian cities, including Dubai, Seoul, Shanghai and Mumbai have announced plans to build international financial centers. In Europe, Frankfurt and a number of other cities have announced ambitious plans for the development of financial centers.
In general, cities around the world are taking actions to enhance their strategies, enterprises, industries, human resource reserves, hard/soft environments and global connectivity to consolidate their positions in the global competition and to move upward along the value chain. In a word, the cities are busy, which indicates that the competition among them is getting more and more intensified.
How should city governments handle challenging relations in the future?
As of 2008, 50% of the world population lives in cities. Today is in a real urban era, as the world is at its peak of urbanization. On the one hand, urbanization has promoted economic growth and the potential for world development. On the other hand, it has created severe challenges in the poverty population, housing, and environmental protection. Therefore, governments need to re-examine the sustainable economic, social, environmental, and cultural development of their cities, and make foresighted plans for the education, employment and housing of the large number of immigrants, and build pleasant homes for the people.
In the meantime, technology, information and economic globalization are changing the concept and decision-making processes of economic, technological and social activities worldwide. While enhancing the role of cities in global affairs, they have further intensified the competition among them. For every city, anything is possible in the fierce global competition. They need to take action to maintain their central and leading positions, to avoid being marginalized or in decline. They need to catch up and surpass others by taking opportunities and addressing challenges, leveraging advantages and avoiding disadvantages, and developing and implementing scientific growth strategies and correct competition policies. Only by taking positive strategic actions can the city achieve success and avoid failure.
In this view, central and local governments, as well as relevant government agencies, should properly handle the following general issues in addition to specific problem
Central governments vs. local governments: decentralization
The division of public power, particularly the power of taxation between central and local governments has a significant impact on the development of countries and sub-regions. In the time of globalization, cities are important platforms, as well as transmitters of global competition. In local strategic development, the building of infrastructures, the provision of diversified public products and services, including the provision of compulsory education, the establishment of universities, helping SMEs implement financing programs, providing new enterprises with information needed, and helping companies and research centers establish effective technological connections, handling local affairs and addressing external competition, cities have information and cost advantages.
Therefore, city governments should assume more responsibilities and play more important roles. Central governments should grant more decision making power to city governments to enable active and flexible handling of issues encountered in the competition and development of cities. In the meantime, governments should review their fiscal and taxation systems, and build sound systems allowing proper division of power to enable city governments to better fulfill their duties and support the development of local enterprises and the improvement of public welfare.
Government vs. market: mutual infiltration
The relationship between government and market is a permanent topic worldwide. However, in order to win in the fierce competition, city governments must re-think and adjust their relations with markets. In addition, the governments, which bear more responsibilities for social and economic development, should take actions not only to improve their public service but also to facilitate its restructuring. On the one hand, city governments should take an active part in market competition, create a sound business environment, build a strong brand and increase their appeal to more valuable enterprises. On the other hand, with innovative systems, and extensive applicable technologies, enterprises and non-government organizations are now able to provide more public services and quasi-public services and to improve the efficiency and quality of their service. It is necessary to encourage more enterprises, non-government organizations and private businesses to participate in city management and to build an extensive city governance mechanism.
Globalization vs. localization: take it both ways
The city is a complicated open system. In an integrated world market, every city must carefully handle the relation between globalization and localization. It must have a global mindset and take actions in line with the specific situation in the local market. Cities should grasp the trend in the world market, adopt world-leading standards, comply with the rules of global economic development, draw from the experience of leading cities, develop objectives in line with specific time and local market conditions, and select the right paths and strategies. Cities should facilitate the development of world market-oriented industries, while protecting local industries. The former consists of enterprises with worldwide business presence and leading edges in price and competitiveness, while the latter mainly includes local manufacturing and service enterprises, which are established to ensure the employment and welfare of local people. While ensuring the complete privatization of world market-oriented industries, the approach enables the adoption of proactive social policies toward local economy. To be able to utilize the two types of resources and both markets, cities need to absorb and utilize production factors, talents and resources from around the world, increase global market share and leverage their comparative advantages, which they should try to convert into their competitive advantages in line with their geographic location, industrial features and the availability of capital and human resources.
Industrial upgrading and employment: national life-long education
Industrial upgrading is a permanent theme of development, as well as the momentum of sustainable development for a city. However, industrial upgrading, or the development of high-end industries, would result in higher demand for talent, and the conflict of the human resource supply-demand structures. In other words, while a large number of high-end professionals are needed, many low-end workers would loose their jobs. This has been a challenge for many international cities. The key to solving this challenge is to promote life-long education for every citizen. By building and improving a sound education system, cities would be able to improve the quality and skill structure of their populations, and eventually solve the conflict between employment and industrial upgrading.
Introduction of talents vs. local population: nationwide drive for business startup
The introduction of high-end external talents is a basic strategy to improve competitiveness and achieve sustainable development. Cities across the world are taking actions to attract high-end foreign talent to sustain their own development. These personnel, however, could increase the employment pressure experienced by local citizens. The increasingly sharp conflict between the talented individuals who are imported and the local population has been a challenge for many cities across the world. In order to facilitate development and achieve a win-win outcome for the local population and talented individuals who immigrate, cities need to create a sound business startup environment, guide their citizens to start their own businesses, and to expand the employment market. Through this means, they would be able to achieve growth, allow the sharing of prosperity and fundamentally solve the employment conflict between local population and talents introduced.
Economic development vs. social security: a proper balance needed
It is necessary to ensure the complementation and mutual support of social security and economic development. Social security is the stabilizer of economic development and the foundation of market competition. Economic development is the pillar of social security. The economic strength is critical to the success of the social security system. In view of the fierce competition in the global market, city governments need to provide their citizens with good education, job opportunities and housing, as well as necessary life facilities and public services. In the meantime, they should also try to create a sound business environment, support competitive industries and assume responsibilities for economic development. In this regard, cities in the East and West countries have much to learn from each other. Cities in the developed countries in the West have solid and extensive social security system, but are less motivated and passionate about economic development. Cities in the East, particularly those in East Asia have strong momentum for economic development, but need to do more for their social security.
Specialization v.s. diversification: refocusing strategy
Specialization and diversification are two different strategies for the development of cities. Both have their respective advantages and disadvantages. Specialization could improve efficiency but may result in too few industries in a city. If these industries are not transformed in time, the city would be easily caught in a sector-specific decline. Diversification is helpful for avoiding market risks, but would create too many industries, which would consume resources and affect the economies of scale. To leverage the advantages and avoid the disadvantages, it is necessary for cities to adopt the strategy of refocusing for functional positioning and industrial structure development. That means that they should select neither just one industry, nor numerous industries. Instead, they should select a number of interrelated industries as their pillar industries. This approach could ensure the economic benefits of the specialization model and the stability of the diversification model, and avoid the disadvantages of both.
Business environment v.s. living environment: both are important
Business environment and living environment are both consistent and conflicting. On the one hand, job opportunities are important conditions to support the life of the citizens, while a good living environment could attract high-end talent and is helpful for the development of high-end industries. On the other hand, however, industrial development is often achieved at the cost of life and environmental quality. Overemphasis on the living environment would affect the development of local industries.
Properly handled, the relations between them could facilitate the prosperity of both to the extent possible. Ensuring a good living environment should be regarded as the ultimate objective of industrial development. In the meantime, maximum efforts should be made in the industrial development to ensure the protection of the living environment. The principle of mutual support between the living environment and the business environment should be adopted to build a new mechanism for the sustainable and harmonious development of ecological, cultural and social elements in both the living environment and the business environment.
Cities and rural areas: co-development should be achieved
In countries and regions of low urbanization level, the relation between cities and rural areas is a challenging issue. In highly urbanized countries and regions, the relation between central and peripheral regions is also very complicated. Actions should be taken to handle properly the relations between rural areas and cities to ensure their co-development. Co-development does not mean that cities and rural areas must have identical objectives, tasks and measures. On the contrary, different but mutual supporting tasks and measures should be identified for cities and rural areas in accordance with their specific situations. The market mechanism should be used to ensure a win-win result. In addition, it is necessary to ensure the integration of the soft environment, including mechanisms, management and service, and the hard environment and infrastructures of both cities and rural areas to provide equal opportunities and to allow the sharing of the benefits from external economic development. In view of the relatively weak strength of the rural areas, the government should make up the defect of the market by increasing transfer payment to the rural areas to support their development.
Competition vs. cooperation: both are essential for development
Due to the independence of economic benefits, the scarcity of resources and restriction of the market, competition among cities is inevitable. On the other hand, cities’ differences in natural resources, initial conditions, development paths and the foundations for labor division have paved way for their cooperation. Therefore, competition and cooperation between cities are natural phenomena. However, the competition between cities could be of zero sum, negative sum, or positive sum, i.e., win-win models. A wise city government should employ both competition and cooperation strategies. It shall not sacrifice competition for cooperation, or vice versa. Appropriate competition and cooperation strategies would enable the sharing of the benefits and the taking of opportunities to avoid zero sum or negative sum games and to achieve win-win or success for both.
History vs. future: both should be taken care of
It has been a challenge for economists to handle properly the conflict between history and the present, and that between the present and the future. History could be both a asset and a burden for a city. For the protection of historical heritages, many cities have lost the opportunity to win competition. On the other hand, to ensure a city to win in a future full of uncertainties, it is necessary to save resources and protect the environment at the present time, which could turn out to be restriction of the city. The historical heritages should be protected in ways that would turn them from burdens into fortunes. To win in the future, it is necessary to turn the environment from resources to capital. Therefore, while protecting unique and precious historical heritages and turning them into core assets of a city, it is necessary to introduce protective development measures. On the other hand, environmental protection and eco-city development means should be adopted to increase the appeal of a city to high-end factors and promote industrial upgrading. In the meantime, it is necessary to explore a win-win approach for the coordinated development of the economy, ecology, society and culture, and to facilitate sustained development of the economic, ecological and social systems.
Uniqueness vs. diversity: openness and convergence
The most fundamental form of competition between cities is the competition of cultures. The national identities would most probably be accepted by the world. A competitive culture must be unique in the first place. Unique identity could differentiate a city from its rivals, and become an important cause for its survival and development. In this era of globalization, it is particularly important to maintain the identity and the unique culture of a city. A competitive culture must be an innovative culture at the same time. The convergence and collision of diversified cultures have created the conditions not only for the concentration of the best, but also for the introduction of innovations and creations. To properly handle the relations between local culture and diversification, cities should persist on openness and convergence, which is not to keep all cultures identical, but to absorb and draw from external cultures to create a more competitive and more advanced one while maintaining the identities of their own.
—— From“Global Urban Competitiveness Report（2007-2008）”，Pengfei Ni with Peter Karl Kresl