Local Leadership in a Global Era: Policy and Behaviour Change in Cities
In this insightful and thoughtfully prepared book, Dr Amy Hochadel draws lessons for local government leaders within globalising metropolitan areas. She reflects on the critical challenges, constraints and choices faced by such leaders in twenty-first-century globalising cities and makes a compelling case that they must address the contradictions and opportunities of our time with proactive leadership and strategies.
This book is grounded in the lived experience of local government leaders in East London, a key area of the UK’s capital city. Here the combined forces of historic deindustrialisation and entrenched social disadvantage, international migration, re-urbanisation and capital investment, hosting the Olympic Games in 2012, the emergence of the innovation economy, future cities’ technologies, public sector austerity and reform, and increased integration and connectivity with London’s global city functions provide a complex and potent mix of diverse social, economic and governance imperatives to which local leaders must respond. Dr Hochadel develops a framework of ideas that The Brooking Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program and Global Cities Initiative crafted during 2013 and 2014, in which we were centrally involved. Coining the phrase “global fluency” with our colleagues Brad McDearman and Joe Parilla we sought to set a framework of ideas for judging how far metropolitan areas were engaging effectively with the opportunity of globalisation.
In The Ten Traits of Globally Fluent Metros Areas (published by Brookings in US and international editions) we defined global fluency as the level of global understanding, competence, practice and reach that a metro area exhibits to facilitate progress towards its desired economic future. We isolated the 10 key traits associated with cities that have achieved global success.
Many of these traits align with the key inputs to economic competitiveness: distinct specialisations, infrastructure, human capital and innovation, capital investment and good governance to name a few. Together, these traits provide one framework for metropolitan leaders to gauge their global starting point. These 10 traits were distilled from our research of more than 40 cities to be strong determinants of a metro area’s ability to succeed in global markets and manage the negative consequences of globalisation. The most successful cities are those that have a long-term outlook and achieve some level of integration between many of the traits. Dr Hochadel digested the implications of this research and set about her own original work to see how far the traits would help to illuminate the leadership challenges in East London, specifically in the boroughs of Hackney, Tower Hamlets, and Barking & Dagenham. This book is the culmination of that endeavour.
The book provides significant and valuable insights for local government leaders and scholars of political science, city and regional planning, geography and economics. Her key insights surround the importance of proactive leadership. The core observation is that leadership style, strategy and communication are the critical ingredients in helping local government to align with global opportunities that can bring jobs, population, investment and amenities to a locality, and simultaneously find means to manage the distortions that such changes may bring.
Dr Hochadel’s analysis reaffirms the distinctive contribution of local leadership to metropolitan areas. Such areas, as they globalise, need effective local roadmaps, visions and identities if they are to optimise the benefits that globalisation can bring. Regional strategies alone will not provide the mosaic of adjustments and improvements required locally to make globalisation work. In arguing for, and illustrating, how local leadership contributes to these processes of change in metropolitan areas, Dr Hochadel has an added important local character and evidence base to a body of knowledge that all too often reflects principally on regional aggregates and average situations. The distinctive approaches and different solutions adopted by the three municipalities at the heart of this book illuminate key choices and variables of how leaders might shape their own globalisation agendas.
This compelling book addresses an essential priority that chimes with the emerging global consensus on the Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda. It argues not just that metropolitan areas must adjust to a globalising economic system, but that local governments must, at least in part, lead that process of adjustment and pursue transformational change. To do that, local government leaders need to adopt effective strategies, and as they do so, it becomes clear that important reforms in public finance and institutional development are required. Anyone reading this excellent book cannot fail to observe that the empowerment of local government institutions is an essential element of the means to make globalisation a force for improving the urban quality of life.
London, UK Greg Clark
2017 Tim Moonen
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