Introduction: From Jacobs to Florida
Planning is what you do as life passes you by, or so John Lennon imagined. In fact the efficacy of planning depends on the scope and integrity of its subject. The larger and more complex the subject, the more we may doubt whether the control that planning implies is possible. Modern economies are such a subject: the innate complexity of economic process means that ‘planning' in this sphere can only provide aspirational statements not guided pathways to the preferred future.
‘Development' is the name given to these guided pathways and economic development was the panacea of all states in the second half of the twentieth century. Of course, poorer states were deemed to need development most urgently – indeed they ended up being called ‘developing states' – and a whole ‘development industry' grew to supply their needs. Looking back on the last century we can see that it was the countries with the most development planning - notable countries in Africa, the continent that carelessly kept losing ‘development decades' - that remained poor. In the special case of the Soviet bloc, especially strong economic development planning even managed ultimately to create new poor societies. This paradox of ‘more planning, less development' is only a paradox for economic development social scientists; for more subtle economic theorists - from Jane Jacobs (1969) to Richard Florida (2004) - the idea that you can simply plan a wealthy future was always nothing more than a worthy illusion, whether socialist or capitalist.
It was with this set of measured opinions in my mind that I read the official Polish document National Development Strategy 2007-2015 (Ministry of Regional Development 2006) – I will refer to it as NDS in what follows. A substantial piece of work (a one hundred page statement plus nearly eighty pages of ‘annex') with 44 contributors listed, NDS defines itself as ‘the principal strategic document defining the goals and priorities of Poland 's social and economic development and the conditions that should ensure this development' (p. 7). From my position I have no problem with the first part of this definition while doubting whether reaching the goals can be ensured. But this document is most definitely not another social science embarrassment à la the development industry; rather it is an intelligent, sophisticated statement drawing on current social science ideas and applying them to the specific problems of this one country. It links economic competition and innovation to issues of infrastructure and social inclusion in the context of possibilities consequent upon joining the EU. In other words, NDS is a development document that is just about as good as social scientists can expect; it provides an ideal test of my initial opinions.
Social and economic development is a very broad subject and I am going to focus my engagement with the development strategy to its spatial planning components. This is seen by the writers of the document to be a key element of the strategy and it is one particularly pertinent direction from which to approach the economic complexity that any ‘national development' has to deal with. Quite simply, contemporary economic globalization appears to make spatial planning a relict of a by-gone age.
The paper consists of three main parts: first, a critique of spatial planning through expansion of my initial position rehearsed above; second, an interrogation of the strategy document in the light of this critique; and third, a consideration of how to go beyond the document using recent empirical work on cities in globalization.
cities in Economic Development
My starting premise is that cities are essential loci for any sustainable economic development. Cities are where the processes that generate economic growth are concentrated. The advantage of such clustering for economic growth is widely accepted in economics (e.g. Porter 1998) and Jacobs' (1969) early work on how cities create economic expansion has been rediscovered (Glaeser et al 1992). For Jacobs such expansion entails the generation of ‘new work' to create a more complex division of labour. Drawing inspiration from Jacobs, Florida (2004) has recently identified the rise of a creative class in cosmopolitan cities as the source contemporary economic expansion. Both new work and cosmopolitanism rely of there being an ensemble of vibrant, dynamic cities interacting through movements of people, ideas and commodities. This is the complexity that is economic development.
I have two further premises as starting points. First, central place theory (CPT) cannot shoulder the burden of providing the spatial organization for economic development. A theory of urban centres servicing their hinterlands, CPT provides a neat and simple spatial structure that has been popular in spatial planning. With its identification of a central place hierarchy CPT has been extended into ‘national urban hierarchies' for national planning (e.g. Gould 1970; Bourne 1976) and, as world city hierarchy, it has provided the main spatial organizational framework for globalization from the 1980s (Friedmann 1986). But CPT does not begin to address the complexity of contemporary globalization; below I return it to its origins in explaining ‘local' urban relations (Christaller 1966).
Second, for understanding spatial organization in contemporary globalization I draw upon Castells' (1996) ideas on the construction of social spaces. He argues that this occurs in two basic forms: spaces of places and spaces of flows. Until recently, spaces of places dominated social space construction, most notably in the development of nation-states in industrial society. However, today this is being superseded by a new ‘network society' in which new spaces of flows are dominating old spaces of places. World city network formation is an overt expression of this societal change (Taylor 2004). More generally this move from seeing cities as hierarchies (CPT) to cities in networks has led to a new ‘central flow theory' (CFT) (Taylor 2007), which I briefly describe below.
These initial premises allow a rethinking of cities in economic development as follows. Urban places, and cities in particular, encompass economic powers that transcend their own locations. This projection of urban economic power is central to any economic development. It can take three basic forms.
All urban places exhibit these three processes – town-ness, city-ness, metropolis - simultaneously but to different degrees that change over time. The key point in any economic development planning is that benign CPT is not that relevant, encouragement of CFT's positive power projections is essential, and PDT processes must be monitored to prevent becoming ‘satellite' to somebody else's development. However, in spatial planning most emphasis has been on central place processes, on local spatial organization and hierarchy. This is a space of places bias that reflects the positioning of development planning in territorial policy agendas. This is a generic problem of spatial planning being contained by the jurisdictions of policy-makers, which has been exacerbated by globalization and the increasing importance of spaces of flows. This is the very difficult context through which Poland 's NDS has had to negotiate.
The Polish National Development Strategy 2007-2015
As noted previously, this official publication is a sophisticated social-scientific policy document to which I cannot do full justice in this short paper. However, the spatial elements of the arguments are fascinating and provide much food for thought in the light of the previous discussion. I focus on two sections of the document: (i) the initial section that puts Poland into context in terms of both internal and external relations, and (ii) discussion of the key strategic priority that encompasses spatial planning.
Putting Poland and its Cities in Context
The first substantive chapter (“II: Conditions and premises of the country development”, pp. 9-24) begins by setting out the need for development: externally Poland is the second poorest of EU countries (a graphic shows it to be only ahead of Latvia, p. 9), and internally maps of voivodships show large differences in both GDP per capita (p. 10) and unemployment rate (p. 12). Thus is the ‘development' located in basic spatial competitive terms: differences in territorial units that require remedy. This is to be expected; but how is this spatial competition interpreted?
In a discussion of ‘Polish specificity', which deals with internal matters, spatial concerns are seen as both an asset and weakness. First, the ‘polycentric spatial development' of the country is seen as an asset. This is because the country is not dominated by one large city and there are ‘a number of other large metropolitan areas' to provide ‘development opportunities' (p. 15). Such a ‘non-primate' pattern of urban settlements is the CPT ideal. Second, however, when we come to the list of weaknesses we find ‘regional diversification' which is about economic inequalities: some voivoidships are twice as poor as others. This is seen as an effect of ‘fast development' in ‘urban conurbations' (p. 17) in viovoidships with the ‘best development perspectives' (p. 18). This presumably translates as CFT processes. These alternative positions on the role of cities in development are subsequently resolved, or rather interpreted, as one of the ‘basic development dilemmas':
“Faster growth translates into greater development diversity [at] the scale of the country and within the regions, since it is powered by growth centres, which are mainly urban agglomerations and metropolises. Taking this into consideration we should decide to what extent our vision should concentrate first of all on the growth, that is on supporting the most robust regions and urban centres, and to what extent we should take into consideration rural areas and marginalised regions?” (p. 24)
This is an impeccable argument of a general dilemma in spatial planning but it remains mired in spaces of places thinking.
Other ‘conditions and premises' that are spaces of flows are not linked to this dilemma. For instance, ‘high unemployment' is seen as ‘the main problem' and is linked to low level of ‘innovativeness' (p. 17), which can both be seen as a failure of Poland's cities to generate sufficient expansion as part of city networks. The result has been the huge increase in out-migration on entering the EU. But, again, this ‘draining of human capital' (p. 20) should be interpreted as relatively stagnant Polish cities losing out to other more dynamic EU cities that are prospering from this fresh injection of young skilled workers. Polish workers helping develop far away cities is pure PDT.
The point that comes out of this critique of the contextual introduction is that there is not a coherent spatial theory through which the economic development of the country can be viewed. There are numerous sensible and important observations but listings do not provide a coherent whole through which to devise strategy. Perhaps this will be found in the regional development strategic priority.
Priority 6: Regional Development and Territorial Cohesion
It is perhaps instructive that cities (or metropolitan areas) do not warrant a mention in the official vision of what Poland wants to be by 2015 (“III: Vision of Poland until 2015”, pp. 25-8). The only spatial references are to ‘a country being organized spatially' (p. 27) and ‘territorial cohesion' (p. 28). Clearly, and perhaps ominously, there is no vision of a successful Poland as a territorial constellation of vibrant and dynamic cities strongly integrated into a world city network.
The vision is converted into ‘the main goal of the strategy' of raising the quality of Polish lives (p. 29) that is to be realised by policy promoting ‘fast, constant economic growth' (p. 29). The latter is described in terms of ‘development of human capital, increasing innovativeness in the sphere of research and development' (p. 29) all features that require vibrant cities for their generation but again cities are conspicuous by their absence in this discussion. However, to plot the path towards this main goal, six priorities are identified as ‘the most important directions and main actions' (p. 30). These are listed in Table 1.
Two points immediately come to mind on considering Table 1. First, the spatial priority is to be found at the bottom of the list; does this indicate a lack of importance? Possibly not because it actually gets most text: the chapter dedicated to this priory is the longest of any priority chapter. Second, key elements of what make spatial development crucial are separated out as separate priorities: competitiveness/innovativeness listed first, and employment quality listed third. These are quintessential city processes; does their separation from the spatial priority render the latter largely irrelevant to economic development? Probably not, since the chapters on the competition and education priorities do not mention cities at all; this provides an opening for the spatial priority to synthesis material from the other priorities. Let's see the degree to which this happens.
The regional development goals for Priority 6 are listed in Table 2. These do not look very promising with just one goal announcing that metropolitan areas should be developed, like rural areas. But this listing hides more than it reveals, it is followed by this most pertinent statement:
“The key task in the regional development is a fuller usage of the endogenous potential of the largest city centres and strengthening of relations between metropolises and urbanized areas and the rural areas and small towns surrounding them. The fundamental result should be diffusion of economic growth to adjacent areas and using the relative superiority of a large city – creation of new jobs, opportunities for economic cooperation, and participation in the social and cultural infrastructure.” (pp. 73-4)
This describes an ideal starting point for integrating spaces of flows into spatial planning to make it more dynamic. In the lists of the ‘basic directions of activities of the state' that follow, both competitiveness and education priorities feature (as well as other priorities) and this leads on to a synthesis of policies tailored to the specificities on individual voivoidships.
These policy vignettes for each of the 16 voivoidships are quite short (typically about 20 lines) but they all include a statement on the need for metropolitan development – see Table 3. In the Annex metropolitan areas are defined for Poland as a large city (or cities) that combined with its surrounding areas has a population of 500,000 people or more (p. 134). There are nine and they are emboldened in Table 3. Since no voivoidship has more than one metropolitan area (the polycentric structure referred to earlier), it follows that seven of them have no metropolitan area. The table indicates a policy of rectifying this, converting Polish economic space into an ultra-polycentric territory: presumably this is the ‘territorial cohesion' that is being sought. It is important to note that despite the demographic definition of metropolitan area, their roles are to be dynamic as the statements on Warsaw and Trojmiasto clearly show (CFT). In other words, the term metropolitan is used to mean city-ness as described in the previous section of this paper. But the one-metropolitan- area-per-voivoidship approach makes the policy seem more like an enhancing town-ness process (CPT), especially with respect of the seven urban places beyond the current metropolitan areas.
The key issue not developed explicitly in these policy vignettes is the matter of PDT threats. In particular, out-migration, especially of graduates (p.57), is a space of flows that neutralises gains from improved education policies. Already the migration of health professions is a problem (p. 122), which means Polish cities are training doctors and nurses for richer non-Polish cities for free. This question of human capital is addressed only briefly in Priority 3 (see Table 1) where a ‘rational migration policy' is described in less than a page (p. 57). This is largely about restrictions on foreigners working in Poland and as such seems to be ‘jumping the gun'. Attracting foreigners produces cosmopolitan cities, which should be seen as positive (although not with contemporary high levels of unemployment). However, the positive element of migration is understood. As well as proposing policies for retaining skilled/professional labour (previously, low cost, high skilled labour had been seen as an attraction to foreign investment (p. 14) which entails PDT dangers), migrants should be encouraged to return: ‘conditions will be created giving a possibility of using the knowledge and skills acquired abroad in the business activity in Poland. This is classic CFT thinking involving collaboration across cities, a process of integrating Polish cities into the world city network.
Despite the lack of real integration of the spatial into the economic and social priorities of the main goal, NDS is a document that far transcends the problem of spatial planning identified at the beginning of this paper: spatial planning as space of places with resultant little relevance in economic globalization. In NDS spatial planning is more about process than pattern, which makes the lack of integration identified to be particularly disappointing. Nevertheless, while the development vision of NDS does not include cities, its realization most certainly is expected to rely heavily on cities; in fact it will be largely realized through cities.
What about Globalization?
Critiquing specific contents of a document does not necessarily produce a full critique because it does not easily identify arguments that are missing in the document. In NDS I think globalization is relatively neglected. ‘Globalization processes' are first mentioned briefly as a possible threat to development (p. 19) but are later seen as a means for the ‘transfer of technology and growth of innovativeness, raising the quality of human capital and creation of new jobs' (p. 27). This very positive position is important for the whole document but is not really developed at all. Later there are references to the need for ‘world level, top quality education' (p. 34), a ‘global information society' (p.35), international competitiveness' (p. 37), and ‘the growth of internationalization of Polish enterprises' (p. 37) but these are not brought together in a discussion of the Polish economy in globalization and how this impinges on the strategy. For instance, the final three chapters of NDS on realizing and financing the strategy do not feature globalization at all except as an ‘unexpected' disturbance (p. 91). Below I return to the more positive take on globalization using two recent GaWC research projects to show how they can inform the spatial planning in NDS.
Globalization and Territorial Cohesion: Rethinking Polycentricity
Global city regions are now widely seen as key economic entities in the global economy (Scott 2001). These large regions transcend the traditional boundaries of cities and can be interpreted as the latest manifestation of Jacobs' (1969) dynamic city-regions. But they differ from her spatial formulation by being explicitly multi-nodal in nature due to their sheer scale. In a recent study of eight such polycentric city-regions in North-West Europe (Hall and Pain 2006), two distinctive types were indicated. Some regions consisted of collections of separate but related cities; others appeared to be collections of nodal extensions of previously primate cities. Rhine-Ruhr and Randstad Holland are examples of the former; South East England and the Paris Basin are examples of the latter (Taylor et al 2006; 2008).
In further studies of polycentricity in England, London and its region was contrasted with the ‘Northern Way' as a polycentric region around Manchester extending from Liverpool to Leeds (Taylor et al 2007 a and b). The key finding was that in England two distinctive polycentric city processes were unfolding. In the London city-region there was a polycentric mega-city regional process: this is Type 1 polycentricity in which growth from London was diffusing out to surrounding towns and cities – a sort of ‘super-Jacobs' regional process. In the Manchester city-region there was a polycentric multi-city regional process: this is Type 2 polycentricity in which several major cities were connected and growing but with little or no diffusion to other intervening towns and cities. Clearly these two processes are having very different regional impacts and imply distinctive spatial planning policies: in the former smaller cities and towns are part of the polycentric growth process, in the latter they tend to be by-passed (Taylor el al 2007b).
In NDS polycentricity is identified as a state-scale spatial property with positive implications for national territorial cohesion. However at this large scale type 2 processes are very likely; for instance, the three eastern voivoidships are seen as in danger of being by-passed by metropolitan processes (p. 77). However, in the NDS Annex there is reference to the first stages of Warsaw developing faster than other metropolitan areas (p. 133). While this would be counter to the territorial cohesion ideal, it might be signally a move to type 1 city polycentricity whereby surrounding towns and cities share in the growth. And since Warsaw is in the east of Poland, this is the process that if it developed to approach London or Paris scales, it could economically stimulate the three eastern border voivoidships in the longer term.
Globalization and Ex-COMECON Cities in Central and Eastern Europe: Measuring Network Connectivities
In one of the brief references to globalization in NDS it is argued that ‘we need an objective evaluation of the place and role of Poland in the European Union's economy and in the world economy' (p. 19). But in fact there is very little comparative study in the strategy document or Annex. A Eurostat diagram (p. 9 and 107) previously referred to that shows Poland ranking second from bottom is the only country comparison. There are no city comparisons. However the latter are available from the world city network projects at GaWC. Using the interlocking network model global network connectivity measures have been computed for 315 cities in 2000 and 2004 (Taylor et al 2002; Taylor and Aranya 2007). These measures indicate how well a city is integrated into the world city network as defined by advanced producer service firms (100 in 2000, 80 in 2004). More generally, they can be interpreted as indicators of the economic vibrancy of a city since they represent investments by global service firms in setting up office in a city on the expectation of a dynamic growing market for the service being provided.
There are 17 ex-COMECON cities from Eastern and Central Europe among the 315 being measured and they are listed in Table 4. These cities are interesting because they entered the 1990s effectively from point zero as far as economic globalization goes. However, with the privatization of state assets and coming of a market economy, cities in ex-COMECON states soon attracted global service firms in law, banking/finance and management consultancy in particular. Therefore, this 1990s economic transition was operationalized through services in cities that became integrated into the world city network. The degrees to which this happened for the 17 ex-COMICON cities are shown in Table 1. The results are quite impressive. Although the region has not produced a single major world city, the world city network formation process did produce four important world cities by the beginning of the twenty first century. Starting with Prague, which actually reached the top 30 cities in terms of economic integration, and with Moscow, Warsaw and Budapest, there was a quartet of ex-COMECON cities in the top 50. Berlin comes next: in this case coming to globalization late appears to have had an effect; although regaining the political capital role in Germany, in economic terms there were four western German cities (Frankfurt, Munich, Hamburg and Dusseldorf) already better integrated than Berlin. Note, however, that capital cities continue to dominate Table 4 except for the smallest countries: even St Petersburg, the highest ranking non-capital city, is not much more integrated that its three Baltic neighbours that are capitals of their new small states (Riga, Tallinn, Vilnius). Clearly in this 1990s globalization of the region service firms are generally targeting one city per country (the capital) with little other investment.
The network integration of these same cities are shown four years later in Table 5. The same four cities are at the top of the list but somewhat shuffled: Warsaw is the most integrated of these ex-COMECON cities and the erstwhile leader, Prague, drops to fourth. Similar shuffling occurs lower in the table and there appears to be no movement of service investment beyond capitals. These shifts can be assessed directly by computing relative changes in connectivities (Table 6). Bratislava, the most recent of the capital cities, is ranked first for change as it realizes advantages of capital status late. This contrasts with Prague, an early globalization beneficiary but now relatively declining. Krakow is second most impressive riser in integration but this was from a very low base but note that Warsaw is in the top one sixth worldwide. Overall, there are more and higher positive than negative changes in Table 6, which indicates that the region as a whole continues its integration into the world city network relatively more than cities in other world regions. Poland, as represented by Warsaw and Krakow, reflects this continuing globalization.
There are two reasons why comparative may be useful. First, comparisons provide markers; they show whether an economy is doing well relative to other economies. Second, there is the identification of processes that transcend the economy in question. In this case there is a class of countries that have experienced similar entrees into contemporary globalization. This means that there will be some processes that are common to all ex-COMECON central and eastern European cities and countries. To be sure there is a Polish specificity but this nestles in an ex-COMECON specificity that, we may surmise, will be gradually declining in importance. Certainly the class of ex-COMECON within the EU is a territorial category for future comparisons. In all likelihood Budapest, Prague and Warsaw (and possibly Bratislava) will rise or fall together in a restructuring EU by 2015 and therefore policies of cooperation will probably be more efficacious than competition.
I have endeavoured to treat NDS with the respect it deserves. The social science input is impressive and I have focused upon just one part of it. But it must also be recognised that for all the hard work of social scientists working on the document it is not an academic product. It is ‘political' in both a small and large sense. There cannot be 44 authors of a coherent argument; there will have been jockeying for positioning ideas among the participants. As I indicated above, spatial planning is not well integrated into important parts of the document but overall it seems to been allocated reasonable space. And, of course, as a state policy document its final version had to be accepted by the Council of Ministers which must have meant prior civil servant input. However, apart from the odd addition of the word ‘homeland' the document remains free from nationalist rhetoric. This has clearly been a serious exercise in advanced policy thinking.
My brief has been to explore the limitations of NDS however serious, creative and competent its production. By its ‘national' definition it is territorialist in practice and this impinges on the space constructions that are envisaged. Much of the thinking is bounded within (voivoidships) and bounded without (national boundary). There is also a propensity to think about spatial planning with a bias towards spaces of places over spaces of flows. The latter is reflected in a curious neglect of cities while simultaneously recognising their key role in meeting goals. However, the latter recognition does not extend to understanding current problems as resulting from past anti-city policies. (Communist state planning can be interpreted as favouring town-ness over city-ness in its urban restrictions.) Poland still needs a modern vision of itself as a land of vibrant, dynamic, creative cities. And so back to Jacobs and Florida: a simple measure of success in 2015 will be how cosmopolitan Polish cities are.
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Table 1 Priorities of the National Development Strategy
Source: Ministry of Regional Development (2006), p. 30
Table 2 Regional development goals in Priority 6
Source: Ministry of Regional Development (2006), p. 73
Table 3 Metropolitan statements in the Regional Development and Territorial Cohesion Priority
All quotes are from Priority 6 in Ministry of Regional Development (2006), pp 78-83
Table 4 Global integration of ex-COMECON Eastern and Central European Cities in 2000
Source: computed by author
Table 5 Global integration of ex-COMECON Eastern and Central European Cities in 2004
Source: computed by author
Table 6 Changes in global integration of ex-COMECON Eastern and Central European Cities in 2000-2004
Source: computed by author
Edited and posted on the web on 10th January 2008