Handbook of Regions and Competitiveness
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Handbook of Regions and Competitiveness

Contemporary Theories and Perspectives on Economic Development

Edited by Robert Huggins and Piers Thompson

The aim of this Handbook is to take stock of regional competitiveness and complementary concepts as a means of presenting a state-of-the-art discussion of the contemporary theories, perspectives and empirical explanations that help make sense of the determinants of uneven development across regions. Drawing on an international field of leading scholars, the book is assembled and organized so that readers can first learn about the theoretical underpinnings of regional competitiveness and development theory, before moving on to deeper discussions of key factors and principal elements, the emergence of allied concepts, empirical applications, and the policy context.
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Chapter 21: Measuring urban competitiveness in Europe

Lucía Sáez and Iñaki Periáñez


Globalization has been made possible by the development of worldwide trade, the elimination of trade barriers, and by new information and communication technologies (ICTs). With integration progressing, political borders between countries have become less important, and the roles of cities and the competition between them become more significant. Cities face the challenge of redesigning themselves as systems that can adapt quickly and effectively to the challenges and opportunities entailed by a dynamic global environment. They must compete with one another to attract resources and investment that can create wealth and employment and assure regeneration. Engagement in benchmarking can help city managers identify competitors, establish competition profiles and determine where their competitive advantage may lie on the one hand, and to develop distinctive positioning strategies on the other. In Europe, the expansion of the European Union (EU) has resulted in a union of territories with widely varying levels of economic development, but no current benchmarking studies refer exclusively to cities in Europe. Therefore, the main contribution of this chapter is a benchmarking of European cities in terms of how competitive they are when it comes to attracting businesses and investment. Urban competitiveness is a complex, multidimensional issue, so a scale of measurement has been drawn up based on a synthetic index, the Urban Competitiveness Index (UCI). This index is made up of sub-indicators representing the basic, efficiency and innovation dimensions. The sample comprises 159 cities from 26 EU countries, classed as larger urban zones (LUZs), with populations of at least 100 000.

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