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Edited by Peter K. Kresl
Edited by John R. Bryson, Lauren Andres and Rachel Mulhall
Edited by John R. Bryson, Lauren Andres and Rachel Mulhall
Michael Hoyler, Christof Parnreiter and Allan Watson
Beginning from a concern with how relational perspectives being developed within economic geography might contribute in important ways to relational understandings of global cities and the world city network, in this introductory chapter we outline a renewed critical agenda for global cities research that attends to issues of agency and practice in the making of global cities. We see the future development of this agenda as having four crucial elements: first, a need to incorporate perspectives on agency and practice from relational economic geography into global cities research; second, a need to specify the practices underlying global city making; third, a need to recognize the diversity of actors involved in global city making; and, finally, a need to account for the role of actors and practices not only in the making but also in the un-making of global cities.
Michiel van Meeteren and David Bassens
This chapter examines the effects of advanced producer services on ABN AMRO’s corporate strategy leading up to the bank’s failure in 2007. Our historical reconstruction reveals how consultancy-inspired narratives about globalization, consolidation and shareholder value structured the bank’s geographies of risk and opportunity. Located in Amsterdam, a second-tier global city, ABN AMRO acted upon interpretations of a worldwide merger and acquisition craze that was framed as ‘the global endgame’. This narrative legitimized shareholder-value-inspired reorganizations and valuation metrics that contributed to the bank’s eventual demise. The chapter shows how multinational corporations, facing shareholder pressure, utilize strategic management consultancy narratives to legitimize their decisions to stakeholders. Yet, the bank’s eventual failure also illustrates the limits to the agency of global city makers such as bankers and consultants as this agency is constrained by credibility in financial markets and wider positionality in a system of financial centres.
This chapter is about understanding the role that commodity traders play in the world city network. Commodity trade is crucial in shaping economic globalization, both in the form of physical exchange of goods and in the form of financial transactions. Some older geographical thoughts on the role of traders and trade in shaping urban fortunes, most notably the work of James Vance (1970), are presented. These insights are confronted with a detailed overview of the contemporary practices of commodity traders in coordinating global supply chains and transactions, effectively linking various markets and places across time and space. The main hypothesis we induce is that in order for commodity traders to act as global agents they prefer the concentrated agglomeration benefits offered by (world) cities.
As the chapters in this book clearly demonstrate, global cities do not come into the world economy pre-formed. Rather a considerable amount of work is undertaken by a range of actors, from individual economic agents, through advanced producer services (APS) firms to institutional actors in order to (re)produce the power of global cities within the contemporary world economy. Indeed, the sheer diversity of such actors and their concomitant spheres of influence is extremely well teased out in the chapters within this collection. This ranges from the individual financiers working in Tokyo’s financial district in Yamamura’s (2018) chapter to Hesse’s (2018) exposition of the shipping companies shaping Hamburg’s port development. Indeed, one of the many strengths of the chapters in this book is their breadth in terms of substantive area of economic activity (from finance, through management consultancy to real estate and infrastructure) to geographical location. In this respect, a much needed diversity of research sites beyond Western Europe is provided through work on elites in both Tokyo and Mumbai. This diversity of research approach is continued through the choice of methods that range from comparative quantitative work on London and New York to in-depth qualitative research with key informants whose daily working lives are vital in shaping the economic fabric of global cities. However, for me, the most significant intervention made by the work contained in this book lies in its focus on agency and agents within global cities. In this respect, the diverse forms of analysis, methodological choices and geographical location all share a commitment to demonstrating how it is the interplay between actors and the institutional and regulatory landscapes within which they operate that are critical in shaping the trajectory of global city development. Indeed, a range of literatures are used to shed light on this intersection, from global production networks in the case of Jacobs (2018), to literature on financialization and the role of APS firms in the case of van Meeteren and Bassens (2018). In so doing, the chapters begin to signal how we must attend to questions of power and politics in the making of global cities and it is this area that I focus on in this short commentary. This area is important, because whilst practice and relational orientated approaches have done much to reveal the range of activities that go on in making global cities, particularly at the micro level, there remains a need to use this approach to address meso- and macro-level questions about the operation of global cities within the wider economy (Hall, 2011).
Maritime industries are very important enablers of global trade: ports have already been coined ‘frontline soldiers of globalisation’ (Ducruet and Lee, 2006), and global cities are often port cities. Likewise, port institutions can be viewed as ideal global city makers, in the way they are targeting global flows for serving local interests. In this context, this chapter explores the city and the port of Hamburg, Germany. As a paradigmatic case of local–global governance, the Albert Ballin Konsortium is discussed, which was founded in 2008 in order to ensure local stakes in the Hapag-Lloyd shipping line and to avoid its takeover by a global competitor. The chapter discusses the conflict between the increasing de-coupling of maritime services from the traditional mainport and local political strategies. The research reveals the not so common case of a somehow reluctant global (port) city, due to the city makers’ strong concern for local interests.
In the commercial real estate markets of New York and London, transaction costs are high due to the private nature of the markets, the heterogeneity of real assets, and the time it takes to acquire and dispose of property. Broker intermediaries provide knowledge of the asset, the market and the counterparty to the transaction and by doing so can increase trust between parties and improve market efficiency. However, the unique practice of intermediation observed in London wherein both seller and buyer typically retain broker representation can create significantly higher transaction costs compared to New York. Moreover, when two broker intermediaries ‘work a deal’, a ‘tri-dyad’ network structure forms in which those who work between become privy to all aspects of the investment, which creates a significant informational advantage for the intermediaries. The system of double brokerage creates a ‘tertius gaudens’ effect.