The Competitiveness Challenge for Secondary Capitals
Preface and acknowledgements
This book is about so-called Secondary Capital Cities, defined as capitals that are not the primary economic city of their nation states. There is a need to study such cities comparatively because no counterpart exists in their national urban systems. Comparative research brings economic, political, and social differences into the spotlight. This book clearly demonstrates that the economic and political institutions, which form the political economy of a locality, matter in explaining policy variation. Whereas local policy-makers share the motivation to be competitive in interurban competition, the actual policies that they formulate are dependent on place-based institutional constraints and opportunities. Local tax settings are especially important because, in the end, cities want to earn money. This project, and the resulting book, has taught me about the importance of such institutional differences when comparatively analysing cities.
The research for this book was triggered in 2008 when the Swiss federal government published the first draft of its Swiss Federal Spatial Concept. Bern was not designated as a Swiss metropolitan region and this caused alarm among local and regional policy-makers, who began lobbying for a better status. Policy-makers searched for best practices and lessons to learn. Among others, they also sought advice from the University of Bern. In 2013, Prof. Dr. Heike Mayer and Prof. Dr. Fritz Sager launched an interdisciplinary and multi-year research project, which was financially supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (Grant Number 143784). This book is part of that research project.
This book studies Bern, Ottawa, The Hague, and Washington, DC. I was able to live and work in each of these capital cities for several months. This embeddedness provided an in-depth, first-hand understanding of the political and economic challenges of these four Secondary Capital Cities. I had the privilege to be a guest researcher at Leiden University, Campus The Hague from September to November 2014, at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, National Capital Region from December 2014 to February 2015, and at Ottawa University, Center on Governance from March to May 2015. This book relies heavily on these field studies and the interviews conducted during these periods. I want to thank my colleagues at these institutions, who helped me conduct my research, shared their networks, and provided me with feedback on preliminary findings. I am especially indebted to Prof. Dr. Caroline Andrew, Dr. Patrick Overeem, and Prof. Dr. Anne Khademian, who served as local coordinators. I am thankful to all of my interview partners, who shared their valuable time and insights with me.
I also want to thank Prof. Dr. Fritz Sager for his support, guidance, and mentoring during all these years of academic development. He establishes a stimulating intellectual environment in which individual initiatives, commitment, and creativity are fostered and esteemed. Furthermore, I am grateful to Prof. Dr. Heike Mayer for her productive collaboration and her helpful advice. Prof. Dr. Daniel Kübler also provided me with supportive feedback on an earlier draft of this book.
Special thanks go to Martin Warland, who contributed to making the field studies a great experience, kept me entertained, and helped me navigate through the economic geography literature. I also want to mention my colleagues Caroline, Céline, Iris, Johanna, Lyn, Markus, Stefan, and Susanne, who all make the KPM Center on Public Management an exciting place to do research and hang out. I am grateful to Janine Gehrig Lux and Ramin Wasel, who both edited and proofread this book. I would also like to thank my parents who have supported me during these years of personal and academic development. Their hard work, dedication, and empathy has always been a source of inspiration. This book would not exist without the constant support and encouragement of Roma Christen.
Bern, December 31, 2017