The Urban Turn : And the Location of economic Activities

Abstract: Competitiveness of city regions has gained a more and more central position in regional development and regional planning within the last decades. A reason for this is that globalisation has caused pressure on industrial structures forcing firms to increase their competitiveness by more actively promoting innovation and knowledge creation. Access to knowledge has therefore become vital for most types of productions in the Western economies. As creation of and access to knowledge have become increasingly important in order to stay competitive, a growing focus has been put on the geography of highly skilled labour. A growing string of this literature argues that large cities shall be understood as locomotives of regional development and growth because they have an attractive effect on highly skilled labour. This line of thinking is called the urban turn in economic geography. This study examines the urban turn by studying the dynamics of location of economic activities in Nordic countries. The thesis consists of 5 papers and a research report and offers both quantitative and qualitative analyses of the dynamics of location of economic activities in the knowledge economy. It approaches regional development both from an interregional perspective and an intraregional perspective. It provides a critical and thorough examination of the technology, talent and tolerance approach to regional development put forward by Richard Florida in his book The Rise of the Creative Class by examining the adequateness of the approach in a Swedish and Nordic context, and next it retheorises the approach based on empirical findings. Further, by studying intraregional dynamics in the greater metropolitan area of Copenhagen, the thesis addresses the geographical heterogeneity of the city region on the one side and the importance of social relations for location of economic activities on the other. Thereby the presented research calls for an intraregional perspective in mainstream regional development.