Policy Update 017 Pre-event Interview No.1

City-Regions: Policy Issues and the Evolution of Citizenship

Allen J. SCOTT
Distinguished Professor of Public Policy and Geography, The School of Public Affairs, University of California, Los Angeles

Ahead of the RIETI Policy Symposium, "Rise and Fall of World Cities - Implications for Greater Tokyo, Japan and Asia," to be held on Friday, March 18, RIETI has been conducting interviews with some of the keynote speakers to learn about the relationship between the global and the local in the world economy, the changing social structures of cities, and the political implications of these developments.

We begin with a brief biography of Dr. Allen J. Scott. Dr. Scott is Distinguished Professor of Public Policy and Geography at the School of Public Affairs, University of California, Los Angeles. An expert in urbanization, industrialization, and regional development, Dr. Scott has been a visiting scholar at the University of Paris, Zhongshan University in China, the University of Hong Kong and the University of Sao Paulo. His major publications include Technopolis: High-Technology Industry and Regional Development in Southern California, University of California Press, 1993 and Global City-Regions: Trends, Theory, Policy (Ed.), Oxford University Press, 2001. His most recent book, On Hollywood: The Place, the Industry, has just been published by Princeton University Press.

RIETI: Industry clusters are one of the important elements of urban agglomeration. What are the basic elements of a successful industry cluster? What distinguishes successful clusters such as Silicon Valley or Hollywood from less successful attempts to create such clusters?

There is no cut and dried formula for success. That said, a number of necessary conditions need to be met before any kind of long-run success can be accomplished. One set of conditions involves internal organizational issues: the presence of a network of specialized but complementary producers, a dense local labor market with a full complement of agglomeration-specific skills, and active processes of learning based on the constant circulation of useful information. The other set involves issues external to the cluster: above all, the ability to commercialize and distribute final products in wider markets. But effective activation of these rather mechanical conditions is difficult to achieve. It seems to depend on two main sets of circumstances. First, appropriate institutions of collective order need to be in place so as to ensure that external economies of scale and scope are fully potentiated. Second, local cultural and norms and habits need to be consistent with high levels of collaborative interaction and constant creativity. Policymakers can do much to help these processes along, but we need considerably more research before we can approach these problems with any degree of confidence.

RIETI: You have been engaged in formulating economic development strategies for Southern California. What are the current issues for this region? Are there any issues you are dealing with that are pertinent to Greater Tokyo?

The Los Angeles economy has evolved over the last 20 years from a predominant focus on aerospace to a predominant focus on creative industries such as film, television program production, electronic games, architecture, fashion, jewelry, and so on. Many of the most important issues for the region now revolve around (a) ensuring an adequate supply of skilled workers for these industries, (b) promoting useful inter-sectoral synergies (e.g., in the areas of marketing and design), and (c) coming to terms - one way or another - with an intensifying process of outsourcing of low wage jobs. My sense is that the Tokyo region is also becoming a major global center of creative industries. An important question, no doubt, is how can Tokyo ensure that its products remain culturally distinctive (in the interests of competitive advantage) while appealing to global consumers?

RIETI: In recent years, Japan has seen the growth of significant cultural exports including animation, video games and fashion. How important do you think this development is economically given Japan's traditional reliance on manufacturing? What, if anything, can policymakers in Japan do to foster the growth of the cultural products industry?

The growth of the creative industries in Japan is obviously a development of major importance. Global demand for the products of these industries is growing at a rapid pace, and their contribution to GDP is increasingly significant. Moreover, the most dynamic of these industries are located in the world's great city-regions like New York, Los Angeles, Paris, London, and Tokyo. I believe that Japan in general and Tokyo in particular can become really major players in this segment of the world economy. I have two general pieces of advice for policymakers. One is that you need to encourage culturally distinctive forms of production that nevertheless can be effectively decoded by people in other societies. In other words, capitalize on your competitive advantages in the matter of specific cultural idioms but try to ensure a degree of universality (without, however, copying Hollywood). The other, and as a corollary, is that you need to invest actively in the machinery of global commercialization and distribution. Creative industries outside of North America hitherto have tended to fail signally in this latter respect.

RIETI: You refer to the need to enhance political participation by residents of cities, including foreign nationals. How might municipal or regional authorities enhance political inclusion of groups traditionally left out of decision-making?

Major city-regions around the world are increasingly characterized by the presence of large cohorts of immigrants, many of whom are caught up in low-wage, low-skill occupations. Many of these immigrants are also marginalized in social and political terms, which is not only unacceptable in its own right but is also dysfunctional in terms of the wider urban community. What is implied, in part, by this remark is a conception of the city-region as a domain of citizenship distinct from other levels of political organization, and especially from the sovereign state. The notion of citizenship that I am seeking to convey here stands in contrast to the usual meaning that it carries as a birthright granted by the national state. Programmatically, we might think of it, in addition, as a civil attribute obtainable by residence in a particular place, and bearing with it substantive rights and obligations specific to that place. In this sense, it would now be possible to acquire citizenships many times over as individuals move - even across national boundaries - from one city-region to another over the course of their lives, thus voiding the disabling effects of outsider status on participation in local political affairs. One important consequence of any real reform in this direction would be the enfranchisement of the large marginalized immigrant populations that exist in many global city-regions, thus opening the way for their more formal incorporation into the community, and hence for a more democratic organization of local life.

Interview conducted by Takako Kimura, online editor, on March 8, 2005.

March 8, 2005

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