The Hard and Soft side of European Knowledge Regions

The Hard and Soft side of
European Knowledge Regions
Klankbordgroep meeting HELP UVA-VU
2 oktober 2013
Dr. Bart Sleutjes
Universiteit van Amsterdam (UvA)
First work package: meta analysis
 Literature review:
Rise of the creative knowledge city
Typologies of knowledge cities
Location theory
Previous research on residential preferences of
(European) knowledge workers
 Qualitative study  22 interviews with 31
experts in four city regions:
 Strengths and weaknesses of regions
 Residential patterns of creative and technical workers
The rise of the ‘knowledge city’
 Since 1990s: transformation to ‘new economy’: shift from
physical capital to human capital as main economic assets
‘Urban turn’ in spatial policy, stimulated by EU Lisbon Agenda
Different development paths of European cities, based on
(variation of) economic structure, knowledge institutions and
quality of life  Stars, nicheplayers, knowledge pearls,
intellectuals, metropoles in transition
Cities with strong creative sectors profit most from globalisation
(Scott, 2006)
Growing importance of ‘soft’ location factors: quality of life and
Location theory: 3 strands
 Classic location theory: capital, skilled labour
force, infrastructure, institutional context
 Social capital and personal networks: family,
friends and professional ties determine location
behaviour of people and companies
 ‘People-based perspective’: skills steer economic
growth  attracted by good people’s climate
People-based perspective to
economic growth
 Creative Class Theory (Florida, 2002): diversity and
tolerance attract workers
 Human capital and (climatic) amenities are main drivers of
urban growth (Glaeser et al., 2001)
 Amenities are principal drivers of growth (Clark et al.
 Critics: US-centered, suggest uniform ‘creative class’,
underestimation of employment and personal trajectories,
overestimation of soft conditions
Residential preferences of European
knowledge workers
General: location decisions in Europe steered by employment opportunities
and personal relations
Soft conditions play –if at all— a secondary role, and not more for
knowledge workers than for others (e.g. Martin-Brelot et al., 2010, Hansen
& Niedomysl, 2009)
Differences in preferences determined by age, life phase and lifestyle (e.g.
Hansen & Niedomysl, 2009; Frenkel et al., 2013; Andersen et al., 2010):
 age <35 and ‘bohemians’ more urban
 careerists and families more suburban
Observed, but disputed, differences between occupational groups:
 cultural industries highly urban (Markusen, 2006; Smit, 2012)
 ICT more mixed preferences, also suburban (Van Oort et al., 2003)
The attractiveness of Amsterdam,
Eindhoven, Copenhagen and Helsinki
Amsterdam: ‘I Amsterdam’
 + accessibility: Schiphol as hub
 + very diverse economy  attractive to large range of talents…
 - …but perhaps too diverse: no excellent sectors  difficult to
market region and attract specific groups
- complaints about ‘dulling’ of inner city due to restrictive
+ high scores on quality of life: authentic inner city; diverse set of
amenities, large cultural offer
+ tolerant image; diverse, international population
+ increasing supply of highly urban residential milieus for higher
income groups and families (e.g. waterfront developments)
-- Problematic housing market: expensive and lack of middle-price
segment, difficult to enter (especially for ‘outsiders’)  exclude
knowledge workers with lower incomes (creatives) in central parts
Eindhoven: the Dutch ‘Brainport’
 + Strong but specialized economy: large high-tech firms
and ecosystems (e.g., Philips, ASML)
+ Recent growth in creative clusters (design)
+ Strong p.p.p.’s in Triple Helix (Brainport)
- Small scale: lack of critical mass, shortage of labour 
dependence on international workers
+ For city of 200,000 good cultural offer  events
+ Tradition with in-migration  tolerant attitude
+ Large supply of family dwellings in green area…
- …but lack of affordable apartments in urban setting
- Lack of urban atmosphere  ‘large village’
Copenhagen: ‘The Human Capital’
 + Strong cluster policy: Medicon Valley, lifetech
 + Accessibility: low level of congestion, excellent
public transport, good airport
- High intraregional competition
- Uniform urban policies threaten diversity
- Restrictive immigration policies  conflict with
needs of local business
+ Safe city: low (but rising) levels of crime, social equity
+ Good cultural offer
- High costs of housing and living
- Closed society, no international ‘vibe’
Helsinki: beyond the ‘Finnish miracle’
 + Strong profile in IT and design, rise of gaming sector 
decreasing dependency on Nokia
+ Partnerships municipalities/universities  stimulating
entrepreneurship to compensate job losses Nokia
+ Strategic location (Russia, Baltic region)
- Still rather homogeneous economic profile
+ Safe city, high equality
+ Good cultural offer, recently flexible policies regarding events
- Cold climate (but ‘Nordic oddity’ as unique strength?)
- Closed society, not very international
- High housing prices and costs of living
Where do knowledge workers live?
 No clear concentration patterns of highly-educated workers
per se in all 4 city regions  depends on income, age and
 Exception: creative workers / cultural industries  in city
centre and surrounding neighbourhoods, and transformed
industrial heritage sites:
Amsterdam: inner city, 19th century ring, Minervahaven, Noord, Weesperzijde
Eindhoven: inner city, Strijp-S, Strijp-R, NRE-site
 Explanation: difference between ‘symbolic’ and ‘analytic’
knowledge bases:
Creative workers need ‘buzz’  meet others to get ideas and projects
Analytic workers do not need to mingle with colleagues in spare time
 The knowledge worker does not exist:
 Differences between ‘creatives’ and ‘technicians’
 Differences regarding demographic features (age, household
composition) and lifestyle
 Hard factors (work) and personal trajectories outweigh
soft factors in choice for region
 Demographic aspects, knowledge base and lifestyle
determine location within region
 But soft factors are necessary as secondary conditions
 On soft side, housing is most important, and problematic
in all four cities
Policy recommendations
 Be careful with adopting ‘Florida-paradigm’:
 At regional level jobs are more important than urban milieus
 integral policies more likely to be successful
 Not all knowledge workers prefer diverse urban milieus
 Paradox: uniform urban policies might make city even less
attractive and/or accessible for people with most urban
 Housing: more dwellings needed in middle-segment, more
short-stay facilities for expats
 National level: restrictive immigration policies may hamper
regional labour demand
Thank you for your attention.
Contact: [email protected]

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