A quiet influence shaping lines of inquiry: Rethinking ‘cities in pursuit of economic growth’

Document Type



In 1990, Political Geography Quarterly published “Cities in pursuit of economic growth: the local state as entrepreneur” by Helga Leitner. At the time in urban geography and related urban fields, as noted by authors in a retrospective led by Kevin Ward (2020), a number of scholars were investigating the enmeshment of private and public actors in municipal decision-making, and seeing an increased role by city governments in facilitating land development for private investors (Harvey, 1989; Leitner, 1990; Squires, 1989). Municipalities were increasingly prioritizing downtown development rather than broader urban social services (Gottdiener, 1987; Leitner & Garner, 1993; Squires, 1989; Stone, 1987). Leitner's (1990) article, like many just before and after 1990, sought to examine how cities were facilitating investments in real estate development in their downtown cores (Cox & Mair, 1988; Squires, 1989; Levine, 1989; Beauregard, 1991).

Arguably among the most impactful works (certainly in terms of citations) from that time on the topic are Stone (1989), Logan and Molotch (1987), and Harvey (1989). Logan and Molotch (1987), as well as Stone (1989), were particularly interested in understanding and exposing the relationships between urban officials, businesses, and other local institutions such as universities.

Publication Title

Political Geography

Publication Date