The complexity of city competitiveness and reinvention means urban leaders should better understand, integrate and orchestrate the many forms of capital in their city. Not only financial capital, but also:
• human capital - the skills, talents and special knowledge of the people;
• social capital - the complex web of relationships between organizations, communities and interest groups which make up civil society;
• cultural capital - the sense of belonging in and understanding of the unique identity of a place expressed in tangible and intangible form, such as heritage, memories, creative activities, dreams and aspirations; also Bourdieu's sense of the cultural capital of family background, social class and acquired education that give a person greater confidence and higher status;
• intellectual capital - the ideas and innovative potential of a community;
• creativity capital - the capacity to stand back, to connect the seemingly disconnected, to relax into ambiguity, to be original and inventive;
• leadership capital - the motivation, will, energy and capacity to take responsibility and lead; and
• environmental capital - the built and natural landscape and ecological diversity of an area.23
These forms of capital are urban assets and a lack of them urban deficits. And like all assets they need managing. Thinking of these forms of capital as the urban currencies should reveal how all dimensions of city-making are inextricably interwoven. There is a need to realign the weighting given to different activities. The social domain, for example, is then not just seen as a problem-solving arena, dealing with the consequences of unresolved dilemmas elsewhere, an add-on we have to deal with later. Instead, creating social capital assets is a self-conscious strategic activity that builds this capital from the ground upwards, as the more we develop and, importantly, use it, the more it grows. Thus in education, an arena in which social capital is developed, courses like history or even geography then become both aids and exemplars to develop it. The same prism should affect police training and that of taxi drivers, how shopkeepers are encouraged to behave, and so on. We know there is a link between high levels of social capital and low levels of crime. But which cities have strategic social capital development programmes, as opposed to a series of usually disconnected social projects? If social capital includes networking capacity, which cities are getting their citizens to network across barriers? In deprived communities, the under-networked network with the equally under-networked so creating an enclosing, isolating, downward spiral of communication and possibilities.
Again, though, as with networking, we must be aware of double-edged qualities. There can be too much social capital, when it crowds people in, when tradition is too strong, when it curtails being open.
What cities have an intellectual capital development programme as distinct from an education programme? We know attracting and having access to knowledge and imagination is the key to urban success. Important as formal education is, much of this talent will be nurtured in settings that have nothing to do with education. Thus our perspective on how talent is generated should go well beyond educational institutions. Furthermore, what are the language capacities of your citizens? How many speak a second or third language and use these in trade and business?
Equally, what cities self-consciously try to develop their cultural capital, as distinct from building cultural facilities? Culture determines how we shape, create and make our societies. So the scope, possibilities, style and tenor of social and economic development is largely culturally determined. If our city culture is more closed-minded, strongly hierarchical and focuses on tradition, it can make adjusting to major transformation more difficult. It might limit communicating across different groups. It might hold back international trade or tourism because obstacles will be created to the free flow of exchange and ideas. It might deter creating mixed partnerships, which are now recognized as a major way forward for communities to solve problems. It might stifle developing a vibrant, empowered small business sector. By contrast, if our traditions value tolerance and openness, those adjustments to the new world may be easier. Places that share ideas and have the capacity to absorb bring differences together more effectively.
By giving full weight to the various forms of capital, a new urban assessment and measurement tool emerges that combines the economic with other factors city leaders are concerned about.
PricewaterhouseCoopers recently published their Cities of the Future report24 which offers a similar framework, focusing on:
• intellectual and social capital - which focuses on skills and capabilities;
• democratic capital - which suggests city administrations need to be accountable and transparent in their dialogue with citizens;
• culture and leisure capital - which proposes strong city-branding for visibility to compete for residents, business relocations, tourism and international events;
• environmental capital - which draws attention to urban consumption and the need to provide a clean, green and safe environment;
• technical capital - technology must be able to support the changing needs of citizens, from broadband to transport; and
• financial capital - how resources are garnered to pay for services.
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