More on steering, rowing, waving etc

Along with my fellow authors Nick Buck, Ian Gordon, Peter Hall and Michael Harloe, I attempted to use these four categories as ways of understanding the modernisation of London governance in the last two decades of the twentieth century  in our book Working Capital ( That is, along with the shift in paradigm from ‘rowing’ to ‘steering’ – we largely accepted the Osborne and Gaebler analysis – there are also the possibilities of waving – “multiplying ‘strategies’ and ‘visions’ in the absence of resources and action; or ‘drowning’ – sinking beneath the weight of local problems and ineffectiveness in responding to them.

Now that I am on the other side of the researcher/researchee divide, I shall leave it to others to decide whether this framework is still relevant, and if not, how it should be modified. In terms of the economic analysis in the book, I think we got it roughly right in terms of our emphasis on both  globalisation, but also the national and regional dimension;  internationalisation  of the labour market as much as financial and business services; and continuing concerns about the persistence of geographical and social inequalities. But in retrospect we under-estimated the dynamism and growth in the London economy, and we would not have foreseen that that the worst recession since the War, with its origins in the financial sector, would impact the London economy less rather than more the rest of the UK. The reasons for that are complex, but relate surely to the diversity and scale of the London economy, as well as the flexible and internationally-linked labour market.


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