The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


New Book Captures the Essence of Managing City Economies

6 July 2015

Le-Yin Zhang - Managing the City Economy

We are happy to announce the recent release of a new book: Managing the City Economy by Dr Le-Yin Zhang, Senior Lecturer and Course Director of the MSc Urban Economic Development at the DPU.

The book is centred around several key ideas. It sees the purpose of managing the city economy as being the promotion of an authentic form of development, which includes ‘the good life, the just society, and the sound relation to nature’ as expressed by Denis Goulet. While to some these may appear incompatible, the book suggests that in the long run there are no real contradictions between the pursuits of these goals. Contradictions therefore arise only from myopic approaches.

It argues that cities have to be seen as much more than agglomerations of people, artefacts, activities and relations, and instead as nodes of networks across geographies as well. The successes of city economies in this globalised world is therefore closely tied to the role of city managers and their commitment, imagination and the willingness to act upon ever-present opportunities.

Le-Yin discusses how the book came into being:

“This book grew out of the eponymous module that I have taught since 1998 at DPU. Many students over the years found the module useful and asked me to recommend a book that captures it all – I just could not name one.”

Something that makes the book unique is its development from a series of 18 lectures, which were shaped and delivered over many years to the students on MSc Urban Economic Development. However, although the lecture notes form the mainstay of the raw material for this book, these are complemented by newly crafted case studies drawn from across the world.

“Finding a unified theme was the most difficult” Le-Yin says, “The project only really came together when I realised the uniqueness of our approach at the DPU.”

“We have been looking at cities for longer than most other institutions; we are preoccupied with the developing world; our staff do research and consultancy, as well as teaching, to name but a few examples.”

“Above all, we want to connect theory with practice and to make a difference on the ground. The concern with the practises of city management is what holds the chapters together. “

Managing the City Economy: Challenges and Strategies in Developing Countries by Le-Yin Zhang was published by Routledge in March 2015. It is available to purchase from the publisher, and in many other outlets.