The Bartlett School of Planning


Kan Zhu

Research subject

Building innovation under China’s evolving urban governance: A case study in Shanghai

Primary supervisor: Dr Fangzhu Zhang
Secondary supervisor: Professor Fulong Wu
Starting date: September 2018
Projected completion date: September 2022

Entering the era of the knowledge-based economy, worldwide policymakers have advocated the strategies of ‘siliconization’ to incorporate innovation into urban growth. However, understanding innovation as an urban phenomenon is still under-researched. This research project addresses this gap by studying the paralleled processes of innovation development and urban growth in a latecomer country, China. Through a political-economic perspective, it aims to depict a model that connects China’s innovation progresses and governance restructuring at the urban scope. Shanghai, which has been lately titled the ‘national innovation hub’, is chosen as the research area. First, this research looks into the driving rationales to foster innovation during the recent policy initiatives against the background of state restructuring. Second, it renews the relationship between land economy and innovation under the contemporary agendas of state spatial strategies. Third, it investigates the up-to-date instruments and agencies that have been employed by urban governance to facilitate, orchestrate, and capture the development of innovation. The research further questions if ‘financialization’ has been seen in the case of China’s ‘technopoles’ and testifies if ‘planning centrality’ (Wu, 2018) prevails against institutional and financial shifts during the plausible transformation of China’s development approach.



PGTA for BPLN005 Comparative Urban Projects (2018-2019)