New spaces for the new economy : New patters for the location of advanced services in post-Fordism

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Previous phases of capitalism produced specific spatial patterns of location and agglomeration of economic activity in different urban contexts around the world. This is particularly true for sophisticated service firms, which used to rely on specific and scarce technical and spatial advantages found almost exclusively in city centres. During the 20th century, the general, albeit uneven expansion and spread of urban technical networks allowed sophisticated services to locate more flexibly. In late capitalism, as Fordism gives way to Post-Fordism, the character of spatial agglomeration of economic activity is bound to change. Knowledgeintensive service industries have a different logic for agglomeration than industrial activities used to have. They still seem to need to agglomerate and cluster, but for different reasons and in completely different ways. This paper reviews current theories on the agglomeration and location of advanced services and investigates the hypothesis that the shift towards a knowledge-based economy and the emphasis on the production, trade and diffusion of knowledge by advanced producer services is triggering specific spatial-structural transformations in cities under globalization. In order to explore this hypothesis, this paper analyses empirical evidence on the location patterns of command activities in the form of advanced producer service firms and transnational firms headquarters in São Paulo, a thriving global city in a rapid growing economy. It analyses the impact of location choices in urban structural transformation; it also explores convergences and divergences in spatial development produced by place-specific conditions. Moreover, it illustrates how governments have acted to provide the spatial conditions for the location and agglomeration of command activities by carrying out large urban projects in partnership with the private sector.
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, 2010 Space is Luxury, Aalto, July 7-10th
globalization, urban transformation, advanced producer services, agglomeration, centralities
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