Oxford Programme for
the Future of Cities The Flexible City: rethinking the urban to face future challenges
James Simmie (Department of Planning, Oxford Brookes University) develops an evolutionary economics approach to adaptation and change in urban economies.
Abstract: In this lecture, James Simmie develops one of the evolutionary economics approaches to understanding adaptation and change in the economic trajectories of urban economies. Neo-classical equilibrist versions of resilience and adaptation are rejected in favour of an evolutionary perspective. He argues in particular for an explanation based on why and how local economies adapt through time both to continual mutations and to periodic gales of creative destruction. Simmie focuses on the extent to which the “panarchy” conceptual framework can suggest testable hypotheses concerning urban and regional resilience. He explores some of these by examining the long-term economic development of two illustrative city-regional economies and one regional economy. These are Cambridge, Swansea and the West Midlands. The findings suggest that adaptive capacity and resilience are built up over years and decades. They are dependent on the generation of endogenous new knowledge, the co-evolution of facilitating institutions and cultures and the conscious decisions of firms and public authorities.