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Governance over Time

Spatial Differentiation & Temporal Change of Urban Development and Redevelopment Strategies in the Pearl River Delta


The project on governance over time has a focus on the investigation of urban development and redevelopment strategies in the Pearl River Delta (PRD). Within the PRD, there are differences between the various regions in terms of their respective starting points and the speed of their economic transition: While some are at the forefront of experimental reforms, others are former provincial backwaters that are still catching up with the process of economic development. Competition is pushing the cities to foster creativity and innovation.

Overall Objectives

We focus on the governance of urban development and redevelopment strategies aimed at advancement along the economic value chain. Increasing global local competition requires constant adaptation of urban development strategies on the part of the Chinese metropolis. From an analytical governance perspective, we are investigating how economic clusters in the PRD, especially in Guangzhou and Shenzhen, are either newly developed or restructured over time.


The findings will contribute to a more specific understanding of the governance of urban development and redevelopment strategies in megacities. Furthermore, they will facilitate a more comprehensive understanding of the general issue of governability in mega-urban regions as well as concerning the role of economic restructuring policies in the field of urban development.

Key Research Questions

  1. How do strategies of urban development and redevelopment evolve over time and space?
  2. Which stakeholders are involved in the governance of urban development and redevelopment strategies?
  3. Which role does formal and informal communication play in the governance of the clusters investigated, and in which way can urban informality be considered a success factor for these developments?
  4. What can we learn from the investigation of governance over time in terms of the governability of a highly dynamic megaurban region?

Case Studies

Our case studies focus on development and adaptation strategies that allow spatial economic clusters to continue to be attractive for companies and the workforce on one hand, and on the role of local authorities, businesses, and other micro-level stakeholders in decisionmaking on development and redevelopment strategies on the other. The investigation of stakeholders involved and the comparison of specific decisionmaking patterns with those in areas of the PRD that are supposedly more advanced, such as Shenzhen, will result in a broader picture of urban governance of this megaurban region. Our main case studies focus on economic restructuring strategies within two distinct spatial entities.

Guangzhou Science City
In the case of Guangzhou Science City, we investigate the governance of new high-tech development in a showcase project of Guangzhou municipality. We consider this to be a top-down urban development approach that has been planned as comprehensive urban environment, much in contrast to earlier developments, which had been erected as rather mono-functional spaces.

Guangzhou Drapery District
In the case of the drapery district of Guangzhou, we investigate the governance of the ongoing restructuring process in a comparatively established industry. Due to increasing global and local competition, local stakeholders have initiated a massive shift from traditional knitting and assembling towards the erection of huge wholesale malls combined with new housing.

Project Team

University of Hamburg
Department of Economic Geography
Bundesstraße 55
D-20146 Hamburg, Germany

Dr. Michael Waibel
Tel.: +49-40-42838.5030
Email: mwaibel@gwdg.de

Dipl.-Geogr. Friederike Schröder
Tel.: +49-40-42838.5217
Email: schroederfriederike@gmx.de

Cooperation Partners

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Department of Building and Real Estate
Associate Prof. Dr. Bo-sin Tang
Email: bsbstang@inet.polyu.edu.hk

Sun Yat-sen University Guangzhou
School of Government Centre for Urban Studies
Associate Prof. Dr. Yanling He
Email: 2006hyl@163.com

University of Kassel - Germany
Department of Urban Regeneration
Henschelstraße 2
D-34109 Kassel, Germany
Prof. Dr. Uwe Altrock
Email: altrock@asl.uni-kassel.de