Place-less power, meaning the exercise of power by decision makers who are unconcerned about the impact of their decisions on communities living in particular places, has grown significantly in the last thirty years. A consequence is that societies are becoming more unequal. Even in the wealthy global cities modern capitalism is increasing inequality at a formidable rate. In a new book, Leading the Inclusive City (Policy Press), the author offers an international, comparative analysis of the efforts being made by place-based leaders to create inclusive, sustainable cities. This paper draws on the evidence presented in the book to suggest that place-based leaders can play a significant role in advancing social justice, promoting care for the environment and bolstering community empowerment. An opening section outlines a way of conceptualising the political space available to place-based leaders in any given context. It sets out a framework – The New Civic Leadership – that provides a new way of understanding the nature of modern civic leadership. The book provides seventeen examples of inspirational place-based leadership and in this paper one of these – the transformation of the central area of Melbourne, Australia – is selected to illustrate the argument. A final section discusses three emerging themes: 1) Can place-based leadership take on place-less power? 2) The need for outward-facing place-based leadership, and 3) The role of place-based leadership in bringing about radical public innovation.
Hambleton, R. (2015, April). Place-based leadership and urban innovation: The unsung drivers of progressive change in the modern era. Paper presented at Urban Affairs Association Annual Conference