This paper puts forward a conceptual framework of the strategy process which treats decline and crisis as an integral element of the search for locally appropriate responses to urban shrinkage. Rather than replicating unsuccessful attempts to create economic growth and competitive advantage in cities that have not been growing for many years, local leaders from all sectors need to be better supported in finding ways to generate local responses to urban shrinkage within policy frameworks that tend to offer very limited support for shrinking cities. This paper challenges assumptions that strategy is about the continuous increase in prosperity and argues for a strategy process which tackles the causes and consequences of decline with resources that local stakeholders can control. The paper concludes with arguments that professional development and higher education programmes need to place stronger emphasis on models of leadership and strategy which reflect the practical challenges associated with gaining control over long term decline.
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