Developing Urban Growth and Urban Quality: Entrepreneurial Governance and Urban Redevelopment Projects in Copenhagen and Hamburg

Jürgen Bruns-Berentelg, Luise Noring, Adam Grydehøj*

*Corresponding author for this work

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This paper considers the cases of urban redevelopment at waterfront and brownfield sites in Copenhagen (Denmark) and Hamburg (Germany) to explore how two municipal governments have pursued divergent kinds of entrepreneurial governance, even as they have aimed to create similar kinds of new-build neighbourhoods. Copenhagen and Hamburg have both engaged in large-scale speculative development projects, simultaneously raising urban land values and adding urban public good. The cities follow a long tradition of using land value capture to raise funds for municipal activities, yet their scopes of action and tools for achieving progress have been shaped by local economic and political conditions. Although both cities began redevelopment at similar kinds of sites in the 1990s, Copenhagen’s municipal government was relatively impoverished, while Hamburg’s municipal government was relatively wealthy. As a result, even though both cities deployed state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and revolving funds models to reinvest revenues in future development, they possessed different potential strategies for increasing intercity competitiveness: Copenhagen’s immediate aim in redeveloping its Ørestad and harbour districts was to fund a citywide mass transit system and thereby enhance competitiveness through infrastructure development, while Hamburg sought to use its HafenCity waterfront redevelopment to boost competitiveness through port modernisation, increased in urban quality and commercial expansion in the city centre. By comparing these two cases, we can better understand the contingent nature of entrepreneurial governance and urban redevelopment processes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalUrban Studies
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)161-177
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Published online: September 15, 2020.


  • Governance
  • Housing
  • Local government
  • Planning
  • Redevelopment/regeneration
  • State-owned enterprises
  • Urban growth

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