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Accepted Paper:

The people vs. Pittsburgh’s high-tech economy: how the Allegheny conference on community development constructed consensus to a post-industrial future  
Mark Paterson (University of Pittsburgh)

Short abstract:

Pittsburgh has become associated with high-tech sectors and become profiled as a flagship renaissance city. We consider the role of civic institutions like the elite-led Allegheny Conference on Community Development (ACCD) through archival data and strategic narrative, and communities it left out.

Long abstract:

Why do urban regions like Pittsburgh, PA become associated with high-tech sectors, attract expertise and investment, and become profiled as a flagship renaissance city? Recent research considers the role of institutions, and how agency exercised within them translates into particular pathways of development. What is the role of civic institutions, and how do they become allied to governmental and corporate interests? We contribute a case study of the role of civic institutions in Pittsburgh, PA. Pittsburgh has transitioned away from reliance on industrial manufacturing to a more diversified base that boasts a robust high-tech sector, including bio-science, robotics, and technological research. It is also subject to some of the greatest disparities in health outcomes, mortality, and income for its African-American residents. Despite this, its development as flagship tech powerhouse occurred in part through the actions of civic institutions like the elite-led Allegheny Conference on Community Development (ACCD). Using archival data and strategic narrative, we show how the ACCD played a critical role in constructing consensus among select stakeholders by (1) using diagnostic frames to articulate the city’s challenges and possible futures, (2) securing access to resources that could lower the costs of participation for select stakeholders, and (3) selectively recruiting a critical mass of stakeholders. These actions allowed the ACCD to play key roles in facilitating the transition to the high-tech economy. At the same time, we show how internal power dynamics rendered the consensus only partial, excluding the input and interests of many of the city’s and region’s residents.

Traditional Open Panel P103
Mobilizing regions for innovation
  Session 1 Friday 19 July, 2024, -