Richard Florida

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Richard Florida speaking at the 2006 Out & Equal Workplace Summit.

Richard Florida (born 1957 in Newark, New Jersey) is an American urban studies theorist.

Professor Florida's focus is on social and economic theory. He is currently a professor and head of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the Rotman School of Management, at the University of Toronto. [1] He also heads a private consulting firm, the Creative Class Group.

Prof. Florida received a PhD from Columbia University in 1986. Prior to joining George Mason University's School of Public Policy where he spent two years, he taught at Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz College from 1987 to 2005.


[edit] Research and theories

He is best known for his work in developing his concept of the creative class, and its ramifications in urban regeneration. This research was expressed in Florida's bestselling books The Rise of the Creative Class, Cities and the Creative Class, and The Flight of the Creative Class. A new book, focusing on the issues surrounding urban renewal and talent migration, titled Who's Your City?, was recently published.

Prof. Florida's theory asserts that metropolitan regions with high concentrations of high-tech workers, artists, musicians, lesbians and gay men, and a group he describes as "high bohemians", correlate with a higher level of economic development. Florida posits the theory that the creative class fosters an open, dynamic, personal and professional environment. This environment, in turn, attracts more creative people, as well as businesses and capital. He suggests that attracting and retaining high-quality talent, versus a singular focus on infrastructure projects such as sports stadiums, iconic buildings, and shopping centers, would be a better primary use of a city's regeneration resources for long-term prosperity.

He has devised his own ranking systems that rate cities by a "Bohemian index," a "Gay index," a "diversity index" and similar criteria.

Florida's earlier work focused on innovation by manufacturers, including the continuous improvement systems implemented by automakers like Toyota.

[edit] Criticism and controversy

Florida's theories are the source of both praise and controversy. Florida's ideas have been criticized from a variety of political perspectives, and by both academics and journalists. His theories have been criticized as being elitist, and his data have been questioned.[2]

Researchers have also criticized Florida's work for its methodology. Terry Nichols Clark (University of Chicago) has used Florida's own data-sets to question the correlation between the presence of significant numbers of gay men in a city and the presence of high-technology knowledge industries. [3]

Other critics have said that the conditions it describes may no longer exist, and that his theories may be better suited to politics, rather than economics [4]. Florida has gone on to directly reply to a number of these objections. [5]

Florida's first book, The Rise of the Creative Class, which was followed by a 'prequel' titled Cities and the Creative Class, which provided more in-depth data to support his findings, came at the end of the dot-com boom (it was first published in 2002). However, with the rise of Google, the juggernauts of Web 2.0, and the constant call from business leaders (often seen in publications such as Business 2.0) for a more creative, as well as skilled, workforce, he and his supporters assert the contemporary relevance of Florida's research is easy to see.[5]

[edit] Partial bibliography

[edit] Critical articles on Florida

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes

[edit] External links

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