From our January 2015 issue: Reclaiming the European City and Lobbying for Privilege Business Improvement Districts in Germany

  1. Boris Michel1
  2. Christian Stein2

  1. 1Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen, Germany

  2. 2Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, Frankfurt/Main, Germany
  1. Boris Michel, Institut für Geographie, Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Kochstr. 4/4, D-91054 Erlangen, Germany. Email:


Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) are an increasing global phenomenon. In diverse places, they are established and sought of as helpful means to improve urban places. BIDs are frequently seen as a showcase for new forms of globalizing urban policies. This paper contrasts and broadens the frequent examples from the United States and the United Kingdom with experiences from Germany. We argue that this presents not just another example of BIDs as a mode of global neoliberal urban governance in yet another country. Instead, our case study highlights the elasticity and resilience of said concept and the impact of local trajectories on the mobilization of modes of urban governance. Compared with other places, BIDs in Germany remain relatively weak in terms of financial power. Nonetheless, the case of Hamburg shows how they are made suitable for discourses and practices of a neoliberalized “European City.”

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