A Small Entrepreneurial City in Action: Policy Mobility, Urban Entrepreneurialism, and Politics of Scale in Jiyuan, China


This research details the mundane practices of policy mobility and entrepreneurial endeavour in Jiyuan in relation to the city’s changing administrative position, and is one of the first attempts at understanding how entrepreneurial policies are mobilized, mutated and diffused in a small inland Chinese city. We interpret Jiyuan’s evolving development strategies and trajectory through two interrelated conceptual lenses—policy mobility and urban entrepreneurialism—bridged by an analysis of the politics of scale. Over the past three decades, governance strategies in Jiyuan have evolved from policy imitation, during the germination of urban entrepreneurialism, to policy mutation and diffusion, under the amplification of entrepreneurialism, as the city has moved up the administrative levels and urban hierarchy. Policy mobility and urban entrepreneurialism in Jiyuan, involving a multi‐scalar process, are being shaped by the interactions between the city, the region, the central state and global capital under the confluence of globalization and marketization. The ‘successful’ story of a small entrepreneurial city tells a new tale that can inform wider contexts by painting a fuller portrait of the evolution of an entrepreneurial city across different scales and time and bringing cities hitherto ‘off the map’ back into the picture of urban entrepreneurialism against the backdrop of globalization.