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Since early notions of ‘Creative Cities’ in the mid 1980s (Landry, 2008), scholars from different areas [economists, urbanists and georgraphers], policy makers and urban planners have been proposing theories, strategies and normative guidelines, to transform urban settlements into creative places, this in order to achieve growth and progress within the knowledge economy. Among the several organisational structures for innovative transformations proposed by academics, the Creative Capital Model [CCM], introduced by Richard Florida in 2002, seems to be the latest framework for regional success in the global competitiveness rankings (Hansen et al. 2001).

Even though the CCM (Florida, 2002a) has been widely adopted by cities across US and EU for policy making and stategic development (Hoyman et al. 2009), both addressed to stimulate socioeconomic progress; its foundations [talent, diversity and technology], and the strategic perspective that is used to implement the model, have been challenged in terms of methodological appropriateness, and replicability and transferability of the subsequent normative framework designed to produce innovative transformations (Waitt et al. 2009), which currently represent the focus of a broad discussion among academics.

Even considering the impact of creativity, innovation and technology on socioeconomic progress and wealth in the context of the knowledge economy; several critiques to the CCM – [i] the assumptions on the linear progression of urban development, [ii] the high socioeconomic inequalities derived of the creative, but exclusionary, spaces, [iii] the assumption on the correlation between the amount of diversity and the attitude of tolerance; and [iv] the implicit favour to large metropolitan areas (Lewis et al. 2010) – have started to move the debate on creative cities to new dimensions. This in terms of the applicability of model to complex contexts and small cities, which, according to the framework proposed by Florida, does not present the basic requirements [talent, diversity and technology] for socioeconomic development based on creativity, innovation and technology.

Consequently, several topics related to ‘how to facilitate small cities to claim a portion of the creative economy’ have emerged as a central point of the most recent research on creative cities.

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