Business community structures and urban regimes: A comparative analysis


Author/Creator ORCID



Type of Work



Citation of Original Publication

de Socio, M. 2007. Business community structures and urban regimes: A comparative analysis. Journal of Urban Affairs 29(4): 339-365.



Regime theorists often present business interests as coherent and unified communities with unitary interests. A central principle of regime theory, however, is that business elites tend to occupy privileged positions within regime coalitions because of the scope of resources and expertise they command and cities require for economic development and/or fiscal solvency. Cities are generally home to a wide range of business activities operating at various scales, and business elites representing various corporations in different economic sectors arguably command different kinds of resources and expertise that are functional to the economic activities with which they are affiliated. Various mixes of business elites representing different economic activities might therefore produce differentially biased input regarding urban policy-making and affect the types of regime coalitions that cities develop. Utilizing compilations of interlocking directorates among major organizations across three sectors, profiles of the corporate and social community structures of 24 U.S. cities are generated and a correlation matrix comprised of business and social organizational categories is produced. Factor analysis of the correlation matrix identifies three separate mixes of corporate and social organizational categories that generally conform to descriptions of developmental, caretaker, and progressive regime typologies. These three factors serve as prototypes of the three broad regime types and their corporate community structures. Correlations of the 24 cities with each of the three regime prototypes generally match their regime types as identified through previous case studies. Variations in regime types among cities might therefore be attributed to varying degrees of diversity in the kinds of corporations headquartered or located within them. Closer attention to the economic base of cities—the producers, after all, of local business elites—may reveal internal biases and/or material predisposition towards some urban policies over others by local business elites in relation to the economic activities with which they are linked.