In the development of modern urban systems, we are facing a shift from central cities as the major location of coordination functions, high-order services and innovative activities, to interconnected nodes at some distance in a larger metropolitan area. However, which cities in the emerging new spatial constellation qualify to become such a node is not yet clear, and depends also on the organizing capacity of the municipalities involved. This article addresses spread over a larger metropolitan area from the point of view of place-bound versus footloose behavior of young, innovative firms as the drivers of economic renewal. A theoretical review of location needs and footlooseness is followed by an empirical contribution to identify whether increased footlooseness of such companies is emerging in the Netherlands. The results prompt the need for a more thorough reflection on related policy issues. The policy part of the article addresses in particular some evolutionary views to understand why urban policymaking is subject to various systemic constraints, while next some empirical results on weaknesses in the urban organizing capacity to benefit from a shift towards a global metropolitan area are highlighted. In this context, we focus the attention specifically on policies dealing with information and communication technology and the uncertainty at hand. © The Author(s) 2009.