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About this book

The study of urban governance provides a valuable insight into economic, social, and political forces and how they shape city life. But who and what are the real drivers of change? This innovative text casts new light on the issues and re-examines the state of urban governance at the start of the twenty-first century.

Jon Pierre analyses four models of urban governance: 'management', 'corporatist', 'pro-growth' and 'welfare'. Each is assessed in terms of its implications for the major issues, interests and challenges in the contemporary urban arena. Distinctively, Pierre argues that institutions – and the values which underpin them – are the driving forces of change. The book also assesses the impact of globalization upon urban governance.

The long-standing debate on the decline of urban governance is re-examined and reformulated by Pierre, who applies a wider international approach to the issues. He argues that the changing cast of private and public actors, combined with new forms of political participation, have resulted in a transformation – rather than a decline – of contemporary urban governance.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Why Study Urban Politics?

Abstract
This is a book about how cities are governed, about the importance of institutions in urban governance and about the different goals cities prioritize. The book pursues an argument reaffirming the position of institutional theory in urban politics as a means of uncovering the structural and normative underpinnings of urban governance.
Jon Pierre

Chapter 2. The Challenge of Urban Governance

Abstract
Institutional analysis became a dominant theoretical perspective in political science in the early 1990s and showed convincingly that institutions, both in terms of organizational structure and as norms and values, are essential to understanding governance and political behaviour. At about the same time, institutional theory made important inroads in economics when Douglass North, the 1993 Nobel Prize laureate in economics, showed that actors in markets tend to use routines and simple rules rather than utility-maximizing strategies to make their decisions (North 1990). Whether in politics or markets, the institutional argument states that actors certainly have goals but the pursuit of those goals is embedded in, and constrained by, systems of rules, meanings and values, and ‘the organizational dimension of politics’ (March and Olsen 1989). If political analysis can uncover those underlying norms and values about what politics should be all about we are well under way to a deeper understanding of political and social behaviour.
Jon Pierre

Chapter 3. The Managerial City

Abstract
The managerial city is shorthand for urban governance dominated by non-elected officials, particularly senior-level administrators and managers. The managerial city has its intellectual roots in the perennial debate about the relationship between politicians and bureaucrats and also in the pervasive model of administrative reform in a large number of countries since the 1980s known as the New Public Management (NPM). Among UK cities, Birmingham might be a good example of a city where managers and a managerial philosophy shape urban governance. Managerial governance is probably more common in America than in Europe; indeed, a large number of cities and towns in the United States display urban governance where the city manager plays a leading role (Moore 1995). During the past couple of decades the notion of the professional city manager has become a role model for city governance and public management in the US. Since political and managerial leadership are to some extent communicating vessels, in order to understand managerial governance we must also look at the kind of political leadership which this models stipulates.
Jon Pierre

Chapter 4. Corporatist Governance

Abstract
Most observers of contemporary western societies would probably agree that a strong civil society with NGOs and voluntary associations are a defining feature of democratic governance. These organizations offer citizens opportunities for collective involvement, which is not aimed at political institutions, or at least not to the same extent as is the case with political parties. Instead, civil society allows individuals to become involved only in those issues that matter the most to them, such as environmental protection or human rights or equal opportunity. True, the ultimate target of those efforts often tends to be different political institutions, but the scope of these organizations goes beyond the political. The urban scene displays a plethora of such organizations, some of which have a fairly clear political agenda and others which pursue their interests through other channels.
Jon Pierre

Chapter 5. Pro-Growth Governance

Abstract
Of the four governance models covered in this book, pro-growth governance is probably the easiest and least challenging to understand. The simplicity of the model is to some extent the genius of it; economic growth is something which everyone in the community benefits from, directly or indirectly, hence there is (or should be) very little opposition towards a governance arrangement to that purpose. At the same time, it is the governance model which has the biggest potential for entailing a loss of democracy in the city. That is because pro-growth governance tends to bring the political elite close to the downtown elite, an arrangement that jeopardizes transparency and accountability and raises political concerns for those constituencies that are not part of the pro-growth coalition. In other words: pro-growth governance could bring prosperity to the city and its dwellers but that growth would come at a price. But, again, economic development is something which everyone benefits from.
Jon Pierre

Chapter 6. Welfare Governance

Abstract
The previous chapter looked at urban governance geared to promote economic growth. This chapter offers a quite different view on urban governance; one in which growth is all but non-existent and where the city has a primary role in accommodating its populace in a declining economy. As with all the governance models discussed in this book, the core argument is that the objectives of governance are related to the configuration of actors dominating that governance. Thus, we assume that there is a close linkage between those who control governance and the goals pursued in the process of governance. We should think about urban governance not just as a configuration of actors — in networks, in markets, or in political institutions — but also in terms of the direction and objectives of governance. Those objectives are defined in the tension between what is and what dominant political players think should be. Welfare governance emerges in political and economic contexts where the private sector offers only limited opportunities for work, and where work is available it is primarily low-wage, low-skill jobs.
Jon Pierre

Chapter 7. The Decline of Urban Politics?

Abstract
There is something mysterious, almost incomprehensible, about urban politics in much of the academic literature, as well as in political debate. Both empirical research and the philosophical, normative discourse on urban politics and local democracy are replete with seemingly contradictory statements and beliefs. Urban politics and local political debate have always been accorded strong positive values and processes of socialization and a school in democracy, from John Stuart Mill and de Tocqueville onwards. But for such debate not to become a meaningless ritual, local political institutions must have some autonomy in relationship to the state and some leverage to steer the local society. If they do not possess those resources, why bother to engage in local politics? Why, critics would ask, should citizens engage in political debate about policy choice when there are no real choices to be made?
Jon Pierre

Chapter 8. Cities in Global Governance

Abstract
The days of ordered institutional hierarchies appear to be gone, perhaps for good. Today, to say that the global, national, regional and local institutional levels are becoming more and more intertwined has become an almost banal statement. Global governance is not only a matter for nation states and trans-national institutions but for cities and regions as well. And, by the same logic, global forces — both political and economic — impact cities more strongly than before, challenging cities to accommodate those pressures and to exploit the opportunities that globalization offers. Policies, programmes and ‘protocols’ evolve through negotiated relationships among states as well as between all levels of the state and trans-national systems of institutions. Within the European Union, to give an example, member states have seen more than half of their previous domestically controlled legislation being replaced by decisions made by EU bodies.
Jon Pierre

Chapter 9. Conclusions: The Future of Urban Politics

Abstract
Ian Gordon and Nick Buck (2005: 6) recently observed that ‘the renewed optimism about cities at the start of the twenty-first century involves a shift from seeing them as essentially problematic residues of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century ways of organizing industrial economies towards the idea that they could again be exciting and creative places to live and work’. What represents a city, the profound meaning, role and function of cities, changes over time and across space. We started this book by emphasizing the economic, social and political role of cities in historical perspective. That role continues to change as a result of economic, social and political ‘megatrends’.
Jon Pierre
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