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Megacities and the challenge of governance


Kübler, Daniel (2012). Megacities and the challenge of governance. In: Governance issues in megacities: Chinese and international perspectives, Beijing, 9 October 2012 - 10 October 2012.

Abstract

The emergence of megacities raises a number of conceptual questions for political science and public administration. It is as yet unclear to what extent the huge size of megacities presents conditions that require qualifications or adaptations to existing concepts and theoretical models for the analysis of governance in megacities as compared to urban regions of lesser size. The aim of this paper is to discuss this conceptual issue. With respect to policy problems, distinctions between megacities and smaller cities seem to be a matter of degree rather than quality. With respect to governability, however, megacities seem to present particular problems: institutional complexity, a weakness of public resources and, linked to this, an actor system where private businesses and the informal sector plays a more important role, as well as a strong entwinement between local and national governments. Only the new regionalist approach rests on theoretical premises that can, realistically, seen to be met in megacities. Analysing megacity governance on the basis of the new regionalist approach means to focus our attention on four elements that facilitate coordination by negotiation: (a) actors’ attitudes towards sustained negotiation as the core means of policy-coordination, (b) the emergence of consensus as a mode of interaction, (c) the construction of political leadership at the scale of the megacity, (d) the use of slack in the multi-levelled relationships by policy-relevant actors.

Abstract

The emergence of megacities raises a number of conceptual questions for political science and public administration. It is as yet unclear to what extent the huge size of megacities presents conditions that require qualifications or adaptations to existing concepts and theoretical models for the analysis of governance in megacities as compared to urban regions of lesser size. The aim of this paper is to discuss this conceptual issue. With respect to policy problems, distinctions between megacities and smaller cities seem to be a matter of degree rather than quality. With respect to governability, however, megacities seem to present particular problems: institutional complexity, a weakness of public resources and, linked to this, an actor system where private businesses and the informal sector plays a more important role, as well as a strong entwinement between local and national governments. Only the new regionalist approach rests on theoretical premises that can, realistically, seen to be met in megacities. Analysing megacity governance on the basis of the new regionalist approach means to focus our attention on four elements that facilitate coordination by negotiation: (a) actors’ attitudes towards sustained negotiation as the core means of policy-coordination, (b) the emergence of consensus as a mode of interaction, (c) the construction of political leadership at the scale of the megacity, (d) the use of slack in the multi-levelled relationships by policy-relevant actors.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper), not refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Political Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:320 Political science
Language:English
Event End Date:10 October 2012
Deposited On:15 Feb 2013 10:53
Last Modified:07 Dec 2017 19:40
Additional Information:Organized by the Chinese Academy of Social Science, the Beijing University of Technology and the University of Zurich in the framework of the Sino-Swiss Science and Technology Programme

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