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Urban governance and its impact on the role perception and behaviour of european city councillors


Plüss, Larissa (2013). Urban governance and its impact on the role perception and behaviour of european city councillors. Local Government Studies, 39(5):721-737.

Abstract

The trend towards new forms of political steering at the local level is a matter of fact that has been demonstrated in numerous studies. Thereby, the development is not one-dimensional, but produces a variety of different types of urban governance. Presumably, the empiric trend towards new forms of political steering changes the political power structure and the roles of relevant actors in local politics. The present article assesses the implications of different models of urban governance on the significance and the behaviour of the city councillors. Drawing on the MAELG survey on European city councillors, the hypothesis of whether the political relevance of the city council is lower under new forms of governance due to the inclusion of private actors and a new allocation of functions and political roles is tested. Furthermore, it is assumed that municipal councillors consequently display specific communication patterns and network strategies to enhance or restore their influence in local politics. The results of the multilevel analyses are only partly in line with the theoretic assumptions. The main hypothesis that the implementation of new urban steering modes generally weakens the councillors' position of power must be rejected. Different kinds of urban governance arrangements have unequal effects on the political relevance of the city councillors, and new steering instruments often strengthen the influence of the municipal council. Apparently, the institutional organisation of urban governance matters to a large extent. Regarding networking activities, the councillors evidently adapt their communication strategies to the present urban governance model. The empirical findings corroborate the hypothesis that municipal councillors pursue specific network strategies according to the prevailing governance context by expanding their ties with the respective key players. Furthermore, the frequency of communication has a positive impact on the significance of the council in local politics. City councillors who are in close contact with relevant local actors clearly feel more influential in local decision-making processes.

Abstract

The trend towards new forms of political steering at the local level is a matter of fact that has been demonstrated in numerous studies. Thereby, the development is not one-dimensional, but produces a variety of different types of urban governance. Presumably, the empiric trend towards new forms of political steering changes the political power structure and the roles of relevant actors in local politics. The present article assesses the implications of different models of urban governance on the significance and the behaviour of the city councillors. Drawing on the MAELG survey on European city councillors, the hypothesis of whether the political relevance of the city council is lower under new forms of governance due to the inclusion of private actors and a new allocation of functions and political roles is tested. Furthermore, it is assumed that municipal councillors consequently display specific communication patterns and network strategies to enhance or restore their influence in local politics. The results of the multilevel analyses are only partly in line with the theoretic assumptions. The main hypothesis that the implementation of new urban steering modes generally weakens the councillors' position of power must be rejected. Different kinds of urban governance arrangements have unequal effects on the political relevance of the city councillors, and new steering instruments often strengthen the influence of the municipal council. Apparently, the institutional organisation of urban governance matters to a large extent. Regarding networking activities, the councillors evidently adapt their communication strategies to the present urban governance model. The empirical findings corroborate the hypothesis that municipal councillors pursue specific network strategies according to the prevailing governance context by expanding their ties with the respective key players. Furthermore, the frequency of communication has a positive impact on the significance of the council in local politics. City councillors who are in close contact with relevant local actors clearly feel more influential in local decision-making processes.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Political Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:320 Political science
Language:English
Date:October 2013
Deposited On:06 Nov 2013 15:40
Last Modified:07 Dec 2017 23:27
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:1743-9388
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/03003930.2012.670750
Official URL:http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/03003930.2012.670750
Related URLs:http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03003930.2012.670750#.UnfBkcUlOkw

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