Swiss metropolitan areas and their municipalities face challenges as e.g. the increasing number and the bigger mobility of their inhabitants, economic structural changes or the on-going urban sprawl in suburban regions. Whereas the core cities of such areas have been studied intensively, there exist little theoretical and empirical knowledge about the political decision-making and implementation processes in smaller suburban municipalities concerning the important relations between the public and the private for planning and generating the built environment.
I thus investigate the following research questions: What different kinds of governance arrangements exist in suburban municipalities and which factors let these types emerge? How then can public and private stakeholders influence the decision making and implementation processes of local development policies within these arrangements? Theoretically I draw on literature about local governance-types, recent work on small democracies and on urban regime theory. The case selection bases on two criteria theoretically relevant for the emergence of different governance arrangements: The size and the economic situation of a municipality.
The results of the qualitative analysis show that different governance arrangements exist in the four suburban municipalities related to the collaboration between relevant actors, the decision and implementation rationales and the political resources used. Bigger municipalities tend to be governed by urban regime-like forms of cooperation between public and private actors. Governance arrangements in smaller municipalities are however characterised by looser forms of cooperation. Where public actors are able to dominate the local governance arrangements in economically positive surroundings, they are more dependent on private actors in shrinking municipalities, but only when it comes to pivotal building projects because the mayors interpret the role of the state more in an active, than only in an intervening way.