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Governing with the citizens: strategic planning in four Italian cities

Bussu, Sonia (2012) Governing with the citizens: strategic planning in four Italian cities. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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In recent years there has been much political and academic interest in new modes of local governance, which are increasingly based on deliberative mechanisms and aim at engaging larger sectors of the population (i.e. governance by networks, territorial pacts, strategic planning). Whereas the literature on urban governance has focused on the emergence of novel governance arrangements at city and regional levels and on the formation of a collective actor, deliberative democracy scholars have examined the democratic dimension (i.e. the deliberative forums) and assessed the applicability of their normative models to the real world; the literature on planning helps to understand the implementation gap that plagues many of these new arrangements. All these approaches often study the same empirical phenomena, however, with a few exceptions, debates within these literatures take no account of one another. This comparative case-study of strategic planning in four medium-sized Italian cities (Trento, Prato, Lecce, and Sassari), characterized by different socio-political and economic contexts, intends to contribute to bridging the gap between the above theoretical paradigms. Thus, the impact of strategic planning on the local polity is assessed on three levels: the formation of a collective actor, the democratic process, and implementation. Comparative analysis can help to evidence how such an impact is either hindered or enhanced by different forms and resources of leadership and how the latter interact with endogenous (i.e. pre-existing associational density) and exogenous factors (i.e. institutional constraints and opportunities at other jurisdictional levels). Different typologies of leadership will influence each dimension of the dependent variable (i.e. the formation of the collective actor, the democratic process, the implementation) to varying degrees. The type of leadership now required within the new multilevel governance system could be defined as facilitative leadership, which arises from the activity of working with, rather than exercising power over, others. This leadership is no longer identified solely with political institutions but often emerges from the coordinated work of a political sponsor and a public service CEO that acts as the champion of the governance process. Institutional constraints might affect outcomes, as weak administrative capacity and resistance to change from within the bureaucracy will hinder implementation. A facilitative leadership can help to drive cultural change and organisational learning within local institutions, while offering identity incentives to the wider community. While pre-existing associational dynamics do not influence outcomes, since an inclusive leadership can encourage greater participation even where the social fabric would seem weaker, poor policy coordination among jurisdictional tiers will inevitably hamper the positive effects of strategic planning at the local level, which might be lost in a plethora of fragmented initiatives.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Sonia Bussu
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Sets: Departments > Government
Supervisor: Hopkin, Jonathan and Page, Edward C.

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