Thursday, 17 July 2014

Special Issue - City-region governance, 10 years on

Special Issue - City-region governance, 10 years on

Edited by John Harrison & Michael Hoyler (Loughborough University)

The expansion of globalising cities into global city-regions poses key challenges for rethinking city-region governance. Often reliant on inadequate urban-economic infrastructure and fragmented urban-regional planning and governance arrangements, these newly emerging metropolitan spaces have generated impassioned debate about more ‘appropriate’, widely understood to mean more flexible, networked and smart, forms of planning and governance. At the same time,  new expressions of territorial cooperation and conflict have surfaced around issues relating to economic restructuring and increased competitiveness, infrastructure development, the collective provision of services, and governmentalised remappings of state space. Our contention is that the challenge of city-region governance is more pressing today than ever before.

Some ten years on from Allen Scott’s original treatise on the rise of city-regions in globalisation (Global City-Regions: Trends, Theory, Policy), what we hope to achieve with this Special Issue is a furthering of our understanding of the main governance tasks facing metropolitan regions. In the introductory paper, Governing the new metropolis, we identify four central tenets of the metropolitan region/governance debate and discuss their relevance for future research on city-regions: (1) periodisation and trajectories, (2) democracy and accountability, (3) form and function, and (4) fragility and mobilisation. These, we argue, pose key challenges for rethinking city-region governance within the emerging new metropolitan paradigm. Drawing on situated knowledge from research conducted on Amazonia, Canada, India, Ireland, The Netherlands, United Kingdom and the United States, each theme is then unpacked and developed across 11papers. Exploring some of the main contentions and as yet unanswered questions in the metropolitan region/governance debate, each contribution examines how current and near-future research can proffer new insights into, and bring about advances to, understanding city-regions and city-region governance.

It is our hope that the lines of argument developed in this issue will prove useful for scholars researching globalising cities and city-regions; provide an important staging post for considering the challenges of metropolitan governance; and ultimately contribute to a healthy programme of city-region research for the next decade. By bringing together both familiar and emerging voices the issue provides an up-to-date account of the different perspectives being developed to illicit fresh understandings of city-region governance. In adopting this approach we actively encourage others to join us in taking forward this research agenda, by responding directly to the arguments proposed in this issue and offering their own insights into the challenges for rethinking city-region governance. For us this is an innovative and productive area of research, and we look forward to seeing what response the issue generates.