The Shaping of Local Self-Government and Economic Development through City Strategic Planning: A Case Study
In the contemporary multiplying uncertainties of local governments, politicians and public managers are constantly faced by a recurrent problem: despite financial constraints and with scarce resources, they have to combine the delivery of efficient public services with local economic development and democratic quality. This paper draws on an ethnography concerning the design and implementation of a Strategic Planning process within a Spanish city government and is framed by the proposition that local governments are experimental places for what is usually referred to as democratic governance. Focusing on the way in which the use of Strategic Planning entails a trade-off between urban and economic development and democracy, the article explores how this formal mechanism of citizens’ and business´ participation serves to establish relational processes to reinvigorate local economic development, democracy and administrative modernization. The paper also argues that, in order to fully implement new urban development practices at the local level, it is necessary to take into account not only institutional issues, but also the communal, social and political resources that frame both formal and informal deliberations propelled by the Strategic Planning process. It is the interaction and combination of these that determine the paths and developments of local government innovations.
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