Theories of urban governance determine the procedural variations of urban political systems and their influence over outcomes and policy formation. Through public-private partnerships, the process of governance regulates, coordinates and controls socio-political and economic decisions made at the local, national and inter-state levels. Both public and private institutions actively engaged in the urban political realm, have varied objectives that influence their respective governance models. In addition, different sections of the city and administrative bodies employ distinct models based on different political inclinations, context-specific issues, concerns and targets. 

10 Things architects learn about Urban Management
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  1. Governance models can be classified as managerial, corporate, pro-growth and welfare state-based. They differ with regard to stakeholders, agents and actors, objectives, legal instruments and resultant outcomes. Furthermore, these models are influenced by the dynamics between the different tiers of government, the various sectors operating in distinct ways, the interests and capabilities of the primary stakeholders, and cities within the same nation-state with distinct organized interests in urban governance reflected through differences in their urban policies. 
  2. Strategies of urban governance emerge as a combination of several basic concepts and rarely adhere to an idyllic, utopian format. The local government functions as an agent of democracy in its capacity to resolve political conflict. The managerial model, however, illustrates the institution’s role as a public organization that addresses the needs and interests of its constituency through service production and delivery. As a result, two different aspects demand different sets of solutions that constantly compete for recognition. 
  1. Managerial models emerged as a consequence of the fiscal crisis of nation-states and local governments. The system embraces the entrance of market-driven concepts into urban politics significantly deviating from established values and norms relating to the public sector. Consequently, the introduction of NPM (new public management) into urban politics considerably diminishes the role and influence of local authorities and elected officials, placing greater emphasis on the participation of managers of organizations and customers.The model blurs the public-private distinction promising a direct service-oriented approach for its customers. 
  2. The Corporatist model of governance that exists in the smaller industrial democracies of Western Europe, is characterized by a large public sector, increased political involvement, redistributive policies, proportional representation and voluntary associations. The concept is founded on values distinct from the Managerial model, emphasizing the role of social groups and organizations which in turn increases democratic participation. These organizational strategies are subject to change with regard to the altered economic viabilities of different tiers of government. Corporatist government co-ordinates strategies between local governments and organizations in the interest of public service.
  3. A Progrowth model institutionalizes public-private partnerships facilitating negotiations and agreeable conditions for collaboration between the State and market power based on mutual interests in the local economy. The growth of an urban political economy is primarily concerned with the extent of political choice, placing the interest of cities on a similar footing with the interest of export industries. Political choice in this context encompasses the actions and decisions relating to strategy implementation, policy choices and the selection of partners and stakeholders. The model is the least participatory in nature of all the governance models. 
  1. The socio-political prerequisites that guarantee a cohesive collaboration between public and private actors involve national traditions of state strength and a pronounced public presence in the markets. These partnerships aim to accelerate the local economy through urban planning, resource management from the regional and national governments, the development of infrastructure and the contribution to the imageability of the city to attract investment. 
  1. Previously prosperous industrial centers trapped within a passive state policy which has resulted in a stagnant local economy are known as the Welfare States. The flow of capital into the economy is facilitated by the welfare system which assists in city-state relations. The state refrains from forging partnerships with private enterprises and remains limited to political and administrative officials within the higher echelons of government. The system displays the need for private investment but alienates it, creating economically stagnant sections that are dependent on state sponsorship. As a result of a marked increase in unemployment and unsuccessful corporate strategies, the Welfare State has been characterized by a leftist political outlook. 
  1. States are governed through the adoption of several models in varying formats primarily dependent on the actors and agencies involved, their foundational beliefs and objectives, mobilization of resources and urban planning strategies and agendas. These models are built through partnerships between public government officials, representatives of private enterprises and organizations in a complex, layered socio-political and economic landscape to create coherent strategies that benefit the state and accelerate economic growth. 
  1. The Progrowth and Managerial models are purpose-driven, market conforming and not process-oriented. The Welfare State and the Corporatist model are process-driven and are directed at containing market forces. Collectively, they represent different institutions in urban politics.
  1. Institutional theory presents a legitimate theoretical framework to gain an understanding of urban politics and its role and influence over organizational structures in government. It distinguishes between the normative and organizational aspects of local governance and highlights the systems of values that give meaning and direction to governance. Urban governance is a multidimensional process and a consequence of negotiations, partnerships, codependency and conflicts. It is not dominated by the decisions of local governments alone and does not adhere to a format determined by a singular authority. 

Trisha Sarkar is an architect and an urbanist with a foundation in fine art followed by a B.Arch from CEPT University, Ahmedabad, and a Master’s degree in City Design from the Royal College of Art, London.Her workharnesses the potential of architecture to inspire critical thought and instil sensitivity.

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