Responsive governance and complex urban settings: Responding to change in an urban policy arena - Brisbane (QLD) Australia and Portland (OR) USA

Schmidt, Paul (2017). Responsive governance and complex urban settings: Responding to change in an urban policy arena - Brisbane (QLD) Australia and Portland (OR) USA PhD Thesis, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Queensland. doi:10.14264/uql.2017.336

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Author Schmidt, Paul
Thesis Title Responsive governance and complex urban settings: Responding to change in an urban policy arena - Brisbane (QLD) Australia and Portland (OR) USA
School, Centre or Institute School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Institution The University of Queensland
DOI 10.14264/uql.2017.336
Publication date 2017-02-10
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Ann Peterson
Tiffany Morrison
Total pages 320
Language eng
Subjects 160603 Comparative Government and Politics
160510 Public Policy
120504 Land Use and Environmental Planning
Formatted abstract
Despite remarkable progress in planning and management, the development of adaptive governance for urban settings is incomplete; particularly in the context of global change and uncertainty (Birkmann et al. 2010, Wilkinson 2012). Urban settings are characterised by complex institutions and power relations that tend to resist rather than adjust to change. Established interests are often prioritised; emergent ‘non-core’ interests can remain marginal, and can lose capacity during critical change (Jänicke 1997). Given this situation, how does the governance of a ‘non-core’ policy arena adjust to change over time?

Public administration and political science literatures examine the role of networks, policy instruments and institutions in changes to governance. The adaptive governance problem demands a better understanding of responsive change with respect to: institutions (Goodin 1996, Dovers and Hezri 2010); hybrid governance arrangements (Skelcher 2012); power relations (Evans 2011); and the role of the public in public governance (Sorenson and Torfing 2005). As such, the investigation contributes towards a more critical application of resilience thinking to governance settings. This research develops an investigative framework from these literatures to examine the diverse responses of governance actors to change.

Using a comparative case study approach, the investigative framework examines how policy instruments (i.e. formal structures), urban regimes (i.e. informal structures) and the broader institutional context (e.g. regional governance) interact to shape the types and extent of governance adjustments over time. The focus is the policy arena of urban ecological governance within two metropolitan areas of Brisbane (QLD) Australia and Portland (OR) USA. These cases show important aspects of responsive governance in urban settings that are not included within more normative recommendations for adaptive governance, such as advocacy, contention and multiple framings of governance. How or whether inter-actor responses are coordinated depend on these and other factors such as legitimacy and interaction between types of responses.

The research concludes that rather than seeing resilient policy arenas as requiring the ‘governance of adaptation’ through particular normative forums, structures or principles, it is more useful to focus on and potentially steer the supporting factors that underpin diverse inter-actor responses to change across a policy arena. This iii ‘governance and adaptation’ view recognises that in urban settings, actors and their agency are embedded within multiple structures. Many of these structures cannot be adapted, but critically, some realign as an adjustment to change and this potentially supports adaptation. Metagovernance is found to be critical, although in general it is partially decentred amongst a set of key actors. A ‘governance and adaptation’ framework builds a policy arena-wide explanation from empirical settings. The findings have significant implications for efforts to enhance responsive governance in urban settings and to better strengthen its resilience to future uncertainties.
Keyword Urban
Urban regimes
Adaptive governance
Environmental planning

Document type: Thesis
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Created: Tue, 07 Feb 2017, 10:21:08 EST by Paul Schmidt on behalf of Learning and Research Services (UQ Library)