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Performing Smartness Differently - Strategic Enactments of a Global Imaginary in Three European Cities

Andreas Exner (), Livia Cepoiu (), Carla Weinzierl () and Viviana Asara ()

SRE-Discussion Papers from WU Vienna University of Economics and Business

Abstract: In the scholarly literature on smart city, normative and prescriptive approaches dominate. Most publications with analytic goals focus on transnational corporations, the related global imaginary of a smart city, and on associated new technologies. In comparison, actually existing smart cities have seldom been investigated. This is even more the case for public governance arrangements of smart city policies. Our study compares three EU cities in this regard, which are attempting to take a lead in smart city development. In addition, urban agriculture and citizens' participation are specifically investigated in their relation to smart city policy-making. Based on policy document and media discourse analysis, interviews, and participant observation, three governance arrangements of smart city policies are identified: hierarchical governance by the government in Barcelona between 2011 and 2015, closed co-governance by the city executive and non-governmental actors in Vienna and since 2015 in Barcelona, and open co-governance in Berlin. Citizens' participation is in the center in Barcelona since 2015, and is potentially important in Berlin. The Viennese smart city governance arrangement is characterized by non-hierarchical bargaining within the administration and signals innovative meta-governance, without citizens' participation. In all three cities, international dynamics play a crucial role for engaging with smart city, but it is enacted in particular ways according to place-specific history, social forces, and economic and political conditions. The meaning of smart city varies thus considerably: a comprehensive urban sustainability strategy focused upon climate policy goals in Vienna; a comprehensive internationalization strategy in Barcelona between 2011 and 2015; a limited technology- and business-oriented approach in Berlin; and a limited digital city frame geared to participatory democracy and technological sovereignty in Barcelona since 2015. Contrary to the literature, we highlight the agency of city executives, and the place-specific enactments that global smart city imaginaries undergo. Current smart city policies express more continuity than rupture with regard to urban development policies in our case study cities.

Keywords: Smart City; Stadtentwicklung; Öffentliche Governance; Governance; Arrangement smart city; urban development; public governance; governance arrangement (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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