Landsbygd i Ghana.
Photo: Virgyl Sowah

Political Change and Local Governance in Emerging Cities

Research project
Active research
Project size
11 959 775
Project period
2023 - ongoing
Project owner
Department of Political Science

Short description

As the world rapidly urbanizes, it is more important than ever to examine the integration of new migrants, poverty alleviation strategies, patterns of decision-making, and the distribution of housing and sanitation in emerging cities. The project “Political Change and Local Governance in Emerging Cities" aims to examine inclusive governance, political participation, and equitable development in emerging cities around the world, specifically in Brazil, Ghana, and Tunisia. 

By 2050, more than two-thirds of the world’s population will be living in cities, and the future of 7 billion people will depend on urban governance and development. Most of our knowledge about how cities work comes from the world’s largest and most established cities. Yet, most people live in emerging cities.

Emerging cities are small urban centers, with less than one million people and are often located close to rural populations. The small urban centers are important to ensure balanced economic growth in a country, as they act as an important market for agricultural goods and facilitate the transition from agricultural to non-agricultural work. Their proximity to rural areas also facilitates the transition from a rural to a more urban existence. However, they are often overlooked by policymakers and researchers. Emerging cities can help bring development to the people, but only if scholars and policymakers understand how they work. Governments need to deconcentrate resources from capitals and megacities by investing in infrastructure and building state capacity elsewhere.

The “Political Change and Local Governance in Emerging Cities” project is conducted by the Governance and Local Development Institute (GLD), at the University of Gothenburg, and will develop theoretical insights into governance and development in areas of rapid urban growth. It will do so by implementing a GLD-based methodological tool called the Local Governance Process Indicators (LGPI), holding focus group interviews, and conducting experimental interventions. Finally, findings will be disseminated to scholars, policymakers, and practitioners. The research findings will serve as an incubator for urban policy reforms worldwide. 


Jeffrey Paller (PI), Researcher at the Governance and Local Development Institute at the University of Gothenburg, and an Associate Professor of Politics at University of San Francisco.

Intissar Kherigi, Assistant Professor of Political Science and Law at Southern Mediterranean University. 

Ellen Lust, Founding Director of the Governance and Local Development Institute at Yale University (est. 2013), and then at the University of Gothenburg (est. 2015), and a Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Gothenburg.

George Bob-Milliar, Associate Professor in the Department of History and Political Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.

Alison Post, Travers Family Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Chair of Political Science and Associate Professor of Global Metropolitan Studies, at UC-Berkeley.