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Managing urbanisation at the local level

Conference contribution
Authors Sara Brorström
Parment Anders
Published in 20th International Research Society on Public Management Conference 2016 13th-15th April, Hong Kong.
Publication year 2016
Published at Gothenburg Research Institute (GRI)
Language en
Subject categories Business Administration


Urbanisation causes a strong divide between urban areas and larger cities, which grow fast, and rural areas that experience a shrinking population. In year 2050 75 per cent of all people are believed to live in urban areas, in 2009 it was 50 per cent. Whether a local government faces growth or a shrinking population is obviously a challenge for everyday management practices. Hence, it affects local government strategies, plans, resources, and place image. In this paper, we use qualitative data from local governments of various-sized areas in Sweden. Our data cover municipalities that have grown as well as those dealing with a shrinking population. We hence explore how municipalities act to meet the challenges that come with urbanisation. Drawing upon literature on public sector strategic management and innovations, respectively, we attempt to identify new solutions and innovations, initiated within the municipality organisation or in co-operation with the local society. Our empirical data reveal that in order to deal with the upcoming challenges, local government needs to be managed wider and in longer perspectives. Hence, urbanisation is not an issue for one department, or for one local government, but rather a challenge that must be dealt with over traditional boundaries, beyond traditional organisational structures. At the same time, a focus on the long-term, urbanisation and climate change among other topical issues provide an additional set of challenges to the core public services provided by local governments. These issues will affect the world in which the municipalities act for a long time, hence, there is a need for vertical and horizontal collaboration in longer perspectives. This in turn implies that the politics in local governments might have to change over time, since there is a need of agreeing over time and space in new ways.

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