Methodology problems in urban governance studies
Increasing attention has been paid to forms of urban governance, or how public and private sector actors cooperate in generating new policies. In fact, almost everywhere where urban governance structures have been looked for, they have been found. This apparent ubiquity of governance networks has ushered in a new era for urban studies, but it raises the issue of whether such structures vary and whether the differences can be measured and used in explaining other dimensions of city difference. The author argues that the ubiquity problem does not reflect a fatal deficit in urban governance concepts but is, rather, a correctable problem of methods. Urban governance research would benefit greatly from the more widespread use of existing descriptive methods and techniques which produce results that are easy to compare across cities, and thus expand the basis for inductive theory building. As the high cost of such methods discourages comparative research designs with multiple cases, a similar but more cost-effective research method -- which has advantages and disadvantages -- is discussed. The kinds of simple structural features of governance networks it reveals represent a new potential dimension of explanation in urban research.
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