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Development networks and urban growth in small cities

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Georgiana Varna

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This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Sage Publications, 2020.

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Abstract

Real estate development is an intensely social process dependent on rich networks of relations between public- and private-sector actors. Previous work has explored how far such relations are formalised in large cities through shared coalitions of interest intended to promote urban growth. Relatively little attention has been given to networks in smaller cities, which is the concern of this paper. Drawing on detailed research in a small Scottish city, the paper explores how its local network was characterised by strong reliance on network construction and reproduction through trust and reputation. Significantly, within such local networks, competition and collaboration can exist side by side, without subsuming normal tensions into consistent agendas or formally-defined ‘partnerships’. Controlling land for urban expansion provides a particular focus for these tensions since it can allow certain interests to gain network dominance. These findings raise important concerns around whether small cities should rely on informal networks to promote growth instead of constructing formal coalitions that may attract more externally-based actors. Such choices have profound implications for the capacity and transparency of development networks, and thus for the accountability of the urban development processReal estate development is an intensely social process dependent on rich networks of relations between public- and private-sector actors. Previous work has explored how far such relations are formalised in large cities through shared coalitions of interest intended to promote urban growth. Relatively little attention has been given to networks in smaller cities, which is the concern of this paper. Drawing on detailed research in a small Scottish city, the paper explores how its local network was characterised by strong reliance on network construction and reproduction through trust and reputation. Significantly, within such local networks, competition and collaboration can exist side by side, without subsuming normal tensions into consistent agendas or formally-defined ‘partnerships’. Controlling land for urban expansion provides a particular focus for these tensions since it can allow certain interests to gain network dominance. These findings raise important concerns around whether small cities should rely on informal networks to promote growth instead of constructing formal coalitions that may attract more externally-based actors. Such choices have profound implications for the capacity and transparency of development networks, and thus for the accountability of the urban development process estate development is an intensely social process dependent on rich networks of relations between public- and private-sector actors. Previous work has explored how far such relations are formalised in large cities through shared coalitions of interest intended to promote urban growth. Relatively little attention has been given to networks in smaller cities, which is the concern of this paper. Drawing on detailed research in a small Scottish city, the paper explores how its local network was characterised by strong reliance on network construction and reproduction through trust and reputation. Significantly, within such local networks, competition and collaboration can exist side by side, without subsuming normal tensions into consistent agendas or formally-defined ‘partnerships’. Controlling land for urban expansion provides a particular focus for these tensions since it can allow certain interests to gain network dominance. These findings raise important concerns around whether small cities should rely on informal networks to promote growth instead of constructing formal coalitions that may attract more externally-based actors. Such choices have profound implications for the capacity and transparency of development networks, and thus for the accountability of the urban development process


Publication metadata

Author(s): Varna G, Adams D, Docherty I

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: European Urban and Regional Studies

Year: 2020

Volume: 27

Issue: 1

Pages: 70-85

Print publication date: 01/01/2020

Online publication date: 09/11/2018

Acceptance date: 23/08/2018

Date deposited: 24/08/2018

ISSN (print): 0969-7764

ISSN (electronic): 1461-7145

Publisher: Sage Publications

URL: https://doi.org/10.1177/0969776418802919

DOI: 10.1177/0969776418802919


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