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

Andreas Exner, Livia Cepoiu, Carla Weinzierl, Viviana Asara

Publikation: Working/Discussion PaperWU Working Paper

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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.
HerausgeberWU Vienna University of Economics and Business
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 2018


NameSRE - Discussion Papers

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