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Under far-reaching reforms, many cities have delegated core tasks previously delivered by their administrations to independent organizations that they formally own, e.g. municipal companies, or supervise, e.g. municipal trust funds. The coordination of these (as we call them) ‘domestic’ city organizations has proven challenging. Extant literature argues that such coordination is achieved through a mix of various hierarchical, market and network mechanisms. Yet it is unclear how these modes are combined. Addressing this gap, we ask: How do governance modes interact in the hybrid coordination of domestic city organizations? Analysing the case of Vienna, where 100 domestic organizations employ about 60,000 people, we find that while cultural mechanisms, rooted in the network mode, are predominant, they unfold in the shadow of latent structural mechanisms, which are associated with hierarchy and market. In the background, structural mechanisms keep cultural coordination effective, while cultural mechanisms allow structural coordination to remain (generally) hidden. This study aims to contribute to the literature on the governance of public organizations by exploring the relationship between governance modes as well as furthering urban governance studies by applying insights from studies on the coordination of public organizations to the city context.
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