Shrink Smart - The Governance of Shrinkage


Research design

The SHRINK SMART Project builds on a number of overarching questions and working hypotheses that serve as guiding principles for the whole research.

1. Overarching questions

a) What different trajectories of urban shrinkage occur in different urban contexts? Do they differ due to different national and local (institutional, political, economic …) contexts?

b) Does urban shrinkage lead to/privilege particular local governance arrangements/modes of urban governance?

c) What impacts do local governance arrangements/modes of urban governance have with respect to the abilities for coping with urban shrinkage in different/particular urban contexts?

2. Working hypotheses

Working hypothesis to question a)
Urban shrinkage differs in its appearance due to its driving causes (demography, economy, suburbanisation etc.) and the forms of urbanization it impacts on. Urban shrinkage is thus not a uniform process but a location-specific combination of different macro-trends that impact on locally specific configurations. It is thus heterogeneous and uneven, appears in different forms and leads to different outcomes. Instead of being a one-directional trend, urban shrinkage can take different paths.

Working hypothesis to question b)
Shrinking cities are characterised by a lack of capacities (financial, institutional etc.) and, at the same time, are burdened by a number of serious problems. This leads to an increasing dependence on external resources which can either stem from the market or from governmental sources. This leads to an orientation towards these resources and results in dependent, contradictory and instable governance arrangements in which local decisions are highly dependent on shifts in external frameworks (i.e. the cities are highly vulnerable due to changing circumstances.

Working hypothesis to question c)
Under the condition of urban shrinkage local governance arrangements/modes of urban governance are oriented towards two contradictory ‘poles’: the ‘entrepreneurial city’ and ‘logics of bureaucracy’. This leads to a rather inconsistent urban policy that can hardly cope with or may even reinforce the problems caused by urban shrinkage. As a result, coherent approaches that enable the cities to deal with the challenges of urban shrinkage strategically are made particularly difficult and are, in reality, hard to achieve.


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Shrink Smart Documents

Photo gallery

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Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities