Collaborative Decisions in a Fractured Metropolis: Institutional and Process Innovations for the Management of Conflict Resulting from Demographic Shifts and Spatial Transformations in U.S. Cities
30 Pages Posted: 4 Mar 2008
Date Written: 2007
The 20th Century was America's urban century. The 21st will be the century of the metropolis. Like the first urban revolution, driven by the political, economic and cultural consequences of the Industrial Revolution, this second one is emerging from the dysfunction of cities stressed by demographic shifts, a restructured economy and new technologies that shape urban form. Uni-centered cities have become multi-centered metropolises, but the political governance system has not yet adapted.
This paper examines this new pattern of urbanization: its causes, the barriers to managing its emerging conflicts and problems, and new institutions and processes being developed by American cities to better manage these conflicts. The paper explores these patterns by examining three cities, each representing a different configuration of demographic realignment and hence different patterns of growth and conflict. The cities - Atlanta, Cleveland and San Francisco - illustrate the tensions facing American cities and the barriers to resolving these tensions. The paper then examines new forms of governance and public decision making that are evolving to help resolve these difficulties. While traditional governance systems codify particular systems of decision making, built on the twin principles of hierarchical authority disciplined by a system of checks and balances, current innovations are exploring more network-based decision systems, with an emphasis on mediative institutions and collaborative processes. Finally, the paper ponders the potential impact of these emerging systems and possible future directions for the management of metropolitan decision making.
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