Stakeholder Participation in New Governance: Lessons from Chicago's Public Housing Reform Experiment

70 Pages Posted: 8 Jul 2009

Date Written: July 7, 2009


The efficacy of the public-private partnership as a tool for social reform is the subject of continued scholarly and public debate. New governance theory, an increasingly popular form of jurisprudence, constructs an optimistic vision of stakeholder collaboration in public - private partnerships that justifies the use of the public-private partnership in regulatory reform. New governance scholars contend that recent governance trends such as devolution, deregulation, decentralization, and privatization create opportunities for previously marginalized stakeholders to more fully participate in public problem-solving. New governance scholars expect that both public and private stakeholders, with differing interests, skills and objectives, will effectively collaborate to solve public problems in the absence of traditional formal legal protections. New governance’s implicit promise is that traditionally marginalized stakeholders, such as poor public housing residents, will be empowered as a result of their participation in social reform. This Article examines stakeholder participation in Chicago’s landmark ten year HOPE VI public housing reform experiment as a test of these claims. Chicago’s reform process is a national example as other cities replicate Chicago’s model. Specifically, this Article examines the effect of social fissures along race, class and gender lines on the participation of public housing residents in Chicago’s urban reform plan. This micro-study of Chicago’s process reveals that empowered stakeholder participation is difficult to achieve under conditions of social conflict in the absence of traditional rights-based protections. This Article proposes a balance between 'hard-law' and 'soft-law' measures to provide a public law framework for future national HOPE VI reform. These recommendations may guide future new governance reform efforts that include traditionally marginalized stakeholders in public - private collaborations.

Keywords: New Governance, Stakeholder Theory, Public-Private Partnerships, Privatization, Public Housing Reform, Hope VI, Race, Class and Gender Stratification, Urban Redevelopment

JEL Classification: K11, K30, K23, I38, D63, J7, L33, R5

Suggested Citation

Alexander, Lisa T., Stakeholder Participation in New Governance: Lessons from Chicago's Public Housing Reform Experiment (July 7, 2009). Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law Policy, Vol. XVI, No. 1, 2009, University of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1083, Available at SSRN:

Lisa T. Alexander (Contact Author)

Boston College Law School ( email )

885 Centre Street
Newton, MA 02459-1163
United States

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