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The contemporary issues of urban management

Updated: Jun 29, 2019


The newly evolving concept of urban management is closely associated with the role of city government, and with a constant change in political and economic structures of the society (Irena, 2014). There is a mixture of the city being too decentralised over the issues of coherent planning and policy-making and is centralised in responding to the flexible relationship between the city administration and the citizens (Irena, 2014). The paradigm shifts throughout the world in terms of modes of production, associated with the regime of accumulation, an emphasis on the locality and the increasing complexity of the fragmented society are evolving as a greater challenge to urban management (Irena, 2014). The city administrator’s task of providing urban services has become complex due to different needs of a heterogeneous society where they must address issues of marginalised poor and at the same time create an attractive business environment for the investors (Irena, 2014).

To create such a conducive environment for business, cities face an overgrowing demand from citizens with welfare policies and job opportunities for the labour on one hand and developing a strong urban infrastructure for the investors on the other hand (Irena, 2011). The centrifugal force works independently, and the task of urban management is performed enabling city administrators to act accordingly. However, actual implementation, lack ability to develop, appropriate tools to address broader urban issues other than overcoming basic issues related to the densely polluted urban environment and overgrowing population (Irena, 2011). Thus, city administrators must have a chief concern of maintaining the balance between the shareholders (economic subjects, investors, and multinationals) and stakeholders (citizens, civil society and NGOs), along with the balance between socio-economic development and the entire process involves actors other than political and economic (Irena, 2011).

Centralised authority and local communities:

The city administrators i.e a local government in this contemporary world have conflicting interests and values with the state and the long-standing institutions and have moved towards a new socio-economic welfare and have rejected a centralised authority over local communities and have become more local than global (Haus,, 2004). However, the constitutional urban processes remain intact and have coexistence of, but the tension between hierarchy, market and network as the ideologies and practices of national governments in allocating and managing the resources (Haus,, 2004).This results in cities being a multiplicity of governmental and non-governmental organisations accountable to different central departments for deferent targets, each with different professional cultures and with different systems of accountability, different financial regimes and many with considerable operational autonomy and results in organisational complexity (Haus,, 2004). The number of actors involved in these organisations, their different viewpoints and policy formulation processes at local and neighbourhood level face policy delivery issues in both vertical and horizontal interaction making the local government a failed system (Haus,, 2004).


To understand the concept of urban management more deeply, it is important to know the basic structures in the society i.e. institutions. The institutional arrangements and actual behaviour of an individual within the institution can be explained with a conceptual framework (Haus,, 2004). This becomes a tool for analysing the institutional arrangements and practice of a complementary urban leadership and community involvement (Haus,, 2004). Thus, institutional rules become an important part of the conceptual framework. However, these set of institutional rules are both problematic and do not fulfil all aspects of the outcome (Haus,, 2004). Once this is understood then, the discourse focusses on the ways in which the institutional rules are to be compliant (Haus,, 2004). These rules must first be interpreted and then applied as per the different behaviour of the actors (Haus,, 2004). However, Position holders may or may not choose to follow the rules in their actual behaviour, something that is missing in institutional analysis and development (IAD) framework (Haus,, 2004).

Within the framework, both the rules, which guide authoritative interpretation of a concrete situation and conflicting interpretations of a deviant behaviour are not seen as a separate category and is often seen as a central function of leadership (Haus,, 2004). The central function of the leadership is to see that authoritative interpretation and its compliance does happen within the institution (Haus,,2004). Both these functions involve authoritative positions within the institution to secure the rule of compliance (Haus,, 2004). However, in the processes of dealing with the breaking of rules by the position holders, a deviant behaviour might result in the adaptation of new rules. This results in the institutional change which primarily is based on how the rules were set in the first place. There are mainly two ways in which the institutional changes take place one is formal and the other is informal. Informal ways the new rules are explicitly decided upon and in informal ways, actual behaviour gradually develops into a practice.


The newly evolved concept of urban management is challenging both in terms of its scope and practicality. In the recent times, there has been an increasing demand for the development of nations based on local structures than global. The administration and the governance at city, towns and village level have now become important and the institutions and the newly evolving institutional framework is based on local and community level interpretations. Although not a full proof solution but at least a way forward to reduce the scope and practical difficulties.


Irena, B (2014) A Reconceptualisation Of Urban Management [online]. Lewiston, New York: The Edwin Mellen Press [Accessed 5 February 2018].

Irena, B (2011) Urban Management in a European Context. [online]. Urbani Izziv, 22(2) pp. 137-146 [Accessed 7 February 2018].

Haus, M., Heinelt, H. and Stewart, M. eds. (2004) Urban Governance and Democracy: Leadership and Community Involvement [online]. Abingdon, Oxon: Taylor and Francis. [Accessed 8 February 2018].

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