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Beyond resilience: The role of leadership in progressive planning

Hambleton, Robin


Resilience has become an influential concept in planning theory and, to some extent, in planning practice. This paper, by drawing on research on the role of place-based leadership in promoting progressive planning and urban innovation in cities in fourteen countries, will suggest that resilience is a concept with serious limitations. On the plus side, the concept has proved itself to be valuable in enhancing understanding of the ability of an ecological system to absorb disturbances and recover from shocks and stresses. But the meaning of the word is now being stretched and applied in an inappropriate way to socio-political systems. The growing misuse of the term is eroding its usefulness in relation to pressing public policy debates. The evidence suggests that, as with the term sustainable development, powerful interests appear to be using the word resilience to promote a depoliticised, or managerial, view of city politics and planning. In much of the recent literature on resilience fundamental social conflicts are downplayed, power structures are neglected, and major challenges facing cities, particularly growing inequality in societies, are overlooked. Research for a new book, Leading the Inclusive City, suggests that paying attention to leadership, and particularly various forms of place-based leadership, can provide helpful insights on how to tackle social and environmental ills. The paper suggests that it may be possible to strengthen resilience theory and practice, certainly as it relates to urban and regional governance, by injecting ideas drawn from the study of place-based leadership.


Hambleton, R. (2015, July). Beyond resilience: The role of leadership in progressive planning. Paper presented at Association of European Schools of Planning, Prague, Czech Republic

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name Association of European Schools of Planning
Conference Location Prague, Czech Republic
Start Date Jul 13, 2015
End Date Jul 16, 2015
Publication Date Jul 15, 2015
Deposit Date Jul 27, 2015
Publicly Available Date Feb 16, 2016
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords resilience, urban governance, city leadership, progressive planning
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Title of Conference or Conference Proceedings : Association of European Schools of Planning (AESOP)


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