In recent years a growing number of countries have embarked on reforms designed to strengthen the arrangements that they have in place for city region, or metropolitan, governance. This paper, which draws on a recent research project carried out for the UK Local Government Association (LGA), is divided into five parts. First, it discusses the main reasons why national governments are seeking to reform city region governance. Second, the main reform options currently being considered in different countries are considered. These range from merger of relatively small units of local government into larger units, through various forms of ‘pragmatic’ collaboration (including the introduction of a metropolitan tier of governance), through to models that reject the very idea of metropolitan reform and advocate, in line with public choice theory, the promotion of self-interested competition between small municipalities. Third, the paper considers the criteria that might be used to appraise different models of city region governance. A fourth section provides cameos of four respected models of metropolitan governance: 1) Auckland Council, New Zealand, 2) Greater London Authority, UK, 3) Portland Metro, Oregon, USA, and 4) Stuttgart City Region, Germany. These examples, which are chosen to illustrate different reform strategies, are evaluated in the light of the six criteria set out in section three. A fifth, and final, section explores the key themes that emerge from the analysis.
Hambleton, R. (2017, June). The rise of the city region - exploring alternative models of sub-national governance. Paper presented at European Urban Research Association