Why metropolitan governance matters and how to achieve functioning metropolitan governance structures

Abstract

When thinking about bustling metropolitan areas like Berlin, London, New York, Paris, or Tokyo, “governance” is unlikely to be the first issue that comes to mind. But metropolitan governance matters a great deal more than most of us might think. Put simply, a lack of effective metropolitan governance structures has large economic costs and strong negative effects on the quality of life in cities. In this chapter we explain why governance matters and quantify its impact. In doing so, we introduce the Organisation for Economic Co-operation (OECD) Metropolitan Governance Survey, which provides a representative overview of different governance approaches across 275 OECD metropolitan areas. We argue that most countries’ prospects for well-being and economic prosperity are in large part determined by their metro areas, implying that effective metropolitan governance has country-wide importance. Understanding what constitutes good governance arrangements for metropolitan areas is only the first step. It is equally important to know how to get there, i.e. how to initiate and carry through a successful reform process that is supported by all stakeholders. We identify key factors to overcome gridlock and implement reforms that are long-lasting and effective. Among them are leadership by the national government, buy-in by municipal governments, and support from the business sector and civil society.


Authors:

Rudiger Ahrend is Head of the Urban Programme in the OECD Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Local Development and Tourism. In this capacity, he has been supervising various studies on metropolitan governance, urban productivity, land use, housing, urban transport, and national urban policies. In addition, he has overseen numerous reports on major metropolitan agglomerations and is the main author of The Metropolitan Century: Understanding Urbanisation and its Consequences (2015). He has published widely in both academic journals and newspapers.

Soo‑Jin Kim is a Policy Analyst in the OECD Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Local Development and Tourism. She is the main author of the recent OECD publication Governing the City (2015) and has led a large series of OECD Territorial Reviews on metropolitan regions. She has also worked extensively on analysing governance arrangements that help promote quality of life and inclusive growth in cities, and she is a co-author of How’s Life in Your Region? Measuring Regional and Local Well-Being for Policy Making (2014) and Making Cities Work for All (2016).

Alexander C. Lembcke is an economist and policy analyst in the OECD Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Local Development and Tourism. His work considers the economic and social development in regions and urban areas. He is a co-author of the OECD publication The Metropolitan Century: Understanding Urbanisation and its Consequences (2015) and he has contributed to several OECD Territorial Reviews. He has co‑authored numerous OECD working papers and regularly publishes his work in peer‑reviewed journals.

Abel Schumann works as an economist in the OECD Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Local Development and Tourism. He is a co-author of the OECD publication The Metropolitan Century: Understanding Urbanisation and its Consequences (2015) and he has worked extensively on the determinants of regional growth. He is currently leading an OECD research program on land use governance that analyses the relation between planning systems, land use patterns, and economic outcomes.