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Social structures of urban governance: strategic spatial planning in Addis Ababa

da Cruz, Nuno F. ORCID: 0000-0003-3381-6359 and Rode, Philipp (2024) Social structures of urban governance: strategic spatial planning in Addis Ababa. Territory, Politics, Governance. ISSN 2162-2671

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Identification Number: 10.1080/21622671.2024.2317939


Focusing on strategic planning for spatial development, this paper explores the social structures that underpin urban governance in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. To bridge the divide in the literature between studies that are narrowly focused on public service networks (typically more quantitative) and broader studies of urban governance (typically more qualitative), we use a social network analysis approach based on structured interviews to chart the actors and connections that influence the strategic planning process. Our results show that the governance network in this city is very homogeneous and centralised. The majority of actors at the core of strategic decision-making are city government entities, where most ties are structured around the Addis Ababa City Plan Commission and the mayor. With few exceptions (notably, the prime minister), other tiers of government, civil society organisations, the private sector and international donors are mostly peripheral. The fact that some powerful actors – such as international investors and the ruling coalition parties – are also playing a marginal role in the network may threaten governance stability and coherence. Although the mayor is a very powerful actor at the city level, the structural features of the governance network and the institutional power of the prime minister allow them to streamline their influence over the city’s future. The current governance regime for strategic spatial planning in Addis Ababa seems to privilege the effectiveness of the developmental agenda over the inclusiveness of the governing process. This has troubling implications for participatory development and the emergence of a more democratic society.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2024 The Author(s)
Divisions: LSE Cities
School of Public Policy
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Subjects: J Political Science > JS Local government Municipal government
J Political Science > JQ Political institutions Asia
Date Deposited: 09 Feb 2024 10:39
Last Modified: 15 May 2024 18:15

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