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Leadership and Governance in a City-Regional Context: A Case Study of Doncaster

Hoole, Charlotte (2018) Leadership and Governance in a City-Regional Context: A Case Study of Doncaster. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

Since 2010, sub-national government in England has undergone a major restructure in view of a central government agenda to devolve more powers and fiscal responsibilities to city-regions, in the context of austerity. This has led to an increasingly complex governance and policy landscape for local leaders to navigate, who under these conditions are recognised for playing a significant role in responding to changes and acting strategically to ensure that local and regional development objectives are realised. In response, this thesis investigates the structures, processes and practices that underlie this new governance and policy context. It looks at this through the lens of a mid-sized city, bringing an alternative perspective to debates about urban and economic growth policy that have for a long time been dominated by big city-centrism and agglomeration economics. Drawing on 36 in-depth interviews with local leaders in Doncaster in the Sheffield City Region, rich insights are offered into the ways that sub-national institutions and leaders are coming together to implement city-regional governance on the ground. Drawing on the themes of power, negotiation and acceptability, the research reveals how city-regional devolution has created new institutional and spatial complexities, and has failed to rework central-local relations away from a highly centralised approach. The research also finds, however, that local leaders play a significant role in their ability to navigate the broader structures and controls for constructing an operating environment that they can work with. This is suggested to be particularly the case for mid-sized cities that have neither the political might nor collective weight of the ‘big cities’ under the current urban system. This research adds knowledge to theories on leadership and governance, providing a greater level of depth for understanding the structures and processes that underlie city-regional governance and leadership than mostly broader narratives. It also provides original insights on the role of agency within this context that has seldom been examined in local and regional development research. Furthermore, by recognising that places on the periphery are a worthy object of research within urban studies, it sheds new light on the mid-sized city experience of city-regionalism as well as the relational dynamics between a mid-sized city and a core city within a city-region. This research will not only complement future academic study in this field, but it also has practical relevance for policymakers and place leaders for navigating, making arrangements, and suggesting ways forward for future policy on city-regional devolution.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Urban Studies and Planning (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.739877
Depositing User: Dr Charlotte Hoole
Date Deposited: 05 Apr 2018 14:52
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2019 10:20
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/19852

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