City-wide Scale-up of Smart City Pilot Projects: Governance Conditions

Lasse Bundgaard*, Susana Borrás*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This article's research objective is to study the combinations of governance conditions under which smart city pilot projects scale-up to an entire city. This is highly relevant for delivering city-wide urban solutions to grand challenges. The combinations of conditions (factors) for scale-up remain understudied. This paper contextualizes its research within the theoretical literature of smart cities, innovation, knowledge management, and governance and compares 17 smart city pilot projects in North America, Europe, and Asia. The cases were selected according to the research objective and analyzed using fuzzy set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA). The findings show two paths of city-wide scale-up, which we term “bureaucratic tailoring” and “low-uncertainty partnering.” This article makes three important theoretical contributions. First, it is possible for smart city pilot projects to scale-up to an entire city through different paths. Second, differentiating the role and capabilities of the municipality in terms of these different paths and in relation to the other governance conditions is essential. Third, the social perception of technological uncertainty is not static but fluid, and is highly related to other governance conditions. Future-oriented policy makers might find the paths explained here useful for anticipating how projects might scale-up.
Original languageEnglish
Article number121014
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • Smart city
  • Governance
  • Grand challenges
  • Innovation diffusion
  • Transformative innovation
  • Mission innovation

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