Enacting Governance through Strategy: A Comparative Study of Governance Configurations in Sydney and Vienna

Christof Brandtner, Markus A. Höllerer, Renate E. Meyer, Martin Kornberger

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Over the past two decades, research has emphasised a shift from city government to urban governance. Such a shift brings about its very own challenges, namely governance gaps, uncertain configurations in governance and a limited capacity to act. In this paper, we argue that the concurrent rise of strategy documents in city administration addresses these challenges. Our central claim is that strategy documents can be understood as a distinct discursive device through which local governments enact aspired governance configurations. We illustrate our argument empirically using two prominent examples that, while showing similar features and characteristics, are anchored in different administrative traditions and institutional frameworks: the city administrations of Sydney, Australia, and Vienna, Austria. The contribution of the paper is to show how strategy documents enact governance configurations along four core dimensions: the setting in space and time, the definition of the public, the framing of the res publica and legitimacy issues. Moreover, our comparative analysis of Sydney and Vienna gives evidence of differences in governance configurations enacted through strategy documents.
Original languageEnglish
JournalUrban Studies
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)1075-1091
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017


  • Discourse
  • Governance configurations
  • Institutions
  • Strategy
  • Urban governance

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