Navigating networks–to make a difference: the support base composition of local change agents in Amsterdam, Birmingham, Glasgow and Copenhagen

Mark van Ostaijen*, Annika Agger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

As the attention for collaborative governance is on the rise emphasizing bottom-up approaches in urban planning and regeneration, there is an increasing interest in local people able to enact ‘place-based’ leadership and change. While several studies have characterized these individuals, other parts of the scholarly literature show that they seldom work alone but often in collaboration with others. Whereas various urban scholars have highlighted formal relations as important in the support bases of local change agents, few have studied the informal site of these support bases. In this article, we study the networks that function as support bases of 40 local change agents in neighbourhoods across Amsterdam, Birmingham, Copenhagen and Glasgow. More specifically, we describe with whom these change agents collaborate. By applying a theoretical framework that distinguish actors according to dimensions of sectors (public, private) and proximity (local, regional, national) we assess the diversity (heterogeneity) and the similarity (homogeneity) of their support bases. Our findings demonstrate that most local change agents rely on informal trust-based relationships and homogenous support bases. As such, this research empirically unfolds the strengths and vulnerabilities of local change agents’ support bases, which contains key insights to improve current neighbourhood work in our cities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1203-1225
Number of pages23
JournalEuropean Planning Studies
Volume31
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Research programs

  • ESSB PA

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