IMFG Paper | 2020

Collaborative Regional Governance: Lessons from Greater Manchester

Around the world, urban areas are grappling with policy challenges like climate change, the spread of infectious disease, housing crises, and over-dependence on car use – all of which require coordinated responses across municipalities. In this context, Greater Manchester’s recent history offers potential lessons for city-regions looking to build more inclusive and collaborative forms of governance.

In a new paper for the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance (IMFG), Alan Harding, Chief Economic Adviser to the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, describes the development of Greater Manchester’s primarily “bottom-up” form of regional governance.
Harding offers four key lessons that can be taken from the Greater Manchester experiment:

  1. Geography matters, but only up to a point: The Greater Manchester area has proven durable because significant effort was put into making it relevant to a range of interests.
  2. Narrative matters: Uniting the broad set of stakeholders supporting the development of Greater Manchester was the belief that they are all in this together, that they can achieve common benefit from a common set of purposes, and that they gain strength from acting together.
  3. Change is driven by coalitions of the willing, not by grand designs: Many of the small steps taken towards the self-organization of Greater Manchester were made by a subset of interests, not as a result of wide-ranging consensus.
  4. Leadership matters: Coalitions of the willing have to be galvanized into existence and persuaded to take risks if they are to realize mutual gains.

Read the full report

Read the one-page summary

Perspectives on Regional Governance: Global, National, Local
This is the first paper in the IMFG series, “Perspectives on Regional Governance: Global, National, and Local.” The series examines how different jurisdictions in Canada and around the world have implemented regional governance models to help cities tackle longstanding challenges that cross municipal boundaries. It also looks at how regional governance could be implemented locally. Papers by global experts will analyze international and national case studies, and propose how city-regions such as the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area could engage in voluntary regional governance.

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