Towards the right model of smart city governance in India

Sarbeswar Praharaj, Jung Hoon Han, Scott Hawken

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


There is broad agreement among the scientific community that local government's play a vital role in fostering smart cities which focusses on improving quality of life by integrating technology with the built environment. But, urban governance in rapidly urbanising countries of global south is often poorly organised to deal with complex urban challenges, severely hindering their aspirations to become smart cities. Although smart city dossiers are abundant in literature, their governance framework and structural variations in such development across regions is lacking. Furthermore, efforts to import governance models from developed world cities are facing lack of unique context sensitivities, which stand against their transformation as smart cities. This paper contributes to the debate on urban governance of smart cities by providing their distinct theoretical conceptualisations and linking them with case studies. It analyses the urban governance dynamics in Indian cities which has started implementing a massive 100 smart cities development programme. From the past experiences of Indian cities in reforming urban administration to its new model of special purpose vehicle led project execution; this research critically assesses the ability of Indian cities to transform their traditional bureaucratic governments into a more accountable collaborative governance. The outcomes from this study highlight the need for aspiring smart cities in emerging economies to address deep-seated structural issues of municipal government's and engage in the process of governance transformation rather than adopting temporary solutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-186
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Sustainable Development and Planning
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Smart cities mission in India
  • Smart city
  • Smart governance
  • Urban governance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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