Urban innovation through policy integration: Critical perspectives from 100 smart cities mission in India

Sarbeswar Praharaj, Jung Hoon Han, Scott Hawken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


Smart cities commentary often highlights the technological and entrepreneurial aspects of the city. But, the dimensions of local policy and politics is surprisingly little debated. Mega cities in the rapidly urbanising economies develop a plethora of urban policies and plans cultivated by various state and local agencies. These are often overlapping or conflicting and as a result do not produce desired outcomes. Prospective smart cities tend to add a new layer of plan and devise extra institutional instrument in to this already complex environment. We challenge this idea of smart cities being another stand-alone initiative and explore how integration of plans and unification of smart city visions with the overarching city development goals can better support effective urban transformation and local innovation. This research addresses the complex planning and governance mechanisms in the world's fastest growing economy – India - which has initiated an ambitious mission to transform 100 urban areas across the country into “smart cities”. The federal program involves the provision of centrally devised guidelines for smart city development. These combined with local level policy and institutional initiatives in designated smart cities in India shape a multiplicity of policies and programs. A two-level case study is presented in this paper as a critical polemic on this policy landscape. Investigation along these lines provide opportunities for identification of underlying patterns and challenges of smart city developments in India. The paper concludes with a series of recommendations for building sound smart city policy frameworks in emerging economies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-43
Number of pages9
JournalCity, Culture and Society
StatePublished - Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • 100 smart cities mission
  • Policy integration
  • Smart cities
  • Sustainable smart cities reference framework

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Urban Studies
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)


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