Leadership and Governance

Some forward-thinking city governments observe that diversity itself is a spur for quality of life, innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship. It creates a rich milieu that spawns attractive cultural choices for visitors, immigrants, and domestic populations alike. National governments control immigration rules, regulate labour markets, and supervise other key macro level policies and other policy competences are spread amongst a wide range of governmental bodies and tiers, but when it comes to achieving greater internationalisation and openness in cities, only local government leaders can articulate and co-ordinate an effective agenda.

We identify ‘city leadership’ as including elected city leaders, senior staff officials, and the civic leadership of business, institutions, and non-governmental organisations within the city. City leadership is not just about managing a given set of direct responsibilities, it is also about agenda setting, co-ordinating, and influencing the actions of others. City leaders are not just responsible for the management of the city and how it performs today, but also for the future of the city.

When compared to issues such as Internationalisation and Inclusion (the themes of two other papers in this series), Leadership and Governance can be somewhat intangible elements. Our review of city cases from around the world suggests that different strands of ‘leadership and governance’ might usefully be addressed in order to make some more systematic comments about the role of city leadership in open cities. For further research download Leadership and Governance of OPENCities.

Investigate your city leadership profile, compare your city with other cities and decide which are your strengths and weaknesses. Then have a look at the case studies and download policy recommendations for successful leadership and decide what actions are most relevant to your city.


OPENCities is a BAK project in partnership with cities around the world.