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Policy design and capacity building for urban resilience
1  École nationale d'administration publique


We investigate policy design as a foundation for urban resilience implementation, on two aspects: 1) implications of the resilience paradigm for urban governance, and 2) mechanisms to strengthen urban administrative capacity to integrate resilience principles into urban governance.

Policy design is defined as an “activity conducted by a number of policy actors in the hope of improving policy making and policy outcomes through the accurate anticipation of the consequences of government actions and the articulation of specific courses of action to be followed”. For resilience policy, practitioners are struggling to translate and enact the meaning of resilience within the governance of urban networks. Lack of goal clarity is particularly present in transverse public issues such as resilience and crisis management, because they are complex, fragmented, and lack coordination mechanisms. As such, they require shared governance and a multiorganizational, transjuridictional, polycentric response network.

Changes introduced by the resilience paradigm in urban governance make it important to assess whether and how adopting resilience as a policy priority leads to any significant differences in how cities are organized and how urban governments conduct their policy-making activities. By comparing changes in key organizational and policy making parameters of cities it could possible to systematically assess the extent to which a resilience perspective actually presents a new mode of governance, or if it is largely a rhetorical commitment with few material impacts. On the one hand, resilience as a policy paradigm can be seen as a radical break with a traditional Weberian approach to governance. On the other hand, the resilience paradigm’s reference to ideal values such as “flexibility” and “responsiveness” of public administration might actually require little in terms of concrete changes to policies, procedures, and structures. Our paper will present the conceptual elements underlying these two aspects.

Keywords: Urban governance, policy capacity, shared governance, implementation