The Greater China Australia Dialogue on Public Administration will be holding its eighth annual Workshop at Shanghai Jiao Tong University on 27-29 September 2018. Previous workshops have explored such issues of shared interest as citizens-centred services, inter-governmental relations, public sector human resources management, budgeting and financial management, and institutional structures for accountability and performance. Most have led to the publication of papers in symposiums in prominent journals (such as the Australian Journal of Public Administration) or in books (ANU Press has just published Value for Money based on a selection of papers from the 2015 workshop).
The theme for the 2018 workshop is:
The workshop is being conducted this year in partnership with the Australian Journal of Social Issues with a view to publishing a selection of papers in a special symposium in the journal.
Across both Greater China (including Taiwan) and Australia, there is a growing recognition of the importance of cities for economic growth and productivity, and that the design and functioning of cities is critical to the well-being of their populations. The role of government is critical as residents and visitors share so much of both the benefits and costs of living in such close proximity: they rely heavily therefore on public goods and regulations.
In turn, precisely because so many people live in such proximity in cities, it is possible to achieve considerable economies of size and ensure the public goods and regulations achieve very significant benefits, facilitating a highly productive market economy in which all residents can share. On the other hand, poorly governed cities are associated with extreme levels of poverty and social exclusion, as well as widespread social and environmental costs.
The focus of the workshop is not on the technical aspects of planning and urban management, but on the governance challenges and practices. Within each jurisdiction’s unique institutional framework, and each one’s different economic and social context, what are the challenges of urbanisation and how does urban governance operate in practice? What roles do different levels of government play, and how do they interact with the market, civil society and the community? How do we measure the performance of cities and their governance?
With the workshop restricted to two days, papers will need to address the theme and sub-themes at a reasonably high level rather than explore detailed governance practices, though case studies are welcomed to illustrate underlying governance and performance issues. Papers need to do more than describe current practice, however, for example by including analysis of strengths and weaknesses and outstanding challenges.
Papers should address one or more of the following sub-themes.
1. Cities and urbanisation policy
How does government go about developing policy in this field? To what extent does government take a pro-active stance, setting clear targets for urbanisation and planning development and physical and social infrastructure accordingly, shaping the way markets operate, and to what extent does government respond to external forces such as general market forces, immigration, demographic change, housing preferences etc., to ensure adequate and appropriate infrastructure and services? What factors are influencing these policies, including institutional frameworks, economic development, transition from a command economy; and how are the policies evolving?
2. Inter-governmental relations
What are the respective roles of the national government and different levels of sub-national government? What is the impact of Australia’s federalism framework vs Mainland China’s and Taiwan’s unitary systems? Mainland China over recent decades seems more systematically to encourage experimentation and dissemination of successful approaches, including the establishment of municipal level governments, particularly for mega cities. Australia has mostly struggled to have authoritative city-wide governments, leaving the responsibility to state governments, and attempts at collaboration between levels of government (with the national government involvement shifting significantly with different governments). The movement of leaders between city, provincial and national government may also be a factor in China. In each jurisdiction, what is the emerging approach to ‘urban governance’ and what lessons can be drawn?
3. Infrastructure financing and management
How do governments budget for capital investment in cities? Who finances the investments and who bears what risks? Papers may present case studies with some of the lessons learned. The PRC seems to have had great success in the speed and scale of such investments: is this a result of its authoritarian approach, and are there significant downsides not readily apparent (e.g. poor investments, waste, excessive debt)? Australia has looked to public private partnerships to accelerate infrastructure investment, and also to privatisation (e.g. of airports and telecommunications), but with mixed success as many risks have remained with government and new forms of regulation have been required.
4. Community engagement
This sub-theme covers both city-wide engagement in planning etc., and engagement processes at the local level in more detailed urban planning (both physical and social), infrastructure investment and local service management. The processes used may be affected by the different political institutions involved, and may be evolving with political, social and technological developments. For example, are governments using social media or other technologies to engage more meaningfully, and how is this affected by institutional and civil society arrangements? Again, case studies may illustrate developments and identify emerging challenges.
5. Performance management
This sub-theme is closely linked to the first sub-theme. Papers might canvass ways governments do or could measure the success of cities including the quality of their governance. How do cities market themselves to attract private investment, skilled people or tourists? How are cities, and the governments that are responsible for them, held accountable to their own residents (and the wider population affected by cities) for their performance? Papers might also encompass performance management at more local levels within cities.
Abstract proposals should identify the relevant sub-theme being addressed. They should be no longer than 500 words, in English, and should be submitted by 22 June 2018 to one of the following:
· Professor Jiannan Wu (email@example.com)
· Professor Hon Chan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
· Professor Andrew Podger (email@example.com)
· Professor Meili Niu (TBA)
· Professor Tsai-tsu Su (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Selections of papers for the workshop, based on the abstract proposals, will be decided by 6 July 2018 and final draft papers (around 4,000-5,000 words) must be submitted by 31 August 2018.
Presentation of selected papers at the Workshop will be in English and limited to 15 minutes to ensure there is good opportunity for informed discussion. It is important that papers can be circulated to participants in advance.
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