Public Participation in Sustainable Urban Development Strategies - A Tool for Improving Strategy Making or a Symbolic Means of Establishing Legitimacy?
Abstract: This thesis aims to analyse the relationships between key stakeholders in the process of developing and implementing an urban strategy using the example of the Sustainable Urban Development Strategy of the City of Saint Petersburg. This thesis is based on theories related to involving public participation in the planning and implementation of the city strategy and the options and perspectives of participation strategies for involving stakeholders. The theoretical ladder model of Arnstein is used as a tool to assess the degree of public participation. A qualitative single-case study with an abductive research approach has been conducted to fulfill the purpose of this thesis. The study contributes to the literature on international strategic management by deepening the understanding of the relationships between key urban development actors in a sustainable urban development strategy. Given the influence of contextual factors, the findings and conclusions can also be useful for application in similar situations in other countries. The study reveals problems in the form of a lack of a comprehensive strategic approach in the city strategy that includes sustainable development and building social capital. The weak position of the public in negotiations with the authorities leads to a lack of influence on the decisions, implementation and results of the strategy, which affects its outcome. The study highlights the importance of public participation in the planning and implementation of a sustainable urban development strategy and recommends that policymakers and urban decision-makers commit to involving different stakeholders in the design of sustainable urban solutions and, through participatory design processes, organise more effective influence on the strategy by local communities to achieve better results.
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