Local Autonomy in Temporary Organizations: The Case of Smart City Pilots

Dalia Mukhtar-Landgren, Administration & Society, April 2021

Local actors are to an increasing extent engaging in national and European Union (EU)–based development and sustainability agendas. These ventures often materialize in the form of temporary organizations such as pilots and projects. This article contributes to debates on project-based, experimental and temporary organizations by unpacking the organizational architecture of pilots and analyzing how the democratic autonomy of local public actors is formed. Through the example of smart city pilots, the study shows how a range of intersecting relations and hierarchies enable and circumscribe public-sector autonomy—from local actors’ attempts to align pilots with political goals to the limitations of standardized and scalable knowledge and strict funding requirements.

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