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Smart city governance from an innovation management perspective: Theoretical framing, review of current practices, and future research agenda

Mora, Luca; Gerli, Paolo; Ardito, Lorenzo; Messeni Petruzzelli, Antonio


Lorenzo Ardito

Antonio Messeni Petruzzelli


Smart city transitions are a fast-proliferating example of urban innovation processes, and generating the insight required to support their unfolding should be a key priority for innovation scholars. However, after decades of research, governance mechanisms remain among the most undertheorized and relatively overlooked dimensions of smart city transitions. To address this problem, we conduct a systematic literature review that connects the fragmented knowledge accumulated through the observation of smart city transition dynamics in 6 continents, 43 countries, and 146 cities and regions. Our empirical work is instrumental in achieving a threefold objective. First, we assemble an overarching governance framework that expands the theoretical foundations of smart city transitions from an innovation management perspective. Second, we elaborate on this framework by providing a thorough overview of documented governance practices. This overview highlights the strengths and weaknesses in the current approaches to the governance of smart city transitions, leading to evidence-based strategic recommendations. Third, we identify and address critical knowledge gaps in a future research agenda. In linking innovation theory and urban scholarship, this agenda suggests leveraging promising cross-disciplinary connections to support more intense research efforts probing the interaction patterns between institutional contexts, urban digital innovation, and urban innovation ecosystems.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 2, 2023
Online Publication Date Feb 7, 2023
Publication Date 2023-05
Deposit Date Feb 21, 2023
Publicly Available Date Feb 21, 2023
Print ISSN 0166-4972
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 123
Article Number 102717
Keywords Urban innovation, Smart city transitions, Digital transformations, Sustainable urban development, Systematic literature review, Governance framework, Governance practices


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