Transparency and collaborative governance have lain at the heart of many policy changes in recent years based on their perceived intrinsic merits, forming the foundation of the New Public Governance paradigm. These ideas also form the foundation for prominent programmes of open government at all levels, as well as smart city programmes for cities of varying size. These programmes in themselves have quickly entered the political mainstream and spread worldwide with promises of myriad improvements to society. Much thought has been devoted to developing these concepts theoretically, generating for each of them an ideal type as well as particular mechanisms through which they may be implemented, including open data. But there have been few observations of these principles together in practice to determine if they are capable of fulfilling their ideal type or whether they are indeed compatible with each other. This thesis performs a case study of these programmes, examining how a transparency measure such as open data may influence collaborative governance in a smart city by contributing to the empowerment of citizens. We analysed qualitative data gathered as in-depth active interviews from respondents in the city of Bristol in the United Kingdom who had some connection to working with open data. We find that open data does function as a form of transparency, but by itself affects only token forms of participation. Its opportunities to influence empowered participation or collaborative governance are few, as programmes of open government and the smart city are largely missing their collaborative element. This is largely due to greater circumstances such as a political climate of austerity. As such, these programmes fall short of the benefits that have been ascribed in theory. Despite this structural inhibition, much enthusiasm remains for open data and its possibilities, and collaboration on the basis of open data seems very possible. While the theoretical structures of open government and smart cities are not achieved, a different structure is emerging, in which intermediary organizations serve to empower others and also fulfil the role of fostering collaboration. Their capacity for empowerment is more particularly true on broader (national) scales, while fostering collaboration is particularly effective at the community level. Our results support previous research on open data intermediaries, but moreover support the potential of the programs of open government and smart cities, whose shortcomings intermediaries are currently compensating for. There remains a strong argument for a more complete commitment to the ideal types of open government and smart cities, for their social and economic benefits could effectively offset their costs, providing a greater efficiency of governance that austerity has failed to do.

Additional Metadata
Thesis Advisor Dr. R.F.I. Moody, J. Eshuis
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Series Public Administration
Lister, Edward. (2019, February 19). The Influence of Open Data on Collaborative Governance in Smart Cities. Public Administration. Retrieved from