Metropolitan Governance and Business Improvement Districts
Political Science and International Affairs
Because of their growing numbers and the increasingly significant roles they play in providing urban services and influencing public policymaking, Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) have become a challenge to the conventional conception of public administration. Their origins lie in the United States' foundational privatism and the corporate origins of American governments. Many urban services were provided privately until the Progressive movement turned them into what has come to be known as public services. But between the privatization movement that began in and has been accelerating since the late 1970s and the academic advent of public choice theory, BIDs have arisen as a new form of “private government.” As they expand their menus of services, often including land-use planning, and approaching more general-purpose government status, BIDs have begun to raise issues of accountability. This has become a problem for public administration theory, and there is a need to expand the notion of public administration to encompass these growing forms of governance. This article contends that the best way to capture the role of BIDs in the metropolitan governance process is network governance theory, which takes into account not only the many and various local governments but also the numerous nonprofit and for-profit organizations participating in this governance process.
International Journal of Public Administration
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