Consultants, Urban Leadership, and the Replica City
Bassett, Samuel T.
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This dissertation examines the role of external experts in local agenda setting. The study conducts on archival research on three components of Oklahoma City’s Metropolitan Area Projects programs, specifically education, indoor arenas, and convention centers. The decline in local leadership (especially regimes), an increased demand for complex amenities, and the emergence of a trans-urban policy network provide outside actors with agenda setting power. Evidence suggests that agenda setting for urban revitalization has shifted from “inside-out” to an “outside-in” model since the 1980s. Formerly urban leaders would request assistance for specific tactics aimed at urban revitalization; contemporary urban leaders articulate larger objectives to consultants but rely on advice to determine specific programs. A constellation of advocacy coalitions fill niches within the city building policy network, but no central actor organizes their activity. Although urban leaders may rely on outside actors for agenda items, local leaders retain the ability to determine the physical distribution and interaction of infrastructure, which impacts the efficacy of urban revitalization projects.