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Unformatted text preview: Urban Regimes 17 Clarence N. Stone, Urban Regimes: A Research Perspective, from Regime Politics: Governing Atlanta, 19641988. Ed. Dennis R. Judd and Paul Kantor , pp. 312. Copyright 1989 by the University Press of Kansas. Permission to reprint granted by the publisher. Urban Regimes A Research Perspective Clarence N. Stone W hat makes governance in Atlanta e ff ective is not the formal machinery of government, but rather, the informal partnership between city hall and the downtown business elite. is informal partnership and the way it operates constitute the citys regime; it is the means through which major policy decisions are made. e word regime connotes di ff erent things to di ff erent people, but in this [selec- tion] regime is specifi cally about the informal arrangements that surround and comple- ment the formal workings of governmental authority. All governmental authority in the United States is greatly limitedlimited by the Constitution, limited perhaps even more by the nations political tradition, and limited structurally by the autonomy of privately owned business enterprise. e exercise of public authority is thus never a simple matter; it is almost always enhanced by extraformal considerations. Because lo- cal governmental authority is by law and tradition even more limited than authority at the state and national level, informal arrangements assume special importance in urban politics. But we should begin our understanding of regimes by realizing that informal arrangements are by no means peculiar to cities or, for that matter, to government. Even narrowly bounded organizations, those with highly specifi c functional respon- sibilities, develop informal governing coalitions. 1 As Chester Barnard argued many years ago, formal goals and formal lines of authority are insu ffi cient by themselves to bring about coordinated action with su ffi cient energy to accomplish organizational purposes; 2 commitment and cooperation do not just spring up from the lines of an organization chart. Because every formal organization gives rise to an informal one, Barnard concluded, successful executives must master the skill of shaping and using informal organization for their purposes. Attention to informal arrangements takes various forms. In the analysis of business fi rms, the school of thought labeled transaction cost economics has given systematic attention to how things actually get done in a world full of social frictionbasically the same question that Chester Barnard considered. A leading proponent of this approach, Oliver Williamson, 3 fi nds that what he terms private orderings (as opposed to formal and legal agreements) are enormously important in the running of business a ff airs....
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