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Eco-Districts and Sustainable Cities - Institutionalization Through Experimentation

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Paper presented at the Academy of Management Conference, San Antonion USA, August 12-16 2011 ; Judging from the number of communities and cities striving or claiming to be sustainable and how often eco-development is invoked as the means for urban regeneration, it appears that sustainable and eco-development have become “the leading paradigm within urban development” (Whitehead 2003). But what is it that is driving these urban transformations? Clearly, there are many probable answers to this complex question and in what follows we will focus on one particular catalyst of change – urban design competitions. Considered as field changing events (Lampel & Meyer 2008, Anand and Jones 2008), urban design competitions are understudied mechanisms for bringing about field level changes. This paper examines how urban design competitions can bring about changes within two types of fields – professional fields and local geographical fields. The context for our study is urban regeneration in two cities in France and Denmark, both of which have been suffering from industrial decline and have invested in establishing “eco-districts”. Based on these two case studies we explore how the different parties involved in these urban development projects have developed innovative design templates and practices that can instantiate field level changes.

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Susse Georg, Gabriela Garza de Linde, Rebecca Pinheiro-Croisel, Franck Aggeri

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