melbourne council houseCross-national Exchange

The world is globalizing at a remarkable pace and this economic and social transformation has profound implications for all those concerned with the future of local places and local institutions.

Urban answers specializes in cross-national lesson drawing as this provides invaluable opportunities for public service improvement and policy development.

We have a network of leading scholars and innovators in every continent and can draw on practical experience in a wide variety of settings.

Lesson drawing involves more than comparative research. It requires those involved to draw out the practical implications of research findings for policy makers and activists.

Robin Hambleton has wide experience of cross-national lesson drawing to improve local government and governance:

Cross National Dialogue

Robin Hambleton has wide experience of cross-national lesson drawing.

International Insights

The UK Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) for local government commissioned Urban Answers to prepare a series of five short articles (published in The MJ as well as on the IDeA website) on international lesson drawing for local government. Supported by the Local Government Association (LGA), the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE), the European Association of Chief Executives (UDITE), the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and the European Urban Research Association (EURA) the articles provide up to date reports on bold local government innovation in Australia, Italy, Sweden and the USA. Cities featured in the series include:
• Melbourne – the transformation of the central area
• Milan – an imaginative strategic project for the entire city region
• Chicago – the excellent 311 non-emergency phone service providing a highly personalized public service
• Malmo – an industrial town that is now a European leader in eco-friendly urban management

More International Insights


Article for US City and County Managers on City Leadership

The cover story of the December 2008 issue of the US magazine, Public Management, is designed to assist US city and county managers develop a more international approach to US city leadership and urban management. Written by Robin Hambleton and Jill Simone Gross the article, titled Local Management in a Global Era, examines urban trends and sets out five emerging lessons from global research on cities.
• Place matters more than is commonly realized
• Cross-national exchange can spur innovation in policy and practice
• Coping with ‘dynamic diversity’ requires new approaches
• Officers as well as politicians have a key role in promoting democratic vitality
• There is no such thing as ‘best practice’ in city management – leaders need to strive for ‘relevant practice’

More Local Management in a Global Era


City Futures 2009 –
International Conference in Madrid, June 2009

Robin Hambleton is Co-President of the International Conference on City Futures 2009 to be held in Madrid in June 2009. Organised by the European Urban Research Association (EURA) and the North American Urban Affairs Association (UAA) this conference aims to lift the quality of international dialogue about urban issues by creating a whole conference sharply focused on international exchange. The five tracks cover:
• Sustainable cities and regions, climate change, resource use and urban adaptation
• Knowledge and technology in urban development
• Community development, migration and integration in urban areas
• Urban governance and city planning in an international era
• Architecture, design and planning of the public realm

More City Futures 2009


• He led the organization of a major international conference on City Futures held in Chicago in July 2004. This attracted over 250 participants from 36 countries and many of the cross-national papers are available on the CUPPA website. For a clickable report summarizing lessons from the conference visit:

• A summary of his approach to cross-national lesson drawing is ‘Idea exchange finds favour’, Planning, 26 January 2007.

• A more detailed statement of his approach is set out in Cross-national Lesson Drawing for Planning – Taking Advantage of Globalization, a paper to the Association of European Schools of Planning (AESOP), Naples, July 2007.

•His latest book, co-edited with Jill Simone Gross, Governing Cities in a Global Era, published in 2007 by Palgrave, brings together contributions from 20 scholars covering all continents.

• He has led and managed several cross-national research projects including a major study of participation and city leadership in 18 cities in nine countries:

• He helped to create the European Urban Research Association (EURA) – an international network of urban scholars with members in over twenty countries:

• He was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship in 1988 and studied at the Institute of Urban and Regional Development, University of California, Berkeley. This led to his book ‘Urban Government in the 1990s. Lessons from the USA’ (Policy Press, 1990) and, subsequently, to his book (with Marilyn Taylor) on ‘People in Cities. A Transatlantic Exchange’ (Policy Press, 1993)

• His first contribution to cross-national lesson drawing was his comparative book on US and UK approaches to neighbourhood management and urban planning – ‘Policy Planning and Local Government’ (Hutchinson, 1978)