City Leadership, Governance & Reforms

The Business of Cities supports leaders and policymakers working for cities to help them manage growth, address long-term challenges and create a more capable toolkit.

On City Leadership, Governance & Reforms we work with:

  • National governments
  • Global and inter-governmental organisations
  • State and regional governments
  • City mayors and deputy mayors
  • City and metropolitan departments in charge of planning, economic development, transport, innovation and culture
  • Business leadership alliances and advocates
  • Local development agencies, district managers
  • Think tanks and urban research units

Through our work in more than 150 cities we have accumulated comparative insight about the journey that cities are on, common approaches to learn from, effective tools to adopt and reforms to promote.

We provide 5 kinds of support

  1. We advise national governments as they devise new national urban policies and prepare tools to support city and metropolitan growth
  2. We help cities that are entering a period of institutional reform to design new governance, make agencies more fit-for-purpose, and build a broader base of leadership
  3. We guide civic and business leadership in cities and regions that are experiencing acute challenges or strategic dilemmas, providing a fresh external perspective allied to a global evidence base of data and case studies
  4. We chair and convene international advisory boards of experienced city decision-makers to support cities and regions as they undertake a cycle of strategic planning or reforms
  5. We provide research, intelligence and key-note presentations about the big trends in the way cities are successfully led, governed and financed

1. Guidance to National Governments

We advise national governments on their approach to:

  • National urban policies
  • City deals and other investment agreements
  • Metropolitan and regional institutional reforms
  • Local government reform

2. Advice to Cities on Institutional Reform

We work with leaders at multiple levels of government to support initiatives for:

  • New and improved metropolitan institutions
  • Long term strategic planning
  • A stronger toolkit to manage growth and deliver projects
  • Engaging civic and business leadership more effectively

3. Strategic Analysis for Cities and Regions

We provide research-led and intelligence-led insight to governments to inform their strategic direction:

Our strategic advice draws on:

  • The latest global literature and evidence base
  • Interviews with leaders, decision-makers and key stakeholders
  • The best practical case studies across more than 200 cities

Our analysis supports city teams working on economic development, spatial and strategic planning, innovation and technology, arts and culture, housing and real estate, transport and infrastructure, and labour market and skills.

4. International Advisory Boards

We convene and chair international advisory boards of city leaders and experts, on behalf of cities and regions seeking external input for their new plan or strategy.

We draw on our network in over 100 cities to assemble a specialised Board, typically of 10-20 experts. Our International Advisory Boards have helped cities such as Moscow, New York and Sao Paulo. The Boards provide input to:

  • Long-term strategic planning
  • Waterfront redevelopment
  • New centres, 2nd CBDs and regional expansion
  • Hosting of major events
  • City identity and narrative

5. Global Intelligence on City Leadership, Governance and Finance

Our data, relationships and presence in over 150 cities worldwide help us to provide public and private sector teams with the latest insights on:

  • Effective governance models
  • Emerging fiscal and financial tools
  • Evolution of city and metropolitan strategies through multiple cycles
  • New policies to adapt to recent economic, social and technological trends and disruptors


Published by Wiley, our book World Cities and Nation States reviews the changing relationships between the big cities and their nation state over the last two cycles of globalisation. We assess the trends and the outlook in 12 leading nations, and argue for a negotiated settlement that develops a clear approach to each nation's future 'system of cities'.

How to Work with Us

Get in touch if you would like to commission us to support you with your City Leadership, Governance and Reform challenge. Fees vary on a project-by-project basis. Projects may consist of on-site research, full stakeholder engagement, moderating or convening an International Advisory Panel, review of strategies, international case studies, advisory support to your senior team, and keynote presentations to your Board or your network.