Contracting with citizens: How residents in Hamburg and New York negotiated development agreements

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Residents are often excluded from contractual negotiations, which limits their influence over development projects. In this article, I explored four cases in Hamburg and New York in which residents succeeded in negotiating agreements on developments in their neighborhoods. The aim of this study was to understand how residents can harness agreements to bend development processes toward their goals. In each case, various types of agreements were used. The agreements differed in terms of neighborhood benefits, planning, monitoring, flexibility and enforceability aspects. The benefits of each project to the respective neighborhood were first assessed by an organization that represents residents or involves individual residents. Next, each project was monitored through oversight committees or by providing reports to representatives of the neighborhood. The agreements in three of the four cases were relatively rigid. Lastly, the contracts were designed by the parties involved to include penalties or mitigation processes if parties failed to perform their obligations. This research project contributes to the body of literature on contractual governance and participatory democracy by showing how agreements are designed when residents are involved in negotiation processes. This study shows that contracts can be used as accountability mechanisms and enhance residents’ influence over development projects in their neighborhoods.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105743
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalLand Use Policy
Issue numberDecember 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Accountability
  • Citizen participation
  • Contracts
  • Governance
  • Urban development


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