The Mega-Problem for Mega-Cities: Management

Neither technology nor infrastructure shows any limit for how big or how fast cities can grow and more megacities are on the horizon, according to this piece from Richard Dobbs and Jaana Remes.

Representing the McKinsey Global Institute, Dobbs and Remes argue that perceived limitations in technology and infrastructure will continue to fade away, and growing cities will have to contend with the real issue: management.

"Does this imply that the future will be one of massive megalopolises spread across the globe? Theoretically, the answer is yes-there is no limit to the size of cities. In practice, however, the growth of most urban centers is bound by an inability to manage their size in a way that maximizes scale opportunities and minimizes costs. Large urban centers are highly complex, demanding environments that require a long planning horizon and extraordinary managerial skills. Many city governments are simply not prepared to cope with the speed at which their populations are expanding.

Already there are plenty of examples of dysfunctional cities across Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Without skillful management, cities become centers of decay, gridlock, crime, urban sprawl, slum housing, and pollution. The quality of life deteriorates and economic dynamism falters-scale diseconomies outweigh scale benefits.

These challenges are most acute in the megacities-cities with more than 10 million inhabitants."

Full Story: What’s the biggest limit on city growth? (Hint: it's not steel or cement)

Comments

Prepare for the AICP Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $199
Planetizen Courses image ad

Planetizen Courses

Advance your career with subscription-based online courses tailored to the urban planning professional.
Starting at $14.95 a month
Woman wearing city map tote bag

City Shoulder Totes - New Cities Added!

Durable CityFabric© shoulder tote bags available from 9 different cities.
$22.00
Book cover of Insider's Guide to Careers in Urban Planning

So you want to be a planner...

Check out our behind the scenes look at 25 careers in the Urban Planning field
Starting at $14.95