Why Are "Best Practices" So Hard to Copy?

Though studies of "best practices" are meant to produce a path to success, they're invariably hard to follow. What we like best about cities - their unique character and systems - is exactly what limits the reach of best practices, says Mike Pagano.

"If only the failing, struggling, decaying cities would have the courage and political will to enact the same set of policies that the dynamic, creative, fast-growth, magnet cities had enacted, everyone would be better," says Pagano. Or so common thinking goes. 

"Cities, urban regions, suburban communities and rural towns have only one thing in common and following a Pied Piper is not one of them. Besides being composed of human beings, cities are unique." In addition to their unique geographies, demographics, and economies, cities operate in what Pagano and his colleague Chris Hoene call a "fiscal policy space". 

"Although there is a lot we can understand about undifferentiated cities by examining the actions of other cities (as the classic studies of Atlanta by Floyd Hunter in the 1950s and Clarence Stone in the 1990s, New Haven by Robert Dahl in the 1960s, and Middletown by the Linds in the 1930s demonstrate), not everything -- and it might be more accurate to say, very little -- can be replicated by another city or town," he argues.

Full Story: Why Do Cities Struggle to Replicate Best Practices?

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
Book cover of Contemporary Debates in Urban Planning

Contemporary Debates in Urban Planning

Featuring thought-provoking commentary and insights from some of the leading thinkers and practitioners in the field.
$18.95
poster

A Short History of America

From comic book artist Robert Crumb, poster shows how the built environment has changed throughout the decades.
$14.95