Self-Organization in Urban Regeneration: A Two-Case Comparative Research
Urban regeneration processes in which local stakeholders take the lead are interesting for realizing tailor made and sustainable urban regeneration, but are also faced with serious difficulties. We use the concept of self-organization from complexity theory to examine the relationship between local stakeholders’ initiatives and vital urban regeneration processes. We conducted a two-case comparative research, Caterham Barracks and Broad Street Business Improvement Districts Birmingham (UK), in which local stakeholders take the lead. We analyse the evolution of these regeneration processes by using two different manifestations of self-organization: autopoietic and dissipative self-organization. We found that a balanced interplay between autopoietic and dissipative self-organization of local stakeholders is important for vital urban regeneration processes to establish. We elaborate four explanatory conditions for this interplay. These conditions provide at the one hand stability and identity development, but also the needed connections with established actors and institutions around urban regeneration and flexibility to adjust to evolving demands during the process of regeneration. However, consolidation of such initiatives does mean a challenge for existing structures for the government, market and society that will need to adapt and change their roles to new governance realities. In this way self-organizing processes become meaningful in the regeneration of urban areas.