Riding the rapids of austerity and managing urban crisis: a critique of 'fleet-of-foot' partnership mechanisms

Lee Pugalis, Alan Townsend

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


The form of crisis‐governance that is the focus of this paper is what has become known in policy parlance as ‘fleet of foot’ partnership arrangements. Through a survey of international comparative examples, the research contributes to the theorisation of these institutional configurations, which are propounded to be more flexible and responsive than administrative alternatives in pursuing local economic development and managing crises in the face of devolved austerity. Prevalent policy claims and political rationalities are interrogated through an empirical analysis of the situation in England that has unfolded over recent years, culminating in the establishment of 39 Local Enterprise Partnerships covering the country. A noteworthy correlation between them and their institutional antecedents is revealed, emphasising the importance of the legacy of political constructions. The research also draws attention to some of the primary weaknesses of fleet of foot arrangements and assesses their (in‐)capabilities as instruments for crisis management. More broadly, the paper contributes to the literature on urban crisis governance, austerity urbanism and contemporary trends in urban management more broadly.


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