Implementing a research project on governance approaches and transformative change in cities in times of a global pandemic gives us the chance to examine this topic on a global scale instead of limiting the research to one country only.
This week, we launched our global survey, which we sent out to more than 800 cities all over the world. In addition, we are cooperating with ICLEI to gain access to its network of 1,750 additional cities. With such a large worldwide survey, we are excited to see how city government officials respond and how their responses deepen our understanding of governance and transformative change in cities.
Our next step is to conduct case studies in selected cities to gain a more detailed insight into urban transformation. We have narrowed down our sample of possible cities to Accra (Ghana), Cape Town (South Africa), Freiburg (Germany), Quito (Ecuador), Rosario (Argentina) and Singapore and are planning to conduct the case studies in two or three of these cities. Additionally, we are currently taking a closer look at Bonn through a pilot study. Conducting online interviews with people living in the same city as we do feels a bit weird as we would love to just walk to the town hall and knock on their doors – however, they would probably not open as they are mainly working from home such as we are. Yet, investigating transformative change in a variety of cities on different continents would not have been an option during a “normal” research team phase. In this regard, the digital fieldwork allows us to virtually explore various world regions, which we consider an interesting opportunity.
Of course, we had been looking forward to travel, and of course, we would love to meet again in person and not only see each other through a small picture on Zoom. Nevertheless, we are surprised how well virtual teamwork can function – also through the support of online tools, creative energisers and a digital teambuilding. And we all agree that we enjoy the team work, the digital research and the data collection – even though everything is different this year than it has been in the years before. But isn’t this the case for everyone?