Call for Paper: "Trust and the Smart City: Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area in International Focus"

Pierre Miège's picture
Call for Papers
May 21, 2021
Subject Fields: 
Chinese History / Studies, Public Policy, Social Sciences, Urban Design and Planning, Urban History / Studies

In December 2020, the HKSAR Government released the second edition of the Smart City Blueprint for Hong Kong 2.0 (HKSAR Government, 2020). The first edition of the Smart City Blueprint for Hong Kong dates back to December 2017 and set out 76 initiatives, whereas the second edition puts forth 130 proposals that aim to enhance and expand existing city management measures and services. It is therefore timely to review Hong Kong’s developments as a smart city.
Recent developments of smart cities around the world and in China have heightened both scholarly and public attention to the issues of trust and transparency. This proposal for a special issue draws inspiration from two distinct, rarely combined literatures, on trust and the smart city:

  • Trust has long been identified as an essential component of social, economic and political life. It is best understood as a generic term to describe dynamics taking place at different levels of analysis (interpersonal, social and collective), in relation to core properties (honesty, benevolence, integrity) and in association with key related concepts such as confidence, vulnerability, and community (Keele, 2007; Hetherington, 2005; Newton, 2007; Newton and Zmerli, 2011; Rousseau et al., 1998; Uslaner, 2002). In public policy analysis, the relationship between trust and transparency (especially in terms of organizational accountability) is central to recent literature in social science (Heald, 2012; Hood, 2007; Grimmelikhuijsen and Welch, 2012).
  • Interest in the Smart City also mobilises a diverse, multi-disciplinary literature. The Smart City lies somewhere between a material fact and an urban narrative. The Smart City is primarily material, in the sense that it refers to precise policy programmes and infrastructure associated with the digitalization of public services. This prevailing understanding is the one, for example, that underpins the Hong Kong Government’s The Smart City Blueprint for Hong Kong (Information and Technology Board, 2017), which proposed measures to build Hong Kong into a world class smart city in six sectors. The Smart City is also an urban narrative (Patterson and Renwick Moore, 1998). Smartness is a city vision, as much as description of a set of technical programmes (Cole and Payre, 2016).

The proposal is inspired by the project Trust and the Smart City, funded by Hong Kong Baptist University. From a preliminary qualitative data analysis based on scoping interviews emerge the themes of engagement, co-production, resilience, citizen-centeredness, innovation and sustainability.  This polysemy reflects the broad political and scientific provenance of the concept that is now presented:

  • From the perspective of the HKSAR Government, the Smart City aims to make use of innovation and technology (I&T) to address urban challenges and make recommendations for development with regard to six major areas: smart mobility, smart living, smart environment, smart people, smart government and smart economy.
  • From the governance tradition, the Smart City brings forth the interest in policy instruments and joined-up, usually digital public services (Capano and Howlett, 2020; Bolivar and Meijer, 2016; Kourtit, Nijkamp and Steenbruggen, 2017). Its advocates typically celebrate the ease of manipulation of ICT and the efficiency of portals as One Stop Shops for the digital age.
  • From urban studies, Smart City is a hybrid form of service delivery, inviting an interest in process (public-private partnerships), as well as substantive outcomes (Wang et al., 2018).
  • The Smart City also builds on an established tradition in socio-technological studies: Big Data is the latest manifestation of this tradition (Pasquale, 2015; O’Neill, 2016).
  • The Smart City is a public venture, though private actors might deliver public services. Hence the concept of public value is a useful one (Criado and Gil-Garcia, 2019), especially as it relates to co-production, engagement, public sector innovation (Lopes et al., 2019).
  • Finally, comparative perspectives on Smart City performance (the numerous indexes) demonstrate the global interest in urban design and the importance of transnational benchmarks and indexes of Smartness (Price Waterhouse Coopers, 2017; IMD-SUTD, 2020).

Through linking Trust with the Smart City, the special issue is concerned with: the equity, transparency and neutrality of public policy; the perceived benefits (connectivity) and possible harm (health, data transmission) of digital technologies applied to the city; the reception of Smart City service providers (domestic, foreign, new market players, established interests); the role of  regulation and government; the data security consequences of new technologies and the potential for new forms of citizen trust  and engagement. These questions of trust are applied to the smart city as a form of hybrid governance, taking Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area as the focal point, while also engaging in international comparisons. There ought to be no easy assumptions relating to trust and urban governance. The issue proposes to address these issues by combining analyses rooted in specific intellectual traditions: namely, those of policy sector, transnational learning, and political philosophy. As important as these substantive dimensions of output/outcome, the project is concerned with trust in processes (of Smart government) and in the ethical underpinnings of Big Data.

We hereby issue a call for papers on any subject relating to the above. Please send an abstract of around 200 words to:

This call for papers aims at creating a Special Feature in CEFC's journal China Perspectives (

Tentative deadlines:
Abstracts should be submitted no later than 21 May 2021
Final papers should be submitted no later than 4 August 2021


Bolívar, M., & Meijer, A. (2016). Smart Governance: Using a Literature Review and Empirical Analysis to Build a Research Model. Social Science Computer Review34(6), 673-692.
Capano, G., & Howlett, M. (2020). The Knowns and Unknowns of Policy Instrument Analysis: Policy Tools and the Current Research Agenda on Policy Mixes. SAGE Open10(1).
Cole, A., & Payre, R. (2016). Cities as Political Objects. Edward Elgar Publishing.
Criado, J., & Gil-Garcia, J. (2019). Creating public value through smart technologies and strategies. International Journal Of Public Sector Management32(5), 438-450.
Grimmelikhuijsen, S., & Welch, E. (2012). Developing and Testing a Theoretical Framework for Computer-Mediated Transparency of Local Governments. Public Administration Review72(4), 562-571.
Heald, D. (2006). Varieties of Transparency. Transparency: The Key To Better Governance?, 25-43.
Hetherington, M. (2005). Why Trust Matters: Declining Political Trust and the Demise of American Liberalism. Princeton University Press.
Hvelplund, F., & Djørup, S. (2017). Multilevel policies for radical transition: Governance for a 100% renewable energy system. Environment And Planning C: Politics And Space35(7), 1218-1241.
HKSAR Government. (2020). Smart City Blueprint for Hong Kong (Blueprint 2.0).
IMD Business School. (2020). Smart City Index 2020 by IMD Business School. Retrieved 2 December 2020, from
Innovation and Technology Bureau. (2017). Hong Kong Smart City Blueprint [Ebook]. Retrieved 2 December 2020, from
John, P. & Cole, A. (2000). When do countries, sectors and localities matter?. Comparative Political Studies33(2), 248-268.
Keele, L. (2007). Social Capital and the Dynamics of Trust in Government. American Journal Of Political Science51(2), 241-254.
Kourtit, K., Nijkamp, P., & Steenbruggen, J. (2017). The significance of digital data systems for smart city policy. Socio-Economic Planning Sciences58, 13-21.
Legislative Council. (2018). Report of Subcommittee on Registration of Persons (Application for New Identity Cards) Order 2018 and Registration of Persons (Application for New Identity Cards) Order (Repeal) Order. Retrieved 2 December 2020, from
Leydesdorff, L., & Zawdie, G. (2010). The triple helix perspective of innovation systems. Technology Analysis & Strategic Management22(7), 789-804.
Li, L. (2016). Reassessing Trust in the Central Government: Evidence from Five National Surveys. The China Quarterly, 225, 100-121.
Loorbach, D., & Verbong, G. (2012). Conclusion: Is governance of the energy transition a reality, an illusion or a necessity?. Routledge Studies In Sustainability Transitions4, 317-335.
Lopes, K., Macadar, M., & Luciano, E. (2019). Key drivers for public value creation enhancing the adoption of electronic public services by citizens. International Journal Of Public Sector Management32(5), 546-561.
Mah, D., Lam, V., Siu, A., Ye, H., Ogata, S., & Wu, Y. (2018). Understanding undergraduate students’ perceptions of dynamic pricing policies: An exploratory study of two pilot deliberative pollings (DPs) in Guangzhou, China and Kyoto, Japan. Journal Of Cleaner Production202, 160-173.
Mah, D., Wu, Y., & Ronald Hills, P. (2017). Explaining the role of incumbent utilities in sustainable energy transitions: A case study of the smart grid development in China. Energy Policy109, 794-806.
Newton, K. (2007). Social and Political Trust. The Oxford Handbook Of Political Behavior, 342-361.
Newton, K., & Zmerli, S. (2011). Three forms of trust and their association. European Political Science Review3(2), 169-200.
O’Neil, C. (2017). Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy. Crown Publishing.
Pasquale, F. (2015). The Black Box Society: The Secret Algorithms That Control Money and Information. Harvard University Press.
Patterson, M., & Monroe, K. (1998). Narrative in Political Science. Annual Review Of Political Science1(1), 315-331.
Perlaviciute, G., Schuitema, G., Devine-Wright, P., & Ram, B. (2018). At the Heart of a Sustainable Energy Transition: The Public Acceptability of Energy Projects. IEEE Power And Energy Magazine16(1), 49-55.
Price Waterhouse Coopers. (2017). Report of Consultancy Study on Smart City Blueprint for Hong Kong [Ebook]. Office of the Government Chief Information Officer. Retrieved 2 December 2020, from
Rousseau, D., Sitkin, S., Burt, R., & Camerer, C. (1998). Not So Different After All: A Cross-Discipline View Of Trust. Academy Of Management Review23(3), 393-404.
Ruhlandt, R. (2018). The governance of smart cities: A systematic literature review. Cities81, 1-23.
Susskind, J. (2018). Future Politics: Living Together in a World Transformed by Tech. Oxford University Press.
Uslaner, E. (2002). The Moral Foundations of Trust. Cambridge University Press.
Wang, H., Xiong, W., Wu, G., & Zhu, D. (2018). Public–private partnership in Public Administration discipline: a literature review. Public Management Review20(2), 293-316.
Wong, W., & Chu, M. (2020). Digital Governance as Institutional Adaptation and Development: Social Media Strategies between Hong Kong and Shenzhen. China Review20(3), 43-69.
Xiang, G. (2020). State-Society Relations in China’s State-Led Digitalization: Progress and Prospects. The China Review20(3), 1-11. Retrieved 2 December 2020, from

Contact Info: 


Alistair Cole (HKBU):
Emilie Tran (HKBU):

Contact Email: