Publications

    Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, May 2020 

    In the eighth session of the COVID-19 Local Response Initiative convened by the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative in collaboration with Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Linda Bilmes, the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and a leading expert on budgetary and public financial issues, and Jorrit de Jong, Faculty Director of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative and Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and Management at Harvard Kennedy School, discuss budgeting during a COVID-19. Dr. Josh Sharfstein, Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; and Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo, Senior Scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and an Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering and the Department of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, provide critical public health updates and examine metrics mayors need to have in order to reopen their communities. Chef Jose Andres offered words of inspiration in his welcoming remarks to the mayors.

    Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, April 2020 

    In the seventh session of the COVID-19 Local Response Initiative convened by the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative in collaboration with Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Mitchell Weiss, Professor of Management Practice in the Entrepreneurial Management unit and the Richard L. Menschel Faculty Fellow at the Harvard Business School, and Jorrit de Jong, Faculty Director of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative and Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and Management at Harvard Kennedy School, lead a discussion on public entrepreneurship and how mayors can generate, try out and scale up new ideas while managing risk. Josh Sharfstein, Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; and Dr. Lisa Cooper, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, provide critical public health updates, examine racial disparities we are seeing during COVID-19, and offer actions mayors can take to address these disparities in their cities. Governor Hogan offered advice on convening a coronavirus response team to address the crisis in his welcoming remarks to the mayors.

    Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, April 2020 

    In the sixth session of the COVID-19 Local Response Initiative convened by the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative in collaboration with Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Nancy Koehn, James E. Robison chair of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, and Jorrit de Jong, Faculty Director of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative and Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and Management at Harvard Kennedy School, explored principles of leadership to effectively guide teams and communities during an unprecedented, multi-stage crisis. Josh Sharfstein, Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo, Senior Scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and an Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering and the Department of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, provided critical public health updates and guidance on preventing the spread of the virus in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi advised the mayors to rely on science in her welcoming remarks.

    Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, April 2020 

    In the fifth session of the COVID-19 Local Response Initiative convened by the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative in collaboration with Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Howard Koh, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard Kennedy School; Jorrit de Jong, Faculty Director of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative and Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and Management at Harvard Kennedy School; Josh Sharfstein, Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; and Tom Frieden, former director of CDC, president and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, explored collaboration—across sectors, departments, and levels of government—and the challenges, conflicts, and opportunities for effective leadership and a resilient recovery that come with this work. Bill Gates stressed the importance of relying on science to guide reopening the economy in his welcoming remarks to mayors.

    Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, April 2020 

    In the fourth session of the COVID-19 Local Response Initiative convened by the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative in collaboration with Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Jorrit de Jong, Faculty Director of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative and Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and Management at Harvard Kennedy School, moderated a discussion with Kimberlyn Leary, Harvard Medical School, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, on stress and mental health during the COVID-19 crisis. Josh Sharfstein, Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health provided critical public health information, and Tom Frieden, former director of CDC, president and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, presented the latest thinking on the conditions necessary to lift restrictions, reopen the economy, and resume city life. President Barack Obama offered advice to mayors on speaking truthfully in his opening remarks.

    Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, April 2020 

    In the third session of the COVID-19 Local Response Initiative convened by the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative in collaboration with Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Josh Sharfstein, Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health provided critical public health information. Jorrit de Jong, Faculty Director of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative and Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and Management at Harvard Kennedy School, moderated the discussion on learning as fast as you can and creating a basis for hope with Dutch Leonard, the George F. Baker, Jr. Professor of Public Management, at HKS and Eliot I. Snider and Family Professor of Business Administration at HBS and Juliette Kayyem, the Belfer Senior Lecturer in International Security at HKS. President George W. Bush offered support for mayors and frontline health care workers in his opening remarks.

    Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, June 2020 

    In the first session of the Latin American and Africa COVID-19 Response program, Dr. Cyrus Shahpar, Director of the Prevent Epidemics Team at Resolve to Save Lives, provided a briefing of critical public health information on COVID-19 in Latin America and Africa and introduced the Adaptive Response Framework, a public health tool to guide pandemic response decision making. Rawi Abdelal, Harvard Business School Professor and faculty co-chair of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, facilitated a discussion on crisis leadership—providing mayors with a tool for imagining and working through the implications of various plausible futures, and strengthening their capacity to respond and learn as they go. The session was moderated by Jennifer Musisi, the former executive director of Kampala, Uganda, and City Leader in Residence at the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative. Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies, and three-term mayor of NYC, welcomed the mayors.

    Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, June 2020 

    In the first session, Dr. Josh Sharfstein, Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health provided a briefing of critical public health information on COVID-19 within the United States. Georges Benjamin, Executive Director of the American Public Health Association, discussed racism and protests in the context of COVID-19, offering mayors recommendations on measures to consider when protesting to reduce exposure of COVID-19. Professor Danielle Allen, the James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University, and Director of Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, addressed the mayors on how the global pandemic, economic recession, and renewed focus on racial justice provide city leaders with an opportunity to reinvent public governance. The session was moderated by Harvard Kennedy School Professor Jorrit de Jong, and Harvard Business School Professor Rawi Abdelal, the faculty co-chairs of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative.

    Fiscal Strategies to Help Cities Recover—And Prosper
    Goldsmith, Stephen, and Charles “Skip” Stitt. 2020. “Fiscal Strategies to Help Cities Recover—And Prosper.” Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation. Read the full report Abstract

    Stephen Goldsmith and Charles "Skip" Stitt, May 2020 

    Despite robust economies, many local officials entered 2020 already worried about budget balances that looked fragile in the short term and problematic in the long term due to enormous pension and health-care issues. Today, in the wake of COVID-19, clearly federal support is necessary, but it is also apparent that it cannot alleviate all the pressures on communities as responsibilities related to the pandemic skyrocket while revenues plummet.

    While many public managers will rightly deploy a host of tactical cost-cutting measures, the most creative among them will explore deeper and more strategic changes, such as those presented herein, which will help address the current crisis while preparing their cities for the future. This paper suggests a transition to a culture deeply focused on data, incentives for city workers to produce internal reforms, public-private partnerships that monetize operational excellence, and rapid adoption of both new technologies and good ideas borrowed from other jurisdictions. These more deliberate and strategic approaches may be harder to implement but those offered here need not harm incumbent public employees nor negatively impact cities’ efforts to ensure access and equity. Rather, the strategies we outline should strengthen the efficiency and mandates of existing government offices while helping make cities more resilient and better prepared for tomorrow’s challenges.

    de Jong, Jorrit, Carlos Paiva, Carin-Isabel Knoop, and Rawi Abdelal. 2020. “Driving Change in São Paulo”. Read full case study Abstract

    Jorrit de Jong, Carlos Paiva, Carin-Isabel Knoop, and Rawi Abdelal; May 2020 

    In 2016, after many months of negotiation, the City of São Paulo approved a new ordinance regulating Transportation Network Companies (TNC). The new regulation allowed citizens to take advantage of innovative services and it enabled city leaders to manage the fleet with significant savings as well as unprecedented transparency and data. São Paulo, the first Brazilian city to adopt this model, faced internal responses ranging from vehement opposition to overwhelming support.

    The case chronicles the road to implementation, including lessons learned from the TNC ordinance process and the previous pilots. It examines the efforts of key players—including Administration Secretary Paulo Spencer Uebel—to fulfill Mayor João Doria’s public commitment to fix the transportation model, consider public opinion, and minimize disruption during Doria’s first year in office. The case also explores strategies for implementing innovative practices in government as well as dealing with resistance to change in organizations, especially in the public sector.

    Thanks to a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, no permission is required to teach with, download, or make copies of this case.

    Lisa Cox and Jorrit de Jong, May 2020 

    In 2011, at the newly formed Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), Judith Tumusiime, an impassioned technocrat who prided herself on operating outside of politics, was charged with transforming a “filthy city” to a clean, habitable, and healthy one. Early in her tenure, she was able to vastly improve Kampala’s solid waste management (SWM) system by creating efficiencies, increasing accountability, and bringing her technical know-how to a team that held little expertise. But by 2015, after several years of strong momentum, Tumusiime felt that her progress was stalling, and she faced political challenges around creating a sustainable SWM system.

    More specifically, her team was grossly overextended and needed to assign some of its SWM responsibilities to private contractors through an innovative public-private partnership (PPP). To ensure that the PPP was viable, Tumusiime strongly believed that all residents, no matter their income, needed to pay fees for garbage collection. However, the federal and local elections were approaching in February 2016, and politicians had told their constituents that they would not allow garbage collection fees, leaving Tumusiime with little support for her long-term vision. She was faced with a challenge: she could either dive into a political world that she had never wanted anything to do with to see if she could achieve radical change, or she could continue to make tweaks that might achieve short-term, small improvements at a slow—and even halting—pace.

    Thanks to a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, no permission is required to teach with, download, or make copies of this case.

    Norgaard, Stefan, Elizabeth Patton, Monica Giannone, Brian Mandell, Jorrit de Jong, and Guhan Subramanian. 2020. “In the Green: Negotiating Rail Expansion in Somerville, MA”. Read full the case study Abstract

    Stegan Norgaard, Elizabeth Patton, Monica Giannone, Brian Mandell, Jorrit de Jong, and Guhan Subramanian; May 2020

    Successful litigation against the Commonwealth of Massachusetts made an original, legal, and moral case for building alternative transportation in Somerville: the Green Line Extension (GLX). Having campaigned on extending the Green Line—first as alderman, then as mayor—Joe Curtatone took office as mayor in 2005. His first victory was creating a MBTA “T” stop for the Orange Line at Assembly Station. Working with the same coalition of nonprofits, he pursued a participatory visioning process (“SomerVision”) that brought together over sixty organizations from different sectors in Somerville, that had a common vision for the GLX. Curtatone overcame hiccups surrounding industrial parcels and successfully kept the project eligible for a federal NewStarts grant; using an economic-development narrative, he acquired the problematic parcels through eminent domain. By 2014-2015, though, the project was running over budget and it was uncertain whether the Commonwealth would support the GLX.

    Curtatone negotiated with the State of Massachusetts and agreed on simplifications to the original GLX, including a shorter route that would no longer directly benefit neighboring regional communities. He also negotiated project funding by the Cities of Cambridge and Somerville and the Boston Regional Metropolitan Planning Organization board (BRMPO). But then, the Commonwealth announced a shortfall of roughly $200 million, that Curtatone resolved through an agreement: Somerville paid $50M, Cambridge $25M, and the BRMPO diverted funding for the rest. The narrower GLX project was approved and construction began in May 2018. This case is designed as the capstone case in a series of negotiation cases developed by the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative. 

    Thanks to a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, no permission is required to teach with, download, or make copies of this case.

    Knoop, Carin-Isabel, Carlos Paiva, Jorrit de Jong, and Rawi Abdelal. 2020. “Fortaleza: Keeping An Electoral Promise”. Read the full case study Abstract

    Carin-Isabel Knoop, Carlos Paiva, Jorrit de Jong, and Rawi Abdelal; May 2020 

    During his re-election campaign in 2016, Mayor Roberto Cláudio faced recurring complaints from voters concerning the availability of essential medicines at their health clinics. Limited access to medicine frustrated patients and health care providers, raised the cost of treating chronic conditions, and increased the risk of infectious diseases. It also placed the City in violation of Brazil’s constitution that guaranteed access to essential medicines to patients of the public health system, most of whom were low income. In Cláudio’s first term, Fortaleza’s public health network went through significant advances, renovating the majority of its health clinics and improving access to medical personnel. The team’s considerable progress nonetheless fell short of a comprehensive solution for the lack of access to medicine. This became one of Cláudio’s main campaign promises, and a priority for his second term. The case chronicles how he approached a persistent problem, changed tactics and teams, and pushed for the necessary improvements and innovations to fulfill his promise.

    The case raises questions around how to deliver on a campaign promise when your organization seems to have hit a ceiling in performance improvement: When do you push harder for better execution and advancement of current systems? When do you invest in something new to achieve optimal performance? What is the role of mayoral leadership in ensuring that goals are achieved?

    Thanks to a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, no permission is required to teach with, download, or make copies of this case.

    Roberts, Brady, Elizabeth Patton, Monica Giannone, Brian Mandell, Jorrit de Jong, and Guhan Subramanian. 2020. “The Queen City’s Collective and Compassionate Approach: Fighting Opioids and Homelessness in the Granite State”. Read full the case study Abstract

    Brady Roberts, Elizabeth Patton, Monica Giannone, Brian Mandell, Jorrit de Jong, and Guhan Subramanian; May 2020 

    Elected at the height of the opioid epidemic, Mayor Joyce Craig came to represent the City of Manchester, New Hampshire as it grappled with the dual tragedies of substance abuse and chronic homelessness. An idealist in a state that valued personal responsibility and financial restraint, Craig had successfully expanded her City’s services to those seeking treatment for opioid use disorder and shelter. But these were hard-fought victories at every stage, and there was still work to be done. With just a few months remaining in her first two-year term, the mayor found herself on the eve of another difficult negotiation. She had recently established a diverse Task Force on Homelessness and set her sights on permanently solving Manchester’s homelessness and opioid crises. Next, Craig had to convince her counterparts at the state and local level to dedicate equitable funding to solving these intractable, moral challenges. (See Teaching Case Appendix 1 for a timeline of events in the case.)

    Thanks to a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, no permission is required to teach with, download, or make copies of this case.

    Jorrit de Jong and Eric Weinberger, May 2020 

    Jennifer Musisi, a career civil servant most recently with the Uganda Revenue Authority, was appointed by President Museveni as executive director (equivalent to city manager) of a new governing body for Uganda’s capital, the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA). Previously, power in Kampala had been held by an elected body, the Kampala City Council (KCC), dominated by opposition politicians and notorious for corruption, poor service delivery, and inadequate tax and revenue collections.

    As head of the new KCCA, a quasi-corporate authority now under central government, Musisi’s job was to change all that, and quickly, by fighting corruption and modernizing (thereby increasing) tax and revenue collections. She had to decide which municipal fees or taxes would recoup the greatest revenues for maximum impact on her city-improvement agenda of better roads, clean streets and markets, modern drainage and lighting, and more.

    Musisi also needed to find ways to remove longtime private tax agents who took, supposedly, a 10 percent commission from the City but in fact withheld most of their receipts, sometimes extorting additional, unofficial sums. Property tax—as it is throughout the world—was potentially Kampala’s most lucrative revenue source, but here Musisi’s effectiveness was limited without national legislative reform and government support. Thus, her most difficult challenges were transit and trading, on which thousands of poor people depended for their living while being vulnerable to private revenue collectors, middlemen, local bosses, and law enforcement.

    The case describes an extremely difficult, often dangerous situation in a fast-growing African capital, and an individual determined to make Kampala the model city she believed it could be. How did Musisi even begin? What was the best strategy for raising own-source revenue (OSR), and how did she navigate the politics—both ways, that is, with opposition city politicians who cultivate the poor, but also with President Museveni and his governing NRM (National Resistance Movement)? In recent history African capitals have depended on central government transfers for their budgets and that is still the case in Kampala. But with little expectation that she would get more support from central government, Musisi had to collect enormous sums for the improvements needed for Kampala’s infrastructure, health services, schools, and general business environment.

    Thanks to a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, no permission is required to teach with, download, or make copies of this case.

    Moore, Gaylen, Chistopher Robichaud, Jorrit de Jong, and Anna Burgess. 2020. “Making a Statement: Mayor Libby Schaaf and the Sanctuary City of Oakland, CA”. Read the full case study Abstract

    Gaylen Moore, Christopher Robichaud, Jorrit de Jong, and Anna Burgess; May 2020 

    In February 2018, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf learned through unofficial sources that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was planning to arrest a large number of undocumented immigrants in her City. Oakland had been a “sanctuary city” since 1986, and more than one in ten residents were undocumented. Mayor Schaaf believed that the ICE action was the Trump administration’s political retaliation against California’s sanctuary cities. She feared that law-abiding immigrants in her community—who she saw as scapegoats for a broken federal immigration system—would be swept up in the raid and subject to deportation. Faced with very little time and potentially significant legal implications, Mayor Schaaf had to decide whether and how to alert the community to a threat she took to be highly credible.

    The case is designed to help mayors, city leaders, and other public executives think through adaptive leadership challenges with highly sensitive moral dimensions.

    Thanks to a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, no permission is required to teach with, download, or make copies of this case.
     

    Vo, Hung, Elizabeth Patton, Monica Giannone, Brian Mandell, Jorrit de Jong, and Guhan Subramanian. 2020. “Beyond the Table: Infrastructure Development in Kampala, Uganda”. Read the full case study Abstract

    Hung Vo, Elizabeth Patton, Monica Giannone, Brian Mandell, Jorrit de Jong, and Guhan Subramanian; May 2020 

    Uganda’s development relied heavily on the economic growth and management of its capital city, Kampala. The World Bank had been active in Uganda’s urban sector since the 1980s and, in 2007, awarded Kampala a $33 million loan for institutional reforms and infrastructure development. Yet by the project’s 2010 deadline, only 30 percent of the project had been completed. Given the delays and its skepticism of a new, inexperienced administration, the World Bank threatened to withdraw funding. Nonetheless, Judith Tumusiime—first as a technical consultant and then as deputy executive director of the newly established Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA)—managed to turn the project around within two years, an almost miraculous transformation. Beyond revitalizing and completing the project’s first phase, could Tumusiime convince the World Bank to invest even more in the second phase?

    The case explores Tumusiime’s work to regain trust with the World Bank and persuade it to not only fund a second phase of the project, but to also significantly increase its funding commitment to the City. It examines how Tumusiime navigated her team, the World Bank, other local officials, and national level government actors. Moreover, it unpacks the misguided notion that a negotiation is a solely interpersonal activity that occurs at the table; a broader understanding of process—specifically scope and sequence—can impact the outcome (1). Drawing from David Lax and James Sebenius’ 3-D negotiation framework, the case demonstrates how Tumusiime built a strategy to effectively sequence actions in her negotiation with the World Bank. Her strategic vision and interpersonal strengths enabled her to make dynamic setup moves, improving her ability to negotiate at the table and craft a better deal with the World Bank.

    Thanks to a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, no permission is required to teach with, download, or make copies of this case.

    Vo, Hung, Elizabeth Patton, Monica Giannone, Brian Mandell, Jorrit de Jong, and Guhan Subramanian. 2020. “Many Ways to Get There: Securing Public Investments in Richmond, VA”. Read the full case study Abstract

    Hung Vo, Elizabeth Patton, Monica Giannone, Brian Mandell, Jorrit de Jong, and Guhan Subramanian; May 2020 

    The City of Richmond elected Levar Stoney as its youngest mayor in 2016. Mayor Stoney campaigned for better-funded public schools, government accountability, and crime prevention. One of the mayor’s main responsibilities was to propose biannual budgets to a nine-member city council, which could approve the budget as proposed or pass it with amendments. This case illustrates Stoney’s efforts to increase Richmond’s real estate tax from $1.20 to $1.29 per $100 of assessed value. This tax increase was quickly rejected by a majority of city council members. Disagreements climaxed when the mayor’s administration walked out of a city council budget hearing, prompting council members to respond by voting to pursue legal action against Stoney.

    This case focuses on how positional bargaining prevents creative deal-making when negotiators fail to understand the interests of other parties. By exploring Stoney’s relationship with city council, the case emphasizes the downsides of positional bargaining and the opportunities for better outcomes with an interest-based approach to negotiation. This case also introduces the four negotiation concepts of interests, options, criteria, and alternatives, and examines their relevance to city-level negotiations.

    Thanks to a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, no permission is required to teach with, download, or make copies of this case.

    Norgaard, Stefan, Elizabeth Patton, Monica Giannone, Brian Mandell, Jorrit de Jong, and Guhan Subramanian. 2020. “In the Weeds: Securing a Grass-Mowing Contract in Stockton, CA”. Read the full case study Abstract

    Stegan Norgaard, Elizabeth Patton, Monica Giannone, Brian Mandell, Jorrit de Jong, and Guhan Subramanian; May 2020

    Kurt Wilson, the City Manager of Stockton, CA, joined the city government ten months after the City declared bankruptcy. After successfully steering Stockton out of bankruptcy, Wilson committed to implementing a set of permanent financial control measures to ensure that the City remained fiscally solvent well into the future. He had an extensive background in both the private and nonprofit sectors and had served as city manager in four other California cities.

    Stockton’s Long-Range Financial Plan (L-RFP) indicated that the City could spend, at most, approximately $1.3M in 2019 fiscal year (FY19) on a contract to mow grass on city medians. The City had spent $1.2M the previous year. Wilson believed shortages of tradespeople in the Bay Area—caused in part by demand for construction after California wildfires—would affect price points. At worst, he thought he could justify spending $1.6M on the contract. Wilson cared about the fiscal health of Stockton, but he also wanted to ensure high-quality public services.

    When the City issued its RFP, bids started at $2.26M, well above what Stockton could afford. After considering his options, Wilson issued a new RFP that included a lower “base” scope of services with modular components that the City could accept or decline depending on cost. Stockton ended up spending $1.91M for a year of service, but even as costs increased, tall grasses remained on city medians. Wilson wondered whether there might have been a better way for the City to have anticipated the higher prices.

    Thanks to a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, no permission is required to teach with, download, or make copies of this case.

    Howard Husock, Gaylen Moore, and Jorrit de Jong, May 2020 

    Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, high atop a great many of the older, concrete-block buildings in lower-income areas of central Hong Kong and the neighborhoods of the Kowloon peninsula, informal metal-framed wooden structures housed thousands of families in austere, inexpensive quarters. These rooftop dwellings created a sort of shantytown in the air and, though built illegally, were nonetheless bought, sold, and rented on the open market. These structures were just one example of the larger phenomenon of so-called unauthorized building works (UBWs) in Hong Kong. These included balconies added to windows—sometimes used for beds—as well as hundreds of thousands of storefront street signs and canopy extensions on buildings in commercial districts, used to create rental space below for stores and restaurants on the ground floor. By 1999, the total number of UBWs was estimated at 800,000. By one assessment, if authorities continued enforcing the laws in the manner they had been, it would take more than 130 years to remove all such structures—assuming that new ones were not built in their place.

    This case raises questions about how to respond effectively to a complex problem that has arisen as a solution to other problems.

    Thanks to a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, no permission is required to teach with, download, or make copies of this case.

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