Danielle Gluns

From Plans to Policies. Local Housing Governance for the Growing Cities Vienna and Washington, D.C.


Prof. Dr. Annette Zimmer (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster)


After a period of suburbanization, many cities have started to grow again. The rising number of inhabitants requires new dwellings and an expansion of the urban infrastructure, putting pressure on existing physical structures. In addition, population growth can exacerbate socio-spatial inequalities. Local governments try to shape these processes in many ways. Usually, an urban development plan is adopted, laying out where and how the city shall grow. A premise of this dissertation is that the model of the future city depicted in such a plan needs to be translated into concrete policies in order to produce tangible outcomes. In particular, the field of housing is crucial for accommodating population growth and has a significant influence on the built environment.

Local governments cannot translate the goals of the urban development plan into housing policies single-handedly. Various actors influence urban development and residential property markets. The modes of interaction between these actors constitute the respective urban governance structures. The dissertation assumes that these structures are rather stable. Thus, the question arises if policy change is possible within existing governance structures and if and how these structures adapt in response to external changes.

The book analyzes the translation of urban development plans into housing policies at the example of two growing cities with widely differing governance and policy traditions: Washington, D.C., is a city that is pursuing mainly a market-liberal approach, whereas Vienna has historically strongly intervened in the local housing system. The study identifies the extent and mechanisms of path dependence of these systems and the respective opportunities or barriers for policy change.

It shows that path dependence is an important feature in urban housing governance, with actors interpreting new problems and plans in the light of their prior experience and drawing on existing relationships to address them. Distinct mechanisms lead to stability in the two different systems, with deeply embedded norms (Washington, D.C.) or very close relationships (Vienna) as the main barriers to policy change. Even so, instances of change are also visible that may accrue to path-departing change in the long term.


Danielle Gluns studierte im M.A. Internationale Migration und Interkulturelle Beziehungen und im B.A. Europäische Studien an der Universität Osnabrück. Dieses Studium wurde durch ein Stipendium der Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes gefördert. Von 2012 bis 2018 war sie wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin an der Universität Münster, wo sie im April 2018 ihre Dissertation verteidigte. Die Arbeit ist im Springer Verlag erschienen und erhielt Preise des Deutschen Mieterbundes sowie der NRW.Bank. Seit Januar 2019 ist Danielle Gluns Leiterin der Forschungs- und Transferstelle Migrationspolitik an der Universität Hildesheim.