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GIS Development in China's Urban Governance: A Case Study of Shenzhen

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Government agencies have been an important actor in using GIS and other information technologies across the world. However, contextual examinations of government GIS practices over time within non-Western contexts remain sparse in the existing GIScience literature. In particular, little is known with respect to China's significant growth of using GIS in its urban government amidst its rapid urbanization and enormous transformation. This article presents an in-depth investigation of the case of Shenzhen city, one of the China's leading cities in urban government GIS development. Drawing upon critical GIS research and GIS implementation studies, a synthesized theoretical framework is developed to interrogate the nature and evolutionary process of Shenzhen's government GIS practices. The analysis is focused on examining the role of broader social conditions, local contextual factors and organizational characteristics in shaping GIS development in Shenzhen's urban governance. Situated in this contextual analysis, this article also illustrates the three major transformations of GIS development in Shenzhen's planning agency over the past decade. The findings show that GIS development in Chinese urban governance has been influenced not only by the instrumental functions of GIS, but also by the interactions and relationships among different actors and institutions with various vested interests in the process of structuring and governing the urban spaces. This study will contribute to the ongoing discussion of understanding the interwoven relationship between GIS and society in GIScience research.
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Keywords: China; GIS development; Shenzhen; urban governance

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Publication date: August 1, 2008

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