Dissertation Abstracts

Urban planning in the city of São Paulo: institutional persistences and changes over four decades (1983-2020)

Author: Camila Nastari Fernandes, camilanastari@gmail.com
Department: Territory Planning and Management Program
University: Federal University of ABC, Brazil
Supervisor: Vanessa Elias de Oliveira
Year of completion: 2022
Language of dissertation: Portuguese

Keywords: urban planning , path dependence , gradual change , institutions
Areas of Research: Regional and Urban Development , Organization


This research analyses Sao Paulo city government urban planning local authority configuration between 1983 and 2020. It examines how long-term institutional processes have developed during this period, considering the legal framework established by both federal laws: the 1988 Constitution and the 2001 City Statute. It argues that persistence (path dependence) and institutional changes (gradual change) coexisted during this period. The first one (persistence process) relate to the continuous presence of a planning model based on regulation, expressed by the institutional prominence of regulatory instruments such as the Master Plan and Zoning Ordinance over time. The second (change process) refers to gradual endogenous changes, classified into different types according to their interaction with formal rules, and evidenced by four cases: (i) the Information Department (DEINFO); (ii) the approach to the Social Function of Property (FSP) principle and its related technical division; (iii) the Urban Policy Municipal Council (CMPU); (iv) the public company for urbanization (EMURB/SP-Urbanismo). We demonstrate that innovations – in participatory processes, in transparency, in restraining propriety idleness, in urban intervention strategies – have expanded the bureaucracy’s functions without, nevertheless, replacing the sector's persistent regulatory pattern, thus indicating the strength of urban planning legacy in the capital city, already explored by the literature in previous decades. From the theoretical-methodological approach of historical neo-institutionalism, documentary research based on a historical-comparative analysis of ten municipal governments in the last four decades has been developed. This work, marked by interdisciplinarity, contributes to strengthening bonds between research agendas on political-institutional aspects and the planning field.