This book draws on quantitative and qualitative data with concrete case studies to show how networks already operating in cities are used to foster and strengthen connections in order to achieve breakthroughs in learning and innovation.
I mentioned “clouds of trust” earlier. These are informal networks of confidence that link civic elites, and they are an essential feature of city learning. I call them elite networks not because they are exclusive, but because they consist of people, public and private, who are engaged in a specific project to improve the city, because they live there, they have a stake in the outcome, they care about their city. Networks like these were revealed in extensive interviews of 20 to 25 stakeholders in each of four cities. In each city, I asked key stakeholders to simply name up to 10 people they trusted, people who were active in the same area of concern (in each city, this was either a strategic plan, a program, or a project). Trust was defined in terms of confidence only, and not popularity, or status, or income, or family ties. It was surprising for me and others to see that key figures in the community who were most often trusted—sometimes people who were not obvious—and others, for instance elected officials—who were not named at all.