Strategic Planning in U.S. Municipalities



Strategic planning started in the U.S. as a corporate planning endeavor. By the 1960’s, it had become a major corporate management tool in the Fortune 500. At fi rst, it was seen as a way of interweaving policies, values and purposes with management, resources and market information in a way that held the organization together. By the 1950’s, the concept was simplifi ed somewhat to focus on SWOT as a way of keeping the corporation afl oat in a more turbulent world. The public sector has been under pressure for a long time to become more effi cient, effective and responsive. Many have felt that the adoption of business practices would help to accomplish that. One tool borrowed from business has been strategic planning. At the local government level, strategic planning became popular starting in the 1980’s, and the community’s planning offi ce was called on to lead the endeavor. The planning offi ce was often the advocate of the process. Urban planning offi ces had been doing long-range plans for decades, but with accelerating urban change a more rapid action-oriented response was desired. The paper describes this history and process in the East Lansing, Michigan, U.S., where comprehensive community plans are the result of a multi-year visioning process and call for action- oriented, strategies for targeted parts of the community.


strategic planning, US, local communities, comprehensive community plans, East Lansing, MI.

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