Rankings for smart city dialogue? : Opening up a critical scrutiny

Evgenii Aleksandrov, Elena Dybtsyna, Giuseppe Grossi, Anatoli Bourmistrov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This paper aims to explore whether and how contemporary rankings reflect the dialogic development of smart cities. 

Design/methodology/approach: This paper is based on the synthesis of smart city (SC), rankings and dialogic accounting literature. It first analyses ranking documents and related methodologies and measures and then reflects on four SC rankings, taking a critical stand on whether they provide space for the polyphonic development of smart cities. 

Findings: This study argues that rankings do not include divergent perspectives and visions of smart cities, trapping cities in a mirage of multiple voices and bringing about a lack of urban stakeholder engagement. In other words, there is a gap between the democratic demands on smart cities and what rankings provide to governments when it comes to dialogue. As such, rankings in their existing traditional and technocratic form do not serve the dynamic and complex nature of the SC agenda. This, in turn, raises the threat that rankings create a particular notion of smartness across urban development with no possibility of questioning it. 

Originality/value: The paper responds to recent calls to critically examine the concept of the SC and the role that accounting has played in its development. This study brings new insights regarding the value of dialogic accounting in shaping a contemporary understanding of rankings and their criticalities in the SC agenda.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)622-643
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Public Budgeting, Accounting and Financial Management
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2022-Jan-27

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Business Administration (50202)


  • Dialogic accounting
  • Rankings
  • Smart cities


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