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Peer-Review Record

Perceptions of Priority Policy Areas and Interventions for Urban Sustainability in Polish Municipalities: Can Polish Cities Become Smart, Inclusive and Green?

Sustainability 2019, 11(14), 3962; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11143962
Reviewer 1: Anonymous
Reviewer 2: Anonymous
Reviewer 3: Anonymous
Sustainability 2019, 11(14), 3962; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11143962
Received: 12 April 2019 / Revised: 4 July 2019 / Accepted: 19 July 2019 / Published: 21 July 2019

Round  1

Reviewer 1 Report

It is an interesting and novel paper. The abstract provides a representative summary of the paper. The paper would be appealing for the audience of Sustainability Journal. It is related to previous works of the journal and other scientific publications on the subject.

The paper is well-organized and well written with the appropriate length. The methodology is correct and can be applied to other cases. The results are very interesting, very practical, and relevant.

There are some issues that the authors could consider and possibly address:

1.      The authors should prepare a map with the municipalities selected in the questionnaire. The map information could include the LGU type (CDR, UM or URM).

2.      The authors should explain what the electoral system is like by which mayors are elected in Poland.

3.      The authors should detail which political parties govern in the municipalities of Poland and the general political line of each party: conservative, progressive, populist, moderate .... In particular, they should indicate which political parties govern in the selected municipalities and the total number of municipalities of each political party.

4.      In the analysis of the Mayor's attitude toward urban development by factors it would be interesting to consider the political party of the mayor, especially the general political line of the mayor.

Are the progressive mayors in favor of including new urban challenges? Do conservative mayors prefer the old urban challenges? Are populist mayors opposed to the integration of minorities? Etc.

This analysis is much more significant than the one made by the authors for the style of city administration. Mayors have freely responded to the options and, as the authors point out, high grades are awarded in various styles. It is an ambiguous analysis, very subjective and not very significant.

5.      The authors make too many bibliographical references in the conclusions. It is not very correct. The conclusions are expected to be original.

6.      The conclusions should clearly indicate the limitations of the investigation. For example, many surveys have not been answered directly by the mayors. Or, for example, it is difficult for mayors not to give politically correct answers to a survey.

7.      Authors should translate the Polish titles of the references into English. The journal is published in English and for an international audience.

8.      Reference 35 is not correct. It is not an investigation that defends the benefits of the compact city, as the authors point out. On the contrary, it is an article that criticizes the idealization of the compact city. This should be corrected.


Author Response

Dear Sir/Madam,

We are grateful for your valuable comments and suggestions that have greatly helped us improve our article. We hope that you will find the method of their implementation satisfactory. Some detailed references to your comments can be found below.

Yours sincerely

Aldona Podgórniak-Krzykacz, Justyna Przywojska, Justyna Wiktorowicz

1.          The authors should prepare a map with the municipalities selected in the questionnaire. The map information could include the LGU type (CDR, UM or URM).

The map (Map 1 spatial distribution of the surveyed municipalities) considering the types of units was developed and can be found on page 7.

2.          The authors should explain what the electoral system is like by which mayors are elected in Poland.

The description of the electoral system which results from the provisions of the Electoral Code and that applies to electing executive bodies in Polish municipalities was included on page 8:

The executive power in municipalities is vested in mayors. The Act on the direct election of the mayor [PL: Ustawa o bezpośrednim wyborze wójta, burmistrza i prezydenta miasta] transformed the collective governing body in the municipality elected by the municipality council in the indirect elections (from 1990 to 2002) into a monocratic single-person body elected in direct elections. Candidates for mayors may represent a political party, a non-governmental organisation or a group of voters.

3.          The authors should detail which political parties govern in the municipalities of Poland and the general political line of each party: conservative, progressive, populist, moderate .... In particular, they should indicate which political parties govern in the selected municipalities and the total number of municipalities of each political party.

The sample structure and population from the political parties represented by the mayors point of view was referred to on page 8.

4.      In the analysis of the Mayor's attitude toward urban development by factors it would be interesting to consider the political party of the mayor, especially the general political line of the mayor.

Are the progressive mayors in favor of including new urban challenges? Do conservative mayors prefer the old urban challenges? Are populist mayors opposed to the integration of minorities? Etc.

This analysis is much more significant than the one made by the authors for the style of city administration. Mayors have freely responded to the options and, as the authors point out, high grades are awarded in various styles. It is an ambiguous analysis, very subjective and not very significant.

According to the reviewer's suggestion, the article not only focused on the management style, but also on the political affiliation of the mayors (pages 8, 21). In the period covered by the study, i.e. 2014-2018, voters’ committees comprised the majority – only one in four mayors belonged to a political party. Thus, the further analysis in this direction seems unauthorised. Moreover, the three political parties key in local governments, i.e. PSL, PO, PiS, do not differ significantly in terms of the discussed indicators (in ANOVA, p = 0.089 for W1, p = 0.905 for W2 i p = 0.189 for W3). It should be noted, that in general in municipalities managed by the mayors representing political parties, all indicators W1-W3 are higher than in other municipalities (these differences are statistically significant). It is visible especially in relation to three areas: (a) encouraging economic growth and employment, attracting investors, creating investment opportunities, (b) implementation of the smart city concept in the municipality, and (c) responding to global trends, technological revolution.

5.       The authors make too many bibliographical references in the conclusions. It is not very correct. The conclusions are expected to be original.

Our research assumptions are based on previous and recent studies of other authors, e.g. Śleszyński (2016) and Hausner (2013). The reference to literature in Conclusions results from the attempt to summarise the verification of the adopted research assumptions. At the same time, our intention was to confirm the absence of comprehensive methods to measure the development of sustainable cities, hence the appointment of existing research reports in this area and quite extensive references. It should be added that references to literature were made especially in the context of the future research – they do not constitute the conclusions from this study (they go beyond the earlier considerations, hence the need to recall them).

6.       The conclusions should clearly indicate the limitations of the investigation. For example, many surveys have not been answered directly by the mayors. Or, for example, it is difficult for mayors not to give politically correct answers to a survey.

The first suggestion was included in the conclusions on page 23.

Regarding the second issue, considering the low assessment of significant areas, the adopted research methodology (without the participation of the interviewer – CAWI, sent by post only if respondents wanted it) made it possible for us to reduce this risk.

7.       Authors should translate the Polish titles of the references into English. The journal is published in English and for an international audience.

The titles of publications in Polish were translated into English.

8.       Reference 35 is not correct. It is not an investigation that defends the benefits of the compact city, as the authors point out. On the contrary, it is an article that criticizes the idealization of the compact city. This should be corrected.

Reference 35 was replaced by the following: Mahriyar, M. Z., & Rho, J. H. (2014). The compact city concept in creating resilient city and transportation system in Surabaya. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences135, 41-49.


Reviewer 2 Report

The presented research focuses on the attitude of polish municipalities to the sustainable development issues and how they insert this fundamental topic in the local government. Moreover, the authors describe the actual situation, the methodologies (in a statistic perspective, they reach a good number of samples) and the different analysis methods. 

Some highlights:

In any part of the presented research authors introduce and describe resilience as an important element for a sustainable urban development. Why? 

Revise keywords: sustainable contemporary polish cities; local government and/or governance instead of sustainability; cities; transition; city leader.

To introduce the main complex theme of development urban sustainability, I suggest also to consider the EU and UN researches/agendas (i.e. UN (2015) Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; The new Urban Agenda 2016).

In the presented research, does mayor mean local government? Or does the mayor take all the decision by himself? Please clarify.

In the Result/Discussion paragraph, all the elements deriving from the different analysis are well describe but it is quite difficult to maintain the logical consequentiality due to the redundancy of presented data and the local government implications described. I suggest to define a more well-defined final sum-up (also with a schematic table).

At least, it is valuable the definition of further researches using this one as a tangible base, also as a benchmark for future evaluation of the implementation of sustainable challenges at the municipality government level.
               

Author Response

Dear Sir/Madam,

We are grateful for your valuable comments and suggestions that have greatly helped us improve our article. We hope that you will find the method of their implementation satisfactory. Some detailed references to your comments can be found below.

Yours sincerely

Aldona Podgórniak-Krzykacz, Justyna Przywojska, Justyna Wiktorowicz


1.       In any part of the presented research authors introduce and describe resilience as an important element for a sustainable urban development. Why? 

We agree that the concept of urban resilience comprises an important element of the debate on the sustainable development. Research assumptions adopted at the initial stage of the study, in particular the limitations related to the length of the interview (already extensive), led us to decide not to include this issue in the work. An in-depth research in this area would certainly constitute an important contribution to the results presented here.

2.       Revise keywords: sustainable contemporary polish cities; local government and/or governance instead of sustainability; cities; transition; city leader.

The keywords have been changed as recommended by the reviewer.

3.       To introduce the main complex theme of development urban sustainability, I suggest also to consider the EU and UN researches/agendas (i.e. UN (2015) Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; The new Urban Agenda 2016).

Reviewer’s suggestions have been included in our work in the Introduction on pages 1-2.

4.       In the presented research, does mayor mean local government? Or does the mayor take all the decision by himself? Please clarify.

Explanation of the above issue is included in the article on page 8.

5.       In the Result/Discussion paragraph, all the elements deriving from the different analysis are well describe but it is quite difficult to maintain the logical consequentiality due to the redundancy of presented data and the local government implications described. I suggest to define a more well-defined final sum-up (also with a schematic table).

The conclusions were corrected according to the suggestion of the Reviewer no 2.

6.       At least, it is valuable the definition of further researches using this one as a tangible base, also as a benchmark for future evaluation of the implementation of sustainable challenges at the municipality government level.

Thank you for that remark.


Reviewer 3 Report

The article deals with an important topic in a setting that deserves more attention. Despite my great interest in the subject, I find the manuscript has some frustrating aspects. There are still some issues that need to be further addressed before it can be published. 


First, the current manuscript doesn’t properly situate the study in the context of the larger literature on urban sustainability. What are the theoretical contributions of this article to the major field? The authors need to address this in this manuscript. It is highly recommended that the authors link this paper to the broader issues of urban sustainability. The following references should be citied: (1) Li, C., & Song, Y. (2016). Government response to climate change in China: A study of provincial and municipal plans. Journal of environmental planning and management, 59(9), 1679-1710. (2) Li, C. (2018). Essays on Climate Change Mitigation, Building Energy Efficiency, and Urban Form (Doctoral dissertation, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill).


Second, it is recommended that the authors perform a thorough edit to ensure proper grammar and accurate citation. Also, I don’t think the current title of this article is smooth to read. The authors may need to find a native English speaker to revise it.


In conclusion, I think there is value in empirically learning more about major’s opinion on contemporary urban challenges. This may make a great issue if the authors could make great efforts to revise it.


Author Response

Dear Sir/Madam,

We are grateful for your valuable comments and suggestions that have greatly helped us improve our article. We hope that you will find the method of their implementation satisfactory. Some detailed references to your comments can be found below.

Yours sincerely

Aldona Podgórniak-Krzykacz, Justyna Przywojska, Justyna Wiktorowicz

1.       First, the current manuscript doesn’t properly situate the study in the context of the larger literature on urban sustainability. What are the theoretical contributions of this article to the major field? The authors need to address this in this manuscript. It is highly recommended that the authors link this paper to the broader issues of urban sustainability. The following references should be citied: (1) Li, C., & Song, Y. (2016). Government response to climate change in China: A study of provincial and municipal plans. Journal of environmental planning and management, 59(9), 1679-1710. (2) Li, C. (2018). Essays on Climate Change Mitigation, Building Energy Efficiency, and Urban Form (Doctoral dissertation, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill).

The suggestion has been included. Appropriate sources were added to the reference list.

2.       Second, it is recommended that the authors perform a thorough edit to ensure proper grammar and accurate citation. Also, I don’t think the current title of this article is smooth to read. The authors may need to find a native English speaker to revise it.

The article was proofread. The title remained unchanged since the other two reviewers did not indicate such a need.

Round  2

Reviewer 3 Report

The authors have addressed my previous concerns; I could now support the publication of this paper.

Note: please add a comma after the word "inclusive" in the title of this paper.

Author Response

Sir/Madam Sir,

thank you very much for all your helpful comments on our article.

Sincerely,

Justyna Przywojska

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