The papers from this issue come from a workshop held in Shanghai in September 2018. The workshop was organised by the Greater China Australia Dialogue on Public Administration, a network of academics and former practitioners across a range of universities in Australia, the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan. The Dialogue has held workshops each year since 2011 on issues of common interest allowing increasingly rich understanding of the different institutional arrangements and practices across the jurisdictions. The 2018 workshop focused on urban governance. The growth of cities and the challenges of their governance have been recognised as an international phenomenon and issue over the last few decades. China’s experience has perhaps been the most spectacular as its ratio of rural to urban populations has increased over the last 25 years from 80:20 to around 40:60 – representing the movement of over 500 million people into cities. The scale of recent urbanisation in Australia is much more modest but from an already high base, and Australia is also facing the challenges of managing megacities in Sydney and Melbourne albeit not as “mega” as the biggest cities in China.