Purpose This study aims to discuss the transformational effect of the smart governance concept, which is one of the complementary elements of the smart city concept and to explain the change in governance structures according to the developments in information and communication technology. Design/methodology/approach In this study, the case study as one of the qualitative research methods is preferred, and smart city models of Barcelona, Amsterdam, Kocaeli and Ankara are examined. Findings In the research, scientific studies in the academic literature were evaluated according to the content analysis, and as a result of this analysis, the cities examined were grouped as "beginner," "medium" and "advanced." In the group, the characteristics of smart cities and the services they offer were taken into account. In this context, smart governance methods and their transformational effects are analyzed. Originality/value The most important contribution of this study to the literature is to identify the important characteristics of developed and successful smart city initiatives and to encourage their application to other developing world cities as a best practices model.