Smart cities are associated almost exclusively with modern technology and infrastructure. However, smart cities have the possibility to enhance the involvement and contribution of citizens to urban development. This work explores the role of governance as one of the factors influencing the participation of citizens in smart cities projects. Governance characteristics play a major role in explaining different typologies of citizen participation. Through a focus on Amsterdam Smart City program as a specific case study, this research examines the characteristics of governance that are present in the overall program and within a selected sample of projects, and how they relate to different typologies of citizen participation. The analysis and comprehension of governance characteristics plays a crucial role both for a better understanding and management of citizen participation, especially in complex settings where multiple actors are interacting.