European Journal of Spatial Development is currently undergoing some editorial and administrative restructuring. During this period, we are not accepting any submissions for review. We apologize for the inconvenience and we will up date you with further news when the situation is resolved.

European Journal of Spatial Development (EJSD) is a peer-reviewed open access journal. The journal offers an independent and open forum for research on spatial planning, and regional development, policy making and governance in Europe. In addition to original research articles we also publish debate articles and research briefings. EJSD publishes papers individually so not as part of separate issues like most other journals. All contributions are published online as soon as they have cleared the review and editing process.

EJSD is published by Nordregio and Delft University of Technology, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment.

Latest articles

Governing the Metropolitan Dimension: A Critical Perspective on Institutional Reshaping and Planning Innovation in Italy (#70)

Ignazio Vinci


As in other European countries, over recent decades the question of metropolitan government has captured political and academic attention in Italy too. The debate has been recently fuelled by a national reform introduced to create 14 metropolitan authorities to provide for new government solutions in the territories of the larger urban areas. Based on literature and empirical observation, this paper presents a critical view of that process by examining the following questions: How do metropolitan areas relate to broader Italian urban policy? How does the reform contribute to a reshaping of multi-level governance through national and local initiatives? And how does institutional reorganisation address territorial diversity? Based on the critical understanding of these issues presented in this paper, it is argued that several obstacles still need to be overcome before metropolitan government can be properly established and institutionally effective.

21pp (Refereed articles, February 2019, no 70)

Vinci, I. (2019). Governing the Metropolitan Dimension: A Critical Perspective on Institutional Reshaping and Planning Innovation in Italy, European Journal of Spatial Development, 70.

Planning for agglomeration economies in a polycentric region: Envisioning an efficient metropolitan core area in Flanders (#69)

Kobe Boussauw, Michiel van Meeteren, Joren Sansen, Evert Meijers, Tom Storme, Erik Louw, Ben Derudder, Frank Witlox


To some degree, metropolitan regions owe their existence to the ability to valorize agglomeration economies. The general perception is that agglomeration economies increase with city size, which is why economists tend to propagate urbanization, in this case in the form of metropolization. Contrarily, spatial planners traditionally emphasize the negative consequences of urban growth in terms of liveability, environmental quality, and congestion. Polycentric development models have been proposed as a specific form of metropolization that allow for both agglomeration economies and higher levels of liveability and sustainability. This paper addresses the challenge of how such polycentric development can be achieved in planning practice. We introduce ‘agglomeration potential maps’ that visualize potential locations in a polycentric metropolitan area where positive agglomeration externalities can be optimized. These maps are utilized in the process of developing a new spatial vision for Flanders’
polycentric ‘metropolitan core area’, commonly known as the Flemish Diamond. The spatial vision aspires to determine where predicted future population growth in the metropolitan core area could best be located, while both optimizing positive agglomeration externalities and maintaining its small-scale morphological character. Based on a literature review of optimum urban-size thresholds and our agglomeration potential maps, we document how such maps contributed to developing this spatial vision for the Flemish metropolitan core area.

26pp (Refereed articles, August 2018, no 69)

Boussauw, K., Van Meeteren, M., Sansen, J., Meijers, E., Storme, T., Louw, E., Derudder, B. & Witlox, F. (2018). Planning for agglomeration economies in a polycentric region: Envisioning an efficient metropolitan core area in Flanders, European Journal of Spatial Development, 69.

In Search of Domains in Smart Specialisation: Case Study of Three Nordic Regions (#68)

Antti Mäenpää and Jukka Teräs


The European Union has promoted regional smart specialisation strategies for some years, and several studies on this topic have focused on key concepts such as the entrepreneurial discovery process and good implementation practices. However, the definition and the role of the domain in regional smart specialisation settings is largely missing, despite it being an important outcome of a successful entrepreneurial discovery process. This article aims to fill this research gap by establishing what a domain entails as a theoretical concept, its role in the entrepreneurial discovery process and how it has featured in regional smart specialisation strategies. Our study analyses and compares three smart specialisation strategies in the Nordic regions of Lapland (Finland), Värmland (Sweden) and Nordland (Norway), focusing on the understanding and adaptation of the domain concept. The results indicate that the regions have managed to establish domains, even though the concept itself has not been adopted in the regions because of insufficient clarification of the term.

20pp (Refereed articles, August 2018, no 68)

Mäenpää, A. & Teräs, J. (2018). In Search of Domains in Smart Specialisation: Case Study of Three Nordic Regions, European Journal of Spatial Development, 68.

Participation according to the law? The research-based knowledge on citizen participation in Norwegian municipal planning (#67)

Toril Ringholm, Torill Nyseth, Gro Sandkjær Hanssen


Citizen participation is enshrined in the Norwegian Planning and Building Act (PBA) 1985 and accentuated by the 2008 revision of the PBA. In this article, we ask if the research on participation in municipal planning is sufficient to draw conclusions on whether the Act is effective with regard to both the spirit and the letter of the law. The guiding framework for the analysis is based on the concepts of input and output legitimacy and the distinction between ‘tidy’ and ‘untidy’ participation. The analysis is based on scientific publications published after the 2008 revision of the PBA. We find that the majority of the research concentrates on zoning plans and municipality-initiated ‘tidy’ participation. As a result, there are gaps in the research with regard to both the planning context and the interconnectedness of different forms of participation. Therefore, the research reviewed can only partially inform the law-makers on the functioning of the Act.

20pp (Refereed articles, August 2018, no 67)

Ringholm, T., Nyseth, T. & Hanssen, G. S. (2018) Participation according to the law? The research-based knowledge on citizen participation in Norwegian municipal planning, European Journal of Spatial Development, 67.

An Institutionalist View on Experimentalist Governance: Local-level obstacles to policy-learning in European Union Cohesion Policy (#66)

Stefan Telle


The paper has the dual objective of contributing to theory development as well as to the debate about the added value of EU Cohesion Policy. Experimentalist governance theory suggests that a virtuous feedback loop between policy design and implementation can the input- and output-legitimacy of policy making. EU Cohesion Policy formally resembles this experimentalist setting, but persistent debates about its added value suggest that the virtuous loop is blocked. The paper uses new institutionalism theory to systematically identify theoretical explanations for this blockage. It argues that the experimentalist link between organizational structure, pooling of experiences, greater participation, and policy learning is highly precarious. First, the rational-choice perspective suggests that the link rests on the optimistic assumption of a common utility function among the participating actors. Moreover, the structural funds provide strong incentives for grant-seeking. Second, the discursive perspective shows that the identification of shared interests depends on highly demanding speech conditions. Third, the sociological perspective highlights that the evaluation of information is socially conditioned. Therefore, learning may be based on fallacious assumptions and lead to undesired results. The paper substantiates these insights with empirical evidence from one case of institutionalized cross-border cooperation in East Central Europe.

20pp (Refereed articles, December 2017, no 66)

Telle, S. (2017) An Institutionalist View on Experimentalist Governance: Local-level obstaclesto policy-learning in European Union Cohesion Policy, European Journal of Spatial Development, 66.

Vision vs. Evaluation – Case Studies of Light Rail Planning in Denmark (#65)

Morten Skou Nicolaisen, Mette Olesen and Kristian Olesen


Light rail transit (LRT) is a popular public transport mode used to upgrade the public transport system and support urban development strategies. Despite the seemingly poorer socio-economic return of LRT in cost benefit analyses (CBA) compared to bus rapid transit (BRT) systems, LRT solutions are often chosen over BRT. Several studies show that the decisions to build such systems have not primarily been based on the socio-economic feasibility of the systems. Rather, they are often justified in terms of the branding value and positive image for public transportation, as well as the perceived ability to reduce road congestion and stimulate urban development. Drawing on Actor Network Theory (ANT), the paper analyses how LRT systems have been applied in a Danish context and the role that the CBA has played in this process. The results show that conventional socio-economic factors in CBA, such as travel time savings, play a relatively minor role compared to the larger urban transformation visions that LRT projects are embedded in.

26pp (Refereed articles, October 2017, no 65)

Nicolaisen, M. S., Olesen, M. & Olesen, K. (2017) Vision vs. Evaluation – Case Studies of Light Rail Planning in Denmark, European Journal of Spatial Development, 65.

The construction of a trading zone as political strategy: a review of London Infrastructure Plan 2050 (#64)

Jean-Baptiste Geissler, Luca Tricarico and Giovanni Vecchio


The recent London Infrastructure Plan 2050 appears as an attempt for coming up with innovative answers to infrastructure issues, aiming at providing new spaces where different actors can collaborate, defining adequate visions and governance bodies. Our hypothesis is that the plan can be interpreted through the relevant and yet ambiguous concept of ‘trading zone’, which highlights the setting up of new spaces for confrontation but also shows their use as political vehicles to advocate for increased powers and resources. To investigate the issue, the paper reviews the literature on the concept of trading zone in order to discuss in this perspective the London Infrastructure Plan planning process. The analysis is developed as follows: after a theoretical discussion of trading zones and their relationship with infrastructure planning processes, two significant aspects of the London Infrastructure Plan are examined: the stakeholders’ engagement required by strategic planning processes, and the ongoing planning processes of London, influenced by the Localism agenda. Consequently, the London Infrastructure Plan 2050 is described and reviewed in the light of its political strategic meaning, providing a discussion of its vision, contents and planning process. The analysis uses and rediscusses the concept of trading zone by observing how local authorities may use planning processes to strategically position themselves and influence the complex governance of infrastructure planning.

22pp (Refereed articles, July 2017, no 64)

Geissler, J-B., Tricarico, L. & Vecchio, G. (2017) The Construction of a trading zone as apolitical strategy: a review of the London Infrastructure Plan 2050, European Journal of Spatial Development, 64

Innovation Networks in Different Industrial Settings: From Flexible to Smart Specialization (#63)

Håkan Ylinenpää, Jukka Teräs & Daniel Örtqvist


The key research objective of this paper is to analyse industrial specialisation by developing innovative networks linked to the region. Institutional and entrepreneurial innovation systems, smart specialisation and a network based research framework for entrepreneurship are used as conceptual foundations in the paper. Based on theoretical elaborations our analyses illustrate how certain interventions have stimulated regional development and innovation in two specific Scandinavian regions. Our results highlight that both regions have gone from interventions fostering flexible specialization, with the motive of staying resilient and competitive over time, to an approach based on smart specialization with a focus on one or a limited number of strong industries.

18 pp (Refereed articles, December 2016, no 63)

Ylinenpää, H., Teräs, J. & Örtqvist, D. (2016). Innovation Networks in Different Industrial Settings: From Flexible to Smart Specialization, European Journal of Spatial Development, 63.

Multi-level Territorial Governance and Cohesion Policy: Structural Funds and the Timing of Development in Palermo and the Italian Mezzogiorno (#62)

Simone Tulumello


This article explores the role of changing arrangements of multi-level territorial governance in the European Cohesion Policy. It hypothesises the existence of a temporal duality between successful/unsuccessful phases of Cohesion Policy between the 1990s and 2000s, that is, a structural change in the implementation of Structural Funds stemming from the reforms at the turn of the millennium. The article seeks to understand the implications of such a duality using case study analysis, with the theoretical aim of exploring in-depth the connections between the European and the local scale. It analyses in the long term (1994-2013) the use of Structural Funds for urban development in a specific context, the city of Palermo in the Objective 1 region of Sicily, under-explored by international literature. The phases of Structural Funds are understood in the wider context of Palermo, Sicily and Southern Italy, emphasising the temporal coherence between (i) the phases of autonomous/dependent development, (ii) evolution/involution in the implementation of cohesion policies, and (iii) shifting multi-level territorial governance arrangements. The local case confirms the duality hypothesised and, based on this, wider considerations for the future of Cohesion Policy are set out.

23 pp (Refereed articles, October 2016, no 62)

Tulumello, S. (2016). Multi-level Territorial Governance and Cohesion Policy. Structural Funds and the Timing of Development in Palermo and the Italian Mezzogiorno, European Journal of Spatial Development, 62

When soft planning and hard planning meet: Conceptualising the encounter of European, national and sub-national planning (#61)

Eva Purkarthofer


Despite continuous research efforts, the role of the European Union regard­ing spatial planning remains unclear. This article proposes to employ the concepts of soft spaces and soft planning to better comprehend how Euro­pean spatial planning finds its way into the national planning systems. The EU contributes to the creation of soft spaces, differing from administrative entities, while at the same time, it acts as a driver of soft planning, focusing – both for strategic and legal reasons – on coordination, cooperation and mutual learning, rather than ‘hard’, regulatory planning. The article claims further that instead of depicting the connections between the EU and its member states, research should pay increased attention to the encounter of European and domestic planning within a country. The scales, actors and instruments that deal with EU inputs within a country might prove to be crucial factors that ultimately determine the impact of EU policies on spatial planning. To illustrate the encounter of European and domestic planning in the light of soft and hard planning, the article introduces a conceptual framework and thereby provides an outline for further empirical research.

20 pp (Refereed Articles, May 2016, no 61)

Purkarthofer, E. (2016). When soft planning and hard planning meet: Conceptualising the encounter of European, national and sub-national planning, European Journal of Spatial Development, 61

Territorial Cohesion: An EU Concept (#60)

Eduardo Medeiros


This article addresses the concept of Territorial Cohesion, which has been gaining increasing interest within academia and the EU policy circles. In particular, this article examines its relevance and main dimensions, and also suggests a comprehensive definition based on those dimensions. Ad­ditionally, this paper proposes a methodology which can be used to meas­ure Territorial Cohesion in a given territory. Furthermore, the article also highlights the importance of the territorial dimension as a key topic in the EU political agenda and, at the same time, gives a contribution to answer several questions for debate expressed in the Green Paper on Territorial Cohesion.

30 pp (Refereed Articles, April 2016, no 60)

Medeiros, E. (2016). Territorial Cohesion: An EU concept, European Journal of Spatial Development, 60

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