International Institute for Innovation in Governance


evolutionary governance theory

Evaluation in co-evolutionary spatial planning


Spatial developments are becoming increasingly a-linear and dynamic with a wide range of possible actors. The awareness of uncertainty is growing and, therefore, projects need to integrate a high level of flexibility. But simultaneously, there is a growing demand for more informed and well-argued decisions. Predictions from the ‘best estimated model’ are no longer credible nor accepted, being too fragile and uncertain. How can we keep long-lasting, multi-actor projects in permanent transition on track? This expresses an important demand for more integrated evaluation in spatial planning. In this respect, this paper analyses existing theoretical evaluation strategies and how these strategies deal with spatial developments. They are still usually structured along static, generic and circular approaches; in fact, many neglect the dynamic, plural and a-linear realities. Therefore, this paper develops a post-structural evaluation approach for various planning issues and different playing fields of actors, followed by an illustration of the various settings for this approach in a Flemish case. Finally, we discuss how spatial planning and future plans might be evaluated with a dissipative role for evaluation.

Terryn, E., Boelens, L., & Pisman, A. (2016). Beyond the divide: evaluation in co-evolutionary spatial planning. European Planning Studies, 1-19.


Spatial planning in cross-border regions: A systems-theoretical perspective


Most scholarship in spatial planning presupposes an established institutional setting, where a specific legal framework is in place, one is accustomed to certain procedures and routines, and planning has a certain (national) history. In cross-border regions, however, this becomes problematic as different institutional settings clash. Combining systems and organizational theory, this article constructs a theoretical perspective on planning, explicitly conceptualizing differences, that is, boundaries, in institutional settings. This sheds new light on the prospects and realities of spatial planning across national borders. National borders double the complexity of spatial planning, and organizations working in cross-border spatial planning need to take this into account by acknowledging their own and others’ organizational boundaries as well.

Jacobs, J. (2016) Spatial planning in cross-border regions: A systems-theoretical perspective. Planning Theory 15(1): 68-90.



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