International Institute for Innovation in Governance


evolutionary governance theory

Governance arrangements, funding mechanisms and power configurations

Implementing strategic spatial plans is a complex task. The process involves strategy formation, institutional capacity building, funding mechanism establishment and governance arrangements, which take shape within complex power configurations. Based on empirical evidence gathered by interviewing regional planning experts, this paper focuses on the role of governance arrangements and funding mechanisms in current practices of strategic plan implementation in 14 European urban regions. This investigation was completed bearing in mind power configurations, which shape and frame governance arrangements and funding mechanism in planning practice. A cross-case comparison provides evidence that, among the governance arrangements influencing plan implementation, negotiation and interest groups involvement are pivotal. Negotiation involves private interest groups, such as real estate agencies and environmental non-governmental organizations. The paper shows that in some case studies private interest groups have a substantial bargaining power to negotiate, for example, the development of a new housing settlement or a retail facility, while other groups struggle to safeguard natural areas. It is also during negotiations that plan implementation intentions are prioritized, strategic urban projects are formulated and funding mechanisms are established. The paper demonstrates that to truly grasp plan implementation praxis it is necessary to go beyond multi-actor involvement and inter-scalar government cooperation. It is necessary to scrutinize the funding sources, investigate who wins and who loses while negotiations are happening, and how plan implementation decisions are actually made.

Oliveira, E. & Hersperger, A.M. (2018) Governance arrangements, funding mechanisms and power configurations in current practices of strategic spatial plan implementation. Land Use Policy. Online first:



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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