International Institute for Innovation in Governance



Place as layered and segmentary commodity


All over the world planners are developing novel approaches to manage urban growth in more sustainable ways, in ways more sensitive to spatial quality and to social, economic and ecological contexts. There is a widely shared understanding that the success of such approaches depends on the possibilities to integrate an almost overwhelming variety of objectives. Smart growth has emerged in recent decades as a comprehensive version of planning which can likely achieve this goal of complex coordination. Smart growth is a comprehensive version of spatial planning thatcan guide sustainable development and tackle negative social and environmental consequences of urbanization. In our paper Place as layered and segmentary commodity. Place branding, smart growth and the creation of product and value we explore how an integration of spatial planning and place branding strategies can further the concept of smart growth and improve its chance at implementation. A review of the parallel evolutions of place branding and smart growth shows their shared interest in comprehensive visions, sensitivity for narratives of place and self, and the proposed embedding in participatory governance. The concept of layered and segmentary commodification offers a novel perspective on value creation in smart growth and helps to develop new forms of smart growth, that combine and integrate elements of spatial planning and place branding.

You can download the paper from the website of International Planning Studies or from researchgate 


Water Governance in Central Asia


We develop a social systems theory perspective on Central Asian post-Socialist transition, placing particular emphasis on the coordination problems in transboundary water governance. The extensive Soviet water-energy infrastructure around the Amudarya and Syrdarya rivers required coordination, but this could no longer be politically secured after the 1991 Soviet disintegration. According to the social systems theory of Niklas Luhmann, coordination problems are generally endemic to any modern regime of functional differentiation. We show that each Central Asia state had to tackle substantial internal adaptation problems, which were rendered even more formidable by the need for transboundary coordination. We further demonstrate how the new riparian states offer a complex picture of several forms of differentiation, where functional differentiation is in some ways reinforced by the new national boundaries and the collapse of Soviet planning. We identify possible sources of flexibility, opening up avenues toward adaptation and enhanced coordination across boundaries.

Nodir Djanibekov, Kristof Van Assche & Vladislav Valentinov (2015) Water Governance in Central Asia: A Luhmannian Perspective. Society & Natural Resources: An International Journal. Online first:

New book: Theory and applications

EGTIIThis new book in the series on Evolutionary Governance Theory (EGT) presents empirical studies and theoretical reflections on the most important concepts and their interrelations. Through this book we learn how communities understand themselves and their environment. Authors from different disciplines develop the EGT framework further and apply it to a wide range of governance issues covering topics such as welfare state governance, networks of power, climate change, water governance, natural resource management etc. The contributors reflect on the possibilities and limitations of steering, intervention, management and development in a world continuously in flux.

The book bridges the gap between more fundamental and philosophical accounts of the social sciences and applied studies, offering theoretical advancement as well as practical recommendations.

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