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European Journal of Spatial Development

European Journal of Spatial Development

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 on-line 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


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 2050European 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 SpecializationEuropean 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 MezzogiornoEuropean 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 planningEuropean 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 conceptEuropean Journal of Spatial Development, 60


The Openness Buzz in Metropolitan Regions: Swedish Regional Development Strategies (#6)

Anna Lundgren


In the networked information and knowledge society, we see a frequent use of the notions of “open” and “openness”; open source, open region, open economy, open government, open innovation. In parallel we can also observe changes of practises relating to how we produce and exchange products, information, knowledge and culture, enabled by the knowledge society, information technology and the Internet. This is the point of departure when this article examines how openness is interpreted and discussed in the three metropolitan regions of Stockholm, Göteborg and Malmö in Sweden. Accessibility as a quality of openness is found to play a particularly important role. From an institutional perspective openness is mainly discussed in relation to governance and policy, although openness may also be related to norms and culture.

16pp (Articles, December 2016, no 6)

Lundgren, A. (2016). The Openness Buzz in Metropolitan Regions: Swedish Regional Development StrategiesEuropean Journal of Spatial Development, Research Briefing, 6

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ISSN 1650-9544