Here you can find all articles published during 2017.

Refereed 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 DenmarkEuropean 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