Entangled in scales: Multilevel governance challenges for regional planning strategies

F.M. van Straalen*, P.A. Witte

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The academic discourse considers the regional scale as an important planning level to provide for spatial objectives that transcend the boundaries of local authorities. Nonetheless, the problem-solving capacity of the regional planning level is still questioned by both academics and practitioners. This paper studies the tension between formal and informal regional governance and its practical challenges for two cases of Dutch provinces struggling with their position in regional governance networks. These cases entail pan-European development (Trans-European Transport Networks – TEN-T) and regional land development (Bloemendalerpolder). It was found that at the metropolitan scale, formal regional planning powers tend to overrule socially produced regional governance arrangements. Simultaneously, regional planning powers lack support of these socially produced arrangements for their interventions. At the same time, at the supra-regional scale, provinces are a logical stakeholder to fulfil a prominent role in regional governance, but often lack the institutional capacity to act as such. We therefore argue that regional planning authorities need to be granted the power and capacity to take up a more centripetal, intermediate role in governance arrangements. This would provide them more capacity to act in disentangling the difficult practical challenges of scalar problems that many regional governance arrangements currently face.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-163
JournalRegional Studies, Regional Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2018


  • Fuzzy governance
  • Regionalisation
  • Scalar problems
  • The Netherlands


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