Understanding National Trajectories of Regionalism Through Legitimate, Political and Administrative Capital: A Comparative Case Study of the Institutional Degrees of Regionalism and the Actors’ Abilities to Create Institutional Elements, Collaborate and Coordinate Policies in England, Poland And Denmark

Peter Wilgaard Larsen, Martin Ferry

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Regionalism is an ism referring to “political movements which demand greater control over the affairs of theregional territory by the people residing in that territory” (Keating, 1997:5). Despite the successful influence ofthis ideology on decision-makers from the European Commission to the national and regional levels (Salone,2010: 1213), not many attempts have been made in understanding the trajectories of Regionalism. In otherwords, what drives national, regional and local actors’ ability to create institutional elements, cooperate andcoordinate policies on regional level to secure or maintain full institutionalisation of Regionalism. This paperaddresses two main issues of the literature of regionalism:1. How do you neutralise national context to compare regionalism between countries?2. How to understand the expansion and contraction of regionalism?By analytically comparing three regions across England, Poland, and Denmark, the challenge of comparing theinstitutional degree of regionalism between regions in various countries, cf. issue 1, is responded through a fivestages-institutionalisation model ranging from de-institutionalisation to full institutionalisation. The question ofunderstanding the dynamics of regionalism, cf. issue 2, is answered by analytically comparing the actors of thevarious regions’ abilities to create institutional elements, collaborating and coordinating policies according tolegitimate, political and administrative capital.Regionalism as a power struggle between national, regional and local levelsDue to its open dimension of spatiality (Salone: 2010: 1213), regionalism - as a term - is vague enough forscholars to apply in spite of their field of subject being cityregions (Harrison, 2012 & 2010; Wheeler, 2002),subnational regions (Salone, 2010; Mawson, 2007; Counsell et al 2007; Bond, 2004; John et al, 2002; Tomaney,2002 & 2000) or supranational regions (Mansfield, 2010; Söderbaum et al, 2005; Hettne et al, 1999). Accordingto Oxford Dictionaries (2015), a region is an area, especially part of a country or the world having definablecharacteristics but not always fixed boundaries. As such, for decades Regionalism has been an umbrella forvarious perspectives on regions within the fields of regional planning, regional development and internationalrelations. Paradoxically, the launching of New Regionalism - which can be seen as an attempt to surpass orovercome the ambiguity of regionalism - has only increased the indistinctness of the term. Indeed, regionalismis a contested term (Sagan & Halkier, 2005).Whether subscribing on “old” or new regionalism what seems to unites the various fields of study is the currentrole of regions as contested spaces where economic, political and social actors attempt to institutionalise “their”vision of “their” region as the dominant form of territorial governance (Halkier,2008: 2). Likewise, by denotingregions the intrinsic role as crucibles of economic development and prime focus of economic policy (Webb &Collis, 2000: 857), regionalism is a process of institutionalising power on regional level at the expense of localand national levels. This power struggle between competing levels is a matter of giving and taking in a zero-sumpower game.The five stages-institutionalisation modelPeters & Marcussen’s (2008) five-stage institutionalisation model elucidates the dynamics of such a powergame:1. De-institutionalisation constitutes a rupture with past practices and ideas. In such a critical juncture, oldinstitutional elements are being delegitimised.2. Pre-institutionalisation indicates that an ideational vacuum has emerged and new ideas can be aired.3. Semi-institutionalisation points to institutional innovation implying that a simple foundation for a possiblefuture path may be defined.4. Institutionalisation represents the process through which a complex structure of institutional elementsgradually takes form through bricolage. Multiple routines are being habitualised.5. Full institutionalisation amounts to an institutional equilibrium in which a sense of settledness and takenfor-grantedness indicates internalisation of institutional elements.With point of departure in Regionalism as a process of de-institutionalisation and institutionalisation, adefinition of regionalism is pursued in the following.Regionalism definedA definition of regionalism should effortlessly be available by reviewing the academic literature of regionalism.However, the absence of a definition is salient whatever it is Regionalism (Sagan & Halkier, 2005, John et al,2002 & Tomaney, 2002), New Regionalism (Bukve, 2005; Söderbaum et al, 2005; Wheeler, 2002; Tomaney et al,2002; Webb & Collis, 2000 & Hettne, 1999), New Italian Regionalism (Salone, 2010), English Regionalism(Mawson, 2007 & Bond, 2004), City-regionalism (Harrison, 2012 & 2010) or Fragmented Regionalism (Counsellet al, 2007). Rather than defining regionalism, emphasis has been on explaining the emergent movement ofregionalism as an [superior] answer to globalization (Cooke & Morgan, 1998).Nevertheless, in line with Regionalism as a power game between competing levels, Mansfield & Solingen (2010)define Regionalism as a process of institution creation … marked by cooperation and policy coordination. Thus,Regionalism is a process that engages actors (Mansfield & Solingen, 2010: 146-7). Inspired by this definition ofRegionalism, this paper applies the following definition: Regionalism is a process of institutionalisation on regional level that engages actors to createinstitutional elements, cooperate and coordinate policies.The institutional elements, cooperation and policy coordination mutually stipulates the institutional degree ofregionalism. Nevertheless, the actors’ willingness and engagement - or lack of it - to create institutionalelements, cooperate and coordinate policies is driven by the process of institutionalisation on regional level,typically initiated by regional policy entrepreneurs but instigated through legislation on national level (Webb &Collis, 2000: 861).In the following regionalism is operationalised through the five-stage model of institutionalisation.Institutional degrees of regionalismBeing defined as a process of institutionalisation, regionalism covers the five stages of the abovementionedinstitutionalisation-model. Stage 1 deinstitutionalise past practice and ideas and hence makes room for newthoughts. Stage 2 and 3 gives policy entrepreneurs the opportunity of airing solutions on experienced problemsand realise ideas. At stage 4, institutional elements are created to institutionalise the chosen idea of thepreceding stages. To reach stage 5’s full institutionalisation, the institution is internalised through cooperationand coordinating policies between actors.Analysing the process of institutionalising regionalismTo measure the institutional degree of regionalism, firstly the process of institutionalising regionalism inEngland, Poland and Denmark are analysed according to the first four institutional degrees of regionalism. Thecriteria of the fifth and last institutional degree of regionalism is analysed on regional level to assess whetherregionalism is fully institutionalised.Preliminary results of the analysesEngland merely managed to reach the institutional degree of institutionalisation before the RDAs was delegitimisedand replaced by the idea of Local Enterprise Partnerships. Hence, England never managed to reachfull institutionalisation of regionalism.Neither has Poland - due to competition between regional governments and RDAs - managed to reach fullinstitutionalisation of regionalism, leaving Denmark and their regional growth forums to have reached fullinstitutionalisation of regionalism.The full institutionalisation of regionalism in DenmarkSince the 1950’ties and despite of several attempts on local and regional levels to gain influence on regionaldevelopment, administering regional policy was a national level responsibility (Kristensen, 2011: 160). However,in 1991, the government deinstitutionalised the past practice of national governed regional policy by cancellingthe Regional Development Act of 1958 (Folketingstidende). To improve the regional and local levels possibilitiesfor EU-funding, this abolishment of the Regional Development Act was followed up by a Local GovernmentDevelopment Act of 1992 that legalised sub-national development initiatives (Folketingstidende).Through this ideational vacuum and the subsequent institutional innovations of three partnership-orientatedentities, the regional growth forums was institutionalised as part of the Danish Structural Reform. Enacted in2005 and put into effect in 2007 by amalgamating respectively 275 municipalities and 14 counties to 98 newmunicipalities and five Regions, the reform replaced the 1992 Local Government Act by the BusinessDevelopment Act of 2005 in which regional growth forums orchestrate regional development as a statutorypartnership-orientated task for the new Regions (Folketingstidende).In the Danish regional case, the institutional elements of cooperation have been the Open Secretariat, theDialogue Group, the Recommendation Committee, and the Presidency of Growth Forum. Likewise have theinstitutional elements of coordination been the 2005 Danish Globalisation Strategy, the Business DevelopmentStrategy 2007-10, The 2007 Regional Development Plan, annual partnership agreements between nationalgovernment and Growth Forum, and partnership agreements between Growth Forum and regionaldevelopment actors. Combined has these institutional elements of Growth Forum enabled cooperation andpolicy coordination that has internalised the institution of Growth forum, which corresponds to regionalismbeing full institutionalised.Legitimate, administrative and strategic capitalThe ability and engagement of the actors to carry out the abovementioned constitutions of regionalism seemsto be contingent on the legitimate, political and administrative capital of the region, which appears to explainwhy some countries institutionalise or de-institutionalise regionalism.
TitelGreat Transformation : Recasting Regional Policy. conference Proceedings of the Regional Studies Association Winter Conference November 2015
RedaktørerLesa Reynolds
Antal sider4
ForlagRegional Studies Association
Publikationsdatonov. 2015
ISBN (Elektronisk)978-1-897721-51-3
StatusUdgivet - nov. 2015
BegivenhedRSA Winther Conference - London, Storbritannien
Varighed: 19 nov. 201520 nov. 2015


KonferenceRSA Winther Conference