Interactions between strategic spatial planning and local state in weak institutional settings

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The pressures of globalization have ushered in new supranational and sub-national governance arrangements. Cities and urban regions have been perceived as the optimal spatial units in which local competitive advantages can be cultivated and combined to the benefit of local and, in aggregate, national economic growth. In line with this tendency strategic spatial planning, in its widely accepted theoretical conceptualization, became a terrain for balancing decisions about consolidating a city’s international competiveness and its role in a wider international context. Thus, it emphasized shared responsibilities between the public and the private sector in economies where the roles between the public and the private sphere are visible in their complementarity. In countries with weaker institutional settings such distinctions are purposely obscure as both spheres are enmeshed in statist and rent-seeking structures. Often in these contexts strategic planning has been principally connected with an external necessity of Europeanizing of planning policies. Based on an investigation of the strategic spatial plans endorsed in the past 15 years in the city of Thessaloniki, the present paper attempts to explain the specificities and the failures of strategic spatial planning in the Greek institutional environment in the context of four defining features of the Greek local state: the centralization of the Greek government, the financing arrangements of the local government, the nature of the local institutional interlocutors and stakeholders and the political economy privileging consumption over the production of internationally competitive goods and services which would necessitate the marshalling of location-specific assets by the local state.
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Definite Space – Fuzzy Responsibility, Prague, 13-16th July, 2015
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