“There is no way of speaking logically about this mess”: The impact of actor-relational dynamics on integrated planning practice

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The non-linear complexities of urban development processes exceed the understanding of any individual. Consequently, more actors are entering planning processes for enabling the synergy of multiple knowledges, simultaneously increasing their internal complexities. These complex dynamics contest the everyday planning practice from within, requiring increased awareness of their possible consequences. Planning research has acknowledged that the actor-relational aspects of planning processes are not yet adequately understood, calling for methods to reveal the often-invisible dynamics and their possible effects over time. This research aims at revealing the social complexities of integrated planning processes and recentering the understanding on the actor relational level by focusing on the aspects of knowledge co-creation and process memory development. A practice-based example of the actual actor-relational dynamics is explored with mixed methods and detailed longitudinal data of an actual four-year strategic spatial planning process in the Nordic context. The findings indicate that a range of actor-relational dynamics affects the level of sectoral and scalar integration over time, and social complexities carry an essential role for enabling knowledge co-creation and process memory development within integrated planning practice. Unveiling the actor-relational dynamics is a promising research direction, requiring new methods for bridging research and practice.
planning practice, organizational learning, strategic spatial planning, integrated planning