Journal publications

(Full texts available via the DOI-link provided, or alternatively, try my researchgate profile (click here).  If this does not work, then please don't hesitate to ask for a personal copy via email: e.j.meijers@tudelft.nl)


The Metropolitan name game: The pathways to place naming shaping metropolitan regions

Rodrigo V Cardoso, Evert J Meijers

Environment and Planning A (2017)

ABSTRACT - The centrality of metropolitan regions in policy and research does not mean they are perceived by their population as having a meaningful identity. This affects their political legitimacy, economic development prospects and place qualities. However, the ongoing scalar expansion of our spatial attachments creates the potential for a metropolitan identity, which can contribute to a stronger metropolitan region vision. As a component of identity formation, place naming becomes relevant both to represent and construct this scale. This article evaluates the geographical, institutional and social factors that shape naming processes in metropolitan regions undergoing integration. We consider historical examples representing different modes of name formation: New York, Stoke-on-Trent, Budapest, Charleville-Mézières, Metroplex and Thunder Bay. We find that metropolitan toponyms emerge from a nexus of interdependent factors, some of which decisively push naming processes into specific paths, and that such processes reflect the socio-political and cultural contexts shaping metropolitan regions. This provides a framework of questions that metropolitan institutions can consider to envision the names they are more likely to develop.

 

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Stretching the concept of ‘borrowed size’

Evert J Meijers, Martijn J Burger

Urban Studies (2017)

ABSTRACT - ‘Borrowed size’ is an emerging policy concept in several European countries, presenting theoretical potential to explain contemporary urban dynamics unaddressed through conventional urban growth theories that emphasise the role of agglomeration economies. In its original conceptualisation by Alonso, the concept describes and explains the situation that especially smaller cities that are located in a larger ‘megapolitan complex’ do perform better because they have access to agglomeration benefits of larger neighbouring cities. This paper scrutinises the concept of borrowed size, thereby focusing on its conceptualisation and reviewing its empirical justification thus far. Our empirical analyses show that the concept must be stretched in terms of scale and scope to enhance its policy value. Borrowed size occurs when a city possesses urban functions and/or performance levels normally associated with larger cities. This is enabled through interactions in networks of cities across multiple spatial scales. These networks serve as a substitute for the benefits of agglomeration. Theoretically, the borrowed size concept demands a recasting of the geographical foundations of agglomeration theory.

 

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City branding in polycentric urban regions: identification, profiling and transformation in the Randstad and Rhine-Ruhr

Simon Goess, Martin de Jong & Evert J Meijers

European Planning Studies (2016)

ABSTRACT - In polycentric urban regions several distinct cities, none of which is dominant, cooperate and compete with each other to attract inhabitants and firms. In such settings city branding strategies do not solely affect one city, but the entire region. We examined how city branding in the face of ecological modernization, that is, delivering higher added economic value, while lowering environmental impacts, is playing out in the Dutch Randstad and the German Rhine-Ruhr. Our findings show that regional identity formation occurs at the sub-polycentric urban region level, coinciding more with (historical) economic profiles than with planning imaginaries. The Dutch cities profile themselves more along the lines of ecological modernization than their German counterparts. Differences between subregions within each polycentric urban region are also noticeable, where more industrialized regions, such as the Ruhr or southern Randstad focus on ‘green’, ‘liveable’ and ‘knowledge-oriented’, while cities with stronger knowledge-intensive sectors portray themselves as ‘smart’ or ‘sustainable’. Cities generally substantiate their profiles through projects, but a significant gap persists between reality and aspirations for improved environmental conditions. This is especially true for the Dutch cities, where many claims, but little visible action can be observed.

 

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Contrasts between first-tier and second-tier cities in Europe: a functional perspective

Rodrigo V Cardoso, Evert J Meijers

European Planning Studies (2016)

ABSTRACT - Second-tier cities have been experiencing renewed interest within policy and research contexts, which is reversing a tradition of relative neglect due to the long-standing focus on large cities and capitals. This paper compares European second-tier and first-tier cities with regard to the presence of urban functions and how these are spread over their urban regions. The analysis shows the existence of a substantial ‘first city bonus’: a surplus of urban functions in first-tier cities which cannot be explained by their size or network embeddedness. We also show that second-tier cities are better served with urban functions in the absence of a dominant capital. In first-tier urban regions, the core municipality exploits the critical mass of the urban region to support its own functions, leaving that region functionally underserved. Second-tier cities lack this absorptive capacity, and their urban regions are endowed with more urban functions. These functional differences mean that second-tier cities demand a differentiated research and policy approach, in which city-regional integration becomes an important territorial development strategy. Rather than the dispersion process in first-tier cities leading to a ‘regionalization of the city’, integration in second-tier urban regions may be seen as a process of ‘citification of the region’.

 

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Agglomerations and the Rise of Urban Network Externalities

Martijn J Burger, Evert J Meijers

Papers in Regional Science (2016)

 

ABSTRACT - This paper introduces the theme of the special issue ‘Agglomerations and the Rise of Urban Network Externalities’. Urban network externalities are defined as external economies from which firms and households can benefit by being located in agglomerations that are well embedded in networks that connect with other agglomerations. The contributions focus on the conceptualization of urban network externalities and their influence on urban performance. Finally, a research agenda is presented, that should focus on multiplexity and heterogeneity in networks and their impacts; interrelations between agglomerations and networks and their dynamic and place-based nature; and, the policy implications of urban network externalities. 

 

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Borrowing size in networks of cities: City size, network connectivity and metropolitan functions in Europe

Evert J Meijers, Martijn J Burger & Marloes M Hoogerbrugge

Papers in Regional Science (2016)

 

ABSTRACT - The current dynamics in the Western European urban system are in marked contrastwith the bourgeoning literature stressing the importance of agglomeration for economic growth.This paper explores whether this is due to the rise of ‘city network economies’ , leading to pro-cesses of borrowed size as well as the rise of agglomeration shadows in networks of cities. Thespread of metropolitan functions over Western European cities is analysed. It is found that net-work connectivity positively enhances the presence of metropolitan functions, but local size re-mains the most significant determinant for most types of functions. The importance of size andnetwork connectivity differs across metropolitan functions and across cities.

 

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Borrowed Size, Agglomeration Shadows and Cultural Amenities in North-West Europe

Martijn J Burger, Evert J Meijers, Marloes M Hoogerbrugge & Jaume Masip Tresserra

European Planning Studies (2015)

 

 

ABSTRACT - It has been argued that the concept of “borrowed size” is essential to understanding urban patterns and dynamics in North-West Europe. This paper conceptualizes this idea and provides an empirical exploration of it. A place borrows size when it hosts more urban functions than its own size could normally support. A borrowed size for one place means that other places face an “agglomeration shadow” because they host fewer urban functions than they would normally support. This paper explores the extent to which size and function are related for places in North-West Europe and tries to explain why one place borrows size while the other faces an agglomeration shadow by examining the position of places within the regional urban system. The presence of urban functions was approximated using high-end cultural amenities. We conclude that the largest places in their functional urban area (FUA) are better able to exploit their own mass. The largest place in a FUA is also better able to borrow size from nearby places and from (inter)national urban networks than the lower-ranked places. 

 

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City profile: The Hague

Evert J Meijers, Marloes M Hoogerbrugge, Erik Louw, Hugo Priemus & Marjolein Spaans

Cities (2014)

 

 

ABSTRACT - Over the years, the relatively small city of The Hague has come to play an important role on the world stage by establishing itself as the seat of international organisations, particularly in the field of peace and justice. This city profile analyses the ambitions, challenges and policies related to this global positioning of the city, and discusses these within the framework of a more general sketch of the city’s historical development, its social, economic and physical-locational conditions. Particular emphasis is placed on its location in the wider Randstad metropolitan region and how The Hague can borrow size and function from its neighbouring cities to strengthen its global position.

 

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Editorial: The Development and Functioning of Regional Urban Systems

Martijn J Burger, Evert J Meijers, Frank G van Oort

Regional Studies (2014)

 

 

ABSTRACT - This paper introduces a special issue on 'Spatial Dynamics of Regional Cities: New Perspectives' that we guest-edited. Talk, share, and make decisions in open channels across your team, in private groups for sensitive matters, or use direct messages one-to-one. In contemporary spatial planning and policy, a shift to the network model is often seen as a panacea for regional economic development problems. Polycentricity and urban networks have become catchphrases, with polycentric development policies introduced to support territorial cohesion as well as higher levels of urban and regional competitiveness. However, despite this enthusiasm for the ideas of urban networks, polycentricity and spatial integration, previous empirical assessments of the network model leave much to be desired. Apart from the problems presented in the academic literature regarding divergent approaches to conceptualizing and measuring polycentricity, intercity integration in urban networks and metropolization in the academic literature, it remains unclear (1) to what extent urban systems become more polycentric and spatially integrated and (2) whether polycentric, spatially integrated urban systems are more economically efficient than their monocentric and/or non-integrated counterparts. These questions are addressed in the papers included in this special issue.

 

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Multiple Perspectives on Functional Coherence: Heterogeneity and Multiplexity in the Randstad

Martijn J Burger, Evert J Meijers, Frank G van Oort

Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie (2014)

 

 

ABSTRACT - Measuring functional coherence in metropolitan regions, in particular polycentric ones, requires taking the issues of multiplexity and individual level heterogeneity more explicitly into account, as the spatial organisation of functional linkages is not necessarily identical. Based on the analysis of one type of functional linkage a region can appear to be integrated, but loosely connected based on another. We demonstrate the occurrence of multiplexity for the polycentric Dutch Randstad region, and focus particularly on the presence of individual level heterogeneity. Commuting patterns in the Randstad are strongly related to socio-demographic variables and firm characteristics largely determine the scale of buyer-supplier relationships. We present studies into functional coherence in the Randstad, and assess whether methods, including the interlocking network model, are sufficiently capable of accounting for multiplexity and individual level heterogeneity.

 

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Twin Cities in the Process of Metropolisation

Evert J Meijers, Marloes M Hoogerbrugge, Koen Hollander

Urban Research & Practice (2014)

 

 

ABSTRACT - Metropolisation is understood here as the process through which a loose collection of proximally located cities starts to become more functionally, culturally and institutionally integrated. It can be assumed that in theory metropolisation enhances performance, and indeed this conviction underlies many European metropolitan development strategies. Yet little is known about how this potential is realised in practice. This paper explores the process of metropolisation in three European ‘twin cities’: Linköping–Norrköping (Sweden), Rotterdam–The Hague (Netherlands) and Gdansk–Gdynia (Poland). We find preliminary evidence that metropolisation is an upward spiral of integration in which policy-makers play an active role.

 

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Regional Spatial Structure and Retail amenities in the Netherlands

Martijn J Burger, Evert J Meijers, Frank G van Oort

Regional Studies (2014)

 

 

ABSTRACT - This paper examines how the presence of retail amenities in Dutch regions is dependent on their spatial structure. Retail amenities, in particular those specialized retail functions that require a large urban support base, are less found in more polycentric and more dispersed regions. This can be explained by the observation that in polycentric and dispersed regions the degree of market fragmentation is higher as a result of more intense regional competition and spacing between retail centres. Evidence is found for ways to overcome the lack of agglomeration benefits in more polycentric and more dispersed regions. Both concentration of retail and more complementarities between cities' retail amenities may make up for the disadvantages of regions being polycentric or dispersed. These findings provide a rationale to coordinate regionally specialized retailing in polycentric and dispersed regions.

 

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Changes subsequent to infrastructure investments: Forecasts, expectations and ex-post situation

Erik Louw, Martijn Leijten, Evert Meijers

Transport Policy (2013)

 

 

ABSTRACT - The effects of investments in infrastructure on local and regional economic development have long been the subject of scientific debate. An issue in this debate is whether the construction of new infrastructure between core and peripheral regions induces economic benefits in these regions or not. Most of the studies that assess these benefits are ex-ante forecasts, whereas far less ex-post studies are known.

In this paper we contribute to this debate by analysing the ex-ante and ex-post effects of the Westerscheldertunnel in the Netherlands which opened in 2003. This analysis was possible because various ex-ante studies about the effects of the tunnel were made before it was opened. Also, after the opening some surveys were held (including one by the authors). The analysis shows that changes subsequent to the opening of the Westerscheldetunnel are relatively small. This is in line with existing literature on similar cases. However, the ex-ante studies did forecast larger effects, particularly an increase in employment. Also, the effects that businesses expected were different from what they experienced. Their expectations were either too pessimistic or too positive.

 

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Fixed link, fixed effects? Housing market outcomes of new infrastructure development in the Dutch Delta Area

Evert J Meijers, Joris Hoekstra, Marjolein Spaans

Geografisk Tidsskrift-Danish Journal of Geography (2013)

 

 

ABSTRACT - This paper assesses the relationship between infrastructure development and housing market development, thereby focusing on major new infrastructure linking previously separate housing markets. This is often the case when bridges or tunnels provide for new connections in island regions or delta areas. Empirical evidence is presented for a case in the Netherlands: the construction of the Westerschelde Tunnel. This tunnel resulted in rather dramatic changes in accessibility and centrality. The tunnel connects the previously separate central and peripheral housing markets of southern Zeeland, and turns out to have a different impact on both areas. On the basis of the hedonic regression method, we found – quite unexpectedly and in marked contrast with the literature – that the increased accessibility in the more central region led to an increase in house prices, whereas increased accessibility in the more peripheral region subdued the house prices, all other things being equal. This was not due to less demand for houses in the periphery compared to the centre, but rather due to qualitative differences in demand. Households which moved to the centre were comparatively younger, more active in the labour market and more often included children.

 

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Connecting the Periphery: Distributive effects of new infrastructure

Evert J Meijers,  Joris Hoekstra, Martijn Leijten, Erik Louw, Marjolein Spaans

Journal of Transport Geography (2012)

 

 

ABSTRACT - Studies addressing the spatial economic development effects of infrastructure generally focus on estimating generative effects at aggregated spatial scales. However, such effects may often hide a distributive effect, which occurs when one part of a region grows faster or at the expense of another part. This paper distinguishes distributive accessibility effects and distributive centre–periphery effects. The pattern of such distributive effects is explored for the new (2003) tunnel under the Westerschelde estuary in the Netherlands, which links a central region with a peripheral region. The tunnel led to dramatic changes in accessibility since it replaced car ferries that operated at quite a distance from the tunnel. Our ex-post analyses explore whether employment and population have redistributed following the opening of the tunnel. Increased accessibility led to employment decline in the centre, and to slight growth in the periphery. In particular, the tunnel enabled a process of rationalization of employment in the non-commercial services sector. For population, we found that the new fixed link led to stronger population growth in the centre. Especially people aged 20–40 moved out of the periphery. Within the periphery, households with children relocated from areas that had become relatively less accessible to areas that had become more accessible. Hence, our study emphasizes the importance of geographical, sectoral and demographic detail in studies of the social and economic impacts of transport infrastructure.

 

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Form Follows Function? Linking Morphological and Functional Polycentricity

Martijn Burger, Evert J Meijers

Urban Studies (2012)

 

 

ABSTRACT - Empirical research establishing the costs and benefits that can be associated with polycentric urban systems is often called for but rather thin on the ground. In part, this is due to the persistence of what appear to be two analytically distinct approaches in understanding and measuring polycentricity: a morphological approach centring on nodal features and a functional approach focused on the relations between centres. Informed by the oft-overlooked but rich heritage of urban systems research, this paper presents a general theoretical framework that links both approaches and discusses the way both can be measured and compared in a coherent manner. Using the Netherlands as a test case, it is demonstrated that most regions tend to be more morphologically polycentric than functionally polycentric. The difference is largely explained by the size, external connectivity and degree of self-sufficiency of a region’s principal centre.

 

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Spatial Structure and Productivity in U.S. Metropolitan Areas

Evert J Meijers, Martijn Burger

Environment and Planning A (2010)

 

 

ABSTRACT - Recent concepts such as ‘megaregions' and ‘polycentric urban regions' emphasize that external economies are not confined to a single urban core, but are shared among a collection of nearby and linked cities. However, empirical analyses of agglomeration and agglomeration externalities have so far neglected the multicentric spatial organization of agglomeration and the possibility of the ‘sharing’ or ‘borrowing’ of size between cities. The authors take up this empirical challenge by analyzing how different spatial structures, in particular the monocentricity–polycentricity dimension, affect the economic performance of US metropolitan areas. Ordinary least squares and two-stage least-squares models explaining labor productivity show that spatial structure matters: polycentricity is associated with higher labor productivity. This appears to justify suggestions that, compared with more monocentric metropolitan areas, agglomeration diseconomies remain relatively limited in the more polycentric metropolitan areas, whereas agglomeration externalities are to some extent shared among the cities in such an area. However, it was also found that a network of geographically proximate smaller cities cannot substitute for the urbanization externalities of a single large city.

 

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Spatial Planning and Policy Integration: Concepts, Facilitators and Inhibitors

Dominic Stead, Evert J Meijers

Planning Theory & Practice (2009)

 

 

ABSTRACT - While the concept of policy integration is not a new idea within spatial planning discourse, it is becoming increasingly prevalent. Frequently, however, the term is used without any clear definition of what it means, or how it might be achieved. The aim of this paper is to provide more clarity about the concept and to identify the types of actions in the field of planning where integration with policy can be improved. In so doing, the paper assembles a range of material from different disciplines, and identifies some of the key inhibitors and facilitators of policy integration.

 

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Summing small cities does not make a Large City: Polycentric urban regions and the provision of cultural, leisure and sports amenities

Evert J Meijers

Urban Studies (2008)

 

 

ABSTRACT - The paper explores whether a polycentric urban region can reap the advantages of its combined urban size to a similar extent as a similar-sized monocentric city-region. This question is elaborated for the provision of cultural, leisure and sports amenities. Their presence in 42 Dutch regions is expressed in an index, which serves as the dependent variable in a multiple regression model. An explaining variable is the extent of polycentricity of a region. Correcting for differences between regions in terms of population size, the number of visitors and average income, it turns out that the more polycentric a region is, the fewer cultural, leisure and sports amenities are present. Conversely, the more monocentric a region, the more such amenities.

 

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Stein’s ‘Regional City’-concept revisited: Critical mass and complementarity in contemporary urban networks

Evert J Meijers

Town Planning Review (2008)

 

 

ABSTRACT - Many decades after its conception, Stein's famous concept of the Regional City appears to be more alive then ever before. Unwittingly, the integrated development of a cluster of close-by cities has become a core issue in national and regional strategic planning, although the label 'urban network' is more common than 'Regional City' for such a cluster. In terms of ideal spatial organisation, both concepts are similar. The main assumptions in this respect are that the support base or critical mass in a polycentric cluster of cities is equivalent to that of a similar-sized monocentric city. Also, these close-by cities are assumed to complement each other in terms of urban functions. This article explores whether these assumptions hold true. It was found that for Dutch Wet Gemeenschappelijke Regelingen (WGR) regions the polycentric ones provide less support for amenities than monocentric regions, and that this was true even for those regions that are more complementary. The implications of these findings for the regional planning of such a cluster of cities are discussed.

 

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Measuring polycentricity and its promises

Evert J Meijers

European Planning Studies (2008)

 

 

ABSTRACT - Even a decade after the concept of polycentric development became popular and increasingly widespread in Europe as a normative policy stance allegedly leading to cohesion and competitiveness, its empirical basis is still rather weak. This is partly due to a lack of conceptual clearness, which makes its measurement difficult. This research briefing synthesises the results of two recent ESPON projects that aim to create a quantitative measurement of the extent of polycentricity of national urban systems, as well as the links they find between polycentricity and economic and social objectives. Both approaches have their limits and have been, and can be criticized from various perspectives. Some suggestions on how to proceed with this research agenda are presented.

 

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Strategic planning for city networks; the emergence of a Basque ‘Global City’?

Evert J Meijers, Joris Hoekstra, Ricardo Aguado

International Planning Studies (2008)

 

 

ABSTRACT - Throughout Europe, policy-makers recognize the development potentials of regions in which multiple cities are located close to each other. However, developing synergies among these cities requires networking to optimize the critical mass and exploit complementarities. Much is expected of spatial planning in terms of fostering networks. However, little is known about the actual contribution planning may have in developing city networks, in particular, since it involves planning on a new scale and based upon new starting points and objectives. Exemplary is the territorial development strategy (1990s) of the Basque country aimed at developing the networking among its three main cities (Bilbao, San Sebastian and Vitoria) to develop a Basque ‘Global City’. We find that the leverage of this planning strategy has been poor, due to strong local identities and the lack of regional organizing capacity. This also appears to be common for other polycentric regions.

 


 


Reducing regional disparities by means of polycentric development: panacea or placebo? 

Evert J Meijers, Krister Sandberg

Scienze Regionali; Italian journal of regional science (2008)

 

 

ABSTRACT -  In many territorial development strategies, both at the European and national scale, it is suggested that polycentric development is instrumental in reducing regional disparities. However, this widespread assumption lacks empirical justification, while also its theoretical base is weak. The aim of this paper is twofold. First, it explores the theoretical bases of the assumed relation between a country’s urban system and regional disparities. Second, it tests the hypothesis that countries with a relatively polycentric national urban system are characterised by fewer regional disparities than are more monocentric countries. Evidence points in the opposite direction to what is generally expected: the more polycentric a country, the larger its regional disparities. This calls for critical reflection on the value of polycentric development as a concept to bring about cohesion.

 

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Clones or Complements? The division of labour between the main cities of the Randstad, the Flemish Diamond and the RheinRuhr Area

Evert J Meijers

Regional Studies (2007)

 

 

ABSTRACT - In the contemporary debate on the spatial organization of urban regions, much emphasis is placed on the development of polycentric urban patterns on a variety of spatial scales. Polycentric development at the intra-urban scale of the polycentric city implies an unfolding of a spatial division of labour between the centres. This paper analyses whether on the inter-urban scale of polycentric urban regions such a trend towards complementarity can also be found. Opposing trends occur, however, as the division of labour in service sector activities between the main cities of some prime examples of polycentric urban regions is diminishing.

 

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From central place to network model: Theory and evidence of a paradigm change

Evert J Meijers

Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie (2007)

 

 

ABSTRACT - While the deficiencies of the central place model have often been highlighted, no other paradigm has replaced it. However, recently some researchers have hinted at the development of a new model of spatial organisation, a network model. This model would hold most in polycentric urban regions. This paper discusses the features of this network model in comparison with the central place model. Moreover, it explores whether this model describes spatial reality better, thereby focusing on complementarity, a main feature of the model. The relationships within multi-location hospitals and universities of professional education (hogescholen), which spread their offer of care and study programmes over multiple, close-by cities, are analysed for this reason. Within the hospital care sector there is a clear trend towards complementarity, in line with the network model. The hogescholen sector provides a more ambiguous picture. The network model, however, still seems more appropriate than the central place model.

 

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Closing the gap: territorial cohesion through polycentric development

Evert J Meijers, Bas Waterhout, Wil Zonneveld

European Journal of Spatial Development (2007)

 

 

ABSTRACT - This article discusses and analyses national polycentric development policies aiming at cohesion. Due to its insertion in the 1999 European Spatial Development Perspective ‘polycentricity’ has become an important concept in discussions on Europe’s territorial and economic development. Its content remains however rather unclear. This paper contributes to the discussion on the meaning of polycentricity by looking at national polycentric development policies. These policies can be distinguished according to two types of disparities, or gaps, which they try to bridge. The first concerns the gap between different levels of the national urban hierarchy, the most common being the gap between a primate capital city and the next category of cities. The second gap is the one between cities located in regions with diverging rates of socio-economic development. On the basis of a conceptual and quantitative discussion of these gaps a basic definition is presented of what polycentric development policies are about: policies that address the distribution of economic and/or economically relevant functions over the urban system in such a way that the urban hierarchy is flattened in a territorially balanced way. A discussion of the polycentric development policies of France, Poland and Germany illustrates our findings. The article concludes that for the period 2007-2013 – the new EU budget period – a clear synergy is needed between EU and national policies and that without such synergy policies cannot be effective.

 

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Polycentric development policies in European countries: An Introduction

Evert J Meijers, Bas Waterhout, Wil Zonneveld

Built Environment (2005)

 

 

ABSTRACT - In summary, this special issue reveals some of the variety in current policies aimed at polycentric urban development at national and regional levels. There are certain commonalities though. The final paper by Waterhout, Zonneveld and Meijers reviews and compares national polycentric development policies, covering the entire ESPON study area and therefore also discussing countries not treated individually in this special issue. This final article presents general findings on the objectives, the instrumental equipment and working practices, and embeddedness of polycentric development policies in general. Moreover, it highlights some prominent issues, debates and dilemmas faced when developing polycentric development strategies at the national and also European level.

 

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Polycentric development policies in Europe: Overview and debate

Bas Waterhout, Evert Meijers, Wil Zonneveld

Built Environment (2005)

 

 

ABSTRACT - The way the novel concept of polycentric development is used across Europe resembles a general pattern of diffusion of innovation: new ideas emerge at many different places simultaneously. However there are many different opinions about precisely what polycentric development is. What will be made clear in this paper is that the concept of polycentric development brings together two conflicting perceptions of spatial-economic development, namely cohesion and competitiveness.

 

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Polycentric Urban Regions and the Quest for Synergy: is a Network of Cities More than the Sum of the Parts?

Evert J Meijers

Urban Studies (2005)

 

 

ABSTRACT - Polycentric urban regions, or urban networks, are often associated with the notion of synergy, the assumption being that the individual cities in these collections of distinct but proximally located cities relate to each other in a synergetic way, making the whole network of cities more than the sum of its parts. Drawing on economic network theories, an analysis of the presence of synergy is carried out for the Randstad region in the Netherlands, which is often considered a classic example of a polycentric urban region. The analysis focuses on the synergy mechanisms of co-operation and in particular complementarity. The results are mixed. In terms of co-operation, the Randstad has become more synergetic. However, the less complementary economic roles of the cities caused a reverse effect.

 

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Realizing potential: building regional organizing capacity in polycentric urban regions

Evert J Meijers, Arie Romein

European Urban and Regional Studies (2003)

 

 

ABSTRACT - Regional planning for and in polycentric urban regions may entail certain competitive potentialities over a stand-alone development of their individual cities or city-regions. These potentialities relate to the pooling of resources, complementarities and spatial diversity. It seems that planners are increasingly aware of these potentialities as in several European countries attempts are made to identify such polycentric regional systems of formerly independent and distinct cities that are located close to each other, often building on increasing functional relationships between them. This article argues, however, that in order actually to exploit the theoretical potential planning for polycentric urban regions has, one needs to do more than just identify a polycentric system on the map. Rather, an active building of regional organizing capacity is needed - that is, the ability to regionally co-ordinate developments through a more or less institutionalized framework of co-operation, debate, negotiation and decision-making in pursuit of interests at the regional scale - to shape a polycentric urban region's competitive advantages. This need for regional organizing capacity may sound obvious, but in practice successful examples of proclaimed polycentric urban regions developing networks for regional co-ordination and action are rather thin on the ground. Basing our argument on evidence from four polycentric urban regions in North West Europe, it was found that the building of regional organizing capacity is conditioned by a number of spatialfunctional, political-institutional and cultural factors. Major constraints in the examined regions include institutional fragmentation, an internal orientation of key persons and the lack of identification with the region at large.

 

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