2.12 - Territorial Policies and Institutional Innovation: The Case of Inter-Municipal Cooperation

Project Description

The aim of the dissertation is to contribute to the evaluation of the role of territorial policies in diffusing institutional innovations related with inter-municipal cooperation. It will analyze, in particular, the role of 'territorial coalitions' in the design and delivery of territorial policies with transversal and strategic effects.

The targeted territory is Oporto Metropolitan Region, comprising the 16 municipalities of Oporto Metropolitan Area and the neighbouring sub-regions of Sousa Valley and Medium-Ave Valley. This region faces high levels of physical and institutional fragmentation, posing increased spatial planning challenges. The coexistence of different urban patterns, including a large urban agglomeration, several medium-sized towns and "dispersed" urbanisation, makes it an interesting area of research in relation to inter-municipal cooperation. The dissertation includes a systematic comparison between Oporto Metropolitan Region experiences and similar Italian experiences, in order to expand the knowledge about the relationships between spatial planning at inter-municipal scale and their correspondent institutional settings.

The first part of the thesis is concerned with the most recent theoretical developments in territorial governance and the building of institutional capacities at inter-municipal level. The debate will be focused on the processes of promoting and coordinating integrated spatial policies, in contexts of high territorial and institutional fragmentation.

The case studies include several territorial governance experiences, such as the emergence of different kinds of inter-municipal institutions and new instruments of territorial policy development programs, particularly the Ave Valley Integrated Development Operation, the PROSIURB programme and the Sousa Valley Territorial Pact for Employment. Accompanying the emergence of these new instruments, the formal spatial planning system also faced significant transformations. These experiences are compared with similar events ocurred in Italy, particularly in the regions of Campania, Emilia-Romagna and Veneto.

The final part of the thesis will be concerned with the relevance of these programmes as learning instruments, capable of encouraging a cooperative culture that can survive the experiences themselves, and contributing to the construction of new 'territorial coalitions' in the region. We intend to evaluate the role of these experiences in overcoming some of the most significant outcomes of spatial and institutional fragmentation, and in boosting relational competences among the different territorial agents at local level.

Research Team
  • Carlos Oliveira
  • Isabel Breda Vázquez (supervisor)
Financial Support
  • FEUP
Stage of Progress
  • Concluded in 2011


Scientific Papers

  • Oliveira, C; Breda-Vázquez, I (2012) "Scale and Europeanization in Portugal and Italy: a cross-national comparison of territorial policies", Policy & Politics 40(1) , pp 87-103

Papers in Proceedings of Scientific Meetings

  • Oliveira, C.; Breda-Vázquez, I. (2009) "Inter-municipal coordination and spatial planning: a cross-national comparison between Portugal, France and Italy", in CITTA 2nd Annual Conference on Planning Research 15 May, Porto, Portugal , pp 385-399
  • Breda-Vázquez, I; Oliveira, C (2005) "Entre Desafios Gerais e Problemas Locais: a infra-estrutura institucional e o planeamento da Área Metropolitana do Porto", in Porto Cidade Região - Encontro de Reflexão Prospectiva, Actas de Conferência 11-13 February, Porto, Portugal