International Handbook of Urban Policy, Volume 2

International Handbook of Urban Policy, Volume 2

Issues in the Developed World

Elgar original reference

Edited by H. S. Geyer

This Handbook brings together a range of viewpoints on a number of the burning issues affecting urban sustainability in North America and Europe at the beginning of the 21st century. H.S. Geyer and his contributors cover a wide spectrum of the urban policy issues that determine the growth and development progress as well as the livability of cities in the Occident.

Chapter 8: Spatial Planning and Institutional Design: What Can We Expect From Transaction Cost Economics?

F. Moulaert and A. Mehmood

Subjects: politics and public policy, public policy, urban and regional studies, urban studies


F. Moulaert and A. Mehmood1 1. Introduction Prominent planners such as John Friedmann (1987), Patsy Healey (1999) and Ernest Alexander (2005) have repeatedly underscored the importance of the relationships between planning and institutions. Yet these relationships are manifold and complex, and the ways they are read and interpreted in the literature are often contradictory. Distancing ourselves from line-by-line exegesis, we note the following important views on these relationships – among many more: ● ● ● ● Planning occurs within an institutional context. Both planning agendas and planning procedures should fit that context: otherwise they become unattainable utopias leading to disillusion and few, if any, planning outcomes. If an institutional context hampers planning agendas, it should be changed. Planners should ally themselves with other ‘public’ actors and work together towards the transformation of institutional contexts. Institutions should be transformed to benefit human development. Planners should design new institutional forms that serve this purpose. This can be done through negotiation and social transaction. Institutional transformation cannot be designed. Of course, planners should have ideas of which institutional levers are needed to implement planning agendas, but, in the end, institutional transformations are the outcome of the interaction between collective action and societal development. These four views of relationships between planning and institutions are not an ad hoc selection, nor do they fit a systematic typology. They refer to three questions in particular: (1) In what way do institutions (not) catalyse planning agendas and agencies? (2) Can planners change or create institutions in order to make planning more effective...

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