Date and location

  •   November 29, 2018 - November 30, 2018
  •   University of the West of Scotland, Paisley, Scotland, UK

Conference details

Call for Papers – Deadline 31 August

Please send Paper proposals (500 words) to: Arno van der Zwet at

The main objective of the Regional Economic and Policy History Network (REHI) is to explore what a historic perspective may contribute to regional studies as well as current regional policy-making, and how approaches and methodologies used by historians can be better integrated in the regional studies. This fifth and final workshop of the network will examine multi-level policy implementation from an urban perspective and place this within a historic context. It will provide insights into how urban actors involved in economic development policy have over time responded to the changing nature of policy frameworks at the regional, national and European level.

Multi-level policy implementation has received major scholarly attention over the past three decades. In particular, European integration provided a strong impetus for the development of new levels of government which linked to the policy process at the supra-national, national, regional and local level. There is no shortage of concepts which aim to capture policy making relations between different levels of government but one of the most influential ones has been multi-level governance. Moreover, multi-level governance has entered the lexicon of policy-makers. In fact, it has been adopted to such an extent that the integration of vertical and horizontal responsibilities of policy-making process has arguably become the established normative paradigm. Consequently, the current literature stresses that over the last decades there has been an almost linear process of increased vertical and horizontal integration of policy-making responsibilities.

There are some important limitations to the current literature and debates concerning multi-level governance. For one, the main concern of the multi-level governance literature is the relation between the European, national and regional level, with some notable exceptions, the local (urban) level has received much less attention. Furthermore, most of the work provides an analysis of formal structures and relations whereas informal multi-level relations can have a major impact. A historical approach can be instrumental in terms of providing insights into these dimensions of multi-level governance.

This workshop invites papers that take a bottom up perspective of multi-level governance by focusing on the role of local level in urban economic development. The aim of the workshop is to examine responsibilities, frameworks and relations taking a longer term focus, inviting particularly micro perspectives of multi-level governance that focus on how urban actors and structures respond to economic development policy changes at the regional, national and European level that impact urban development. The following guiding questions can be considered as the basis for the workshop.

  1. What has historically been the role of the urban level in multi-level policy frameworks for urban economic development?
  • How has the role of urban actors in relation economic development developed over time?
  • How has access and influence of the urban/local level authorities to ‘higher’ levels of government changed over time?
  • How have the responsibilities of urban actors in relation to urban economic development changed?
  1. What has been the impact of changes in governance arrangements?
  2. What does a micro perspective of historic processes offer to our understanding of the development of multi-level governance?
  3. What does a historic perspective contribute to current policy debates regarding multi-level policy-making?

The rationale for the workshop is to bring together original contributions from multiple disciplines but that take a historic perspective. We in particular invite papers from social and cultural geographers, political scientists and economists who include historical perspectives in their work economic as well as historians, political historians, regional historians, socio-economic historians working on urban development issues and researchers who focus on territorial policy history. We also welcome contributions from policymakers that have a specific academic interests in this topic.

The network also invites papers from doctoral or early career researchers and has limited funding available to assist with travel and accommodation expenses. Please indicate in your submission if you wish to make use of this funding.

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University of the West of Scotland, Paisley, Scotland, UK