chapter  17
28 Pages

Territorial knowledge channels: Contexts for ‘situated learning’

ByNEIL ADAMS, GIANCARLO COTELLA, RICHARD NUNES

A knowledge perspective in the development of spatial policies in Europe The evidence presented in the different contributions illustrates how the interface of knowledge and policy development constitutes an issue of pivotal importance. The diverse mechanisms for the transmission of knowledge into the policy process are situated at this interface and depend on the interaction of a complex set of knowledge and power logics. The conceptualization of this interplay (cf. Adams et al. Chapter 2) has stressed the need for a broader exploration of the extent of engagement or of the nature and character of the links within and between diverse communities of actors with particular emphasis on the close relationship between knowledge and interests. Incidentally, this book has taken a path emerging within planning and, more broadly, in public policy research circles, which focuses on knowledge (inclusive of research) as data, ideas, argument and persuasion (Weiss 1986, Majone 1989). Departing from Haas’ (1992) definition and usage of the concept of ‘epistemic communities’, with its particular emphasis on the ‘usable knowledge’ (Haas 2004) made possible through internal ‘validity checks’ of the shared knowledge base among expert professionals, we have emphasized the need to broaden the spectrum of participating stakeholders through the additional consideration of extra-community links (cf. Haas 1990; Radaelli 1999; Zito 2001a, 2001b; Waterhout Chapter 4). This immediately raises the complex issue of the competing institutional and discursive logics of ‘reality tests’ (Haas 1990) or ‘knowledge claims’ (Rydin 2007), which has led to the adoption of a knowledge perspective in consideration of other communities of actors such as ‘advocacy coalitions’ and ‘communities of practice’ under the concept of territorial knowledge communities. This preliminary consideration has taken the agent interactivity implicit in these different communities to be the products of coordinated activity in the form of networks, seminars, conferences and meetings, which can help to institutionalize activities through the establishment of new routines. At the same time, these processes may lay new foundations for questioning established beliefs or values, or policy stability as precursors of policy change, exploring what this represents in terms of the confluence of, and tensions between evidence-based causal beliefs and value judgments in policy context-sensitive settings. More importantly, it is also the agent interactivity across these territorial knowledge communities whereby a member of a community of practice can simultaneously have a role in advocacy or the validation of knowledge within other networks or communities in a multi-jurisdictional policy environment (cf. Figure 2.2, Table 2.1). This is particularly relevant to the spatio-temporal context of this book; that is, the turning points created by EU enlargement for both the contexts of diverse spatial planning approaches in Europe and the evolving

context of European spatial planning, which have generated new ‘policy windows’ (Kingdon 1995) in the European territorial governance arena (cf. Adams et al. Chapter 2; Waterhout Chapter 4; Pallagst 2006 and Chapter 6). Both the described knowledge perspective and this consideration of agent interactivity provide impetus to the suggested notion of knowledge resources and its generation and mobilization through arenas whereby knowledge is validated and verified, or debated. As outlined in Chapter 2, the intersection of these two entities is a consideration therefore of both ‘knowledge and information’ and ‘power and preferences’ as key variables of the understanding of policy change, and/or investigations into the extent to which institutional and organizational forces take on the powers to shape or frame policy (cf. Adams et al. Chapter 2 and Conzelman 1998 on ‘knowledge’ and ‘conflict’ models). In other words, how, when and to what extent territorial knowledge communities engage with different knowledge arenas to advance, inform or legitimize policy agendas or approaches (‘policy images’, cf. Chapter 2) through the strategic use of knowledge resources. The knowledge conduits or ‘transmission belts’ (Haas 2004) through which knowledge is generated and mobilized can be found at the intersection of knowledge resources and knowledge arenas, or territorial knowledge channels in our terminology (cf. Adams et al. Chapter 2). These territorial knowledge channels manifest themselves as either formal or informal multi-scalar institutional arrangements of European territorial governance and take the form of advisory boards, committees, working groups and coalitions. They constitute the confluence of diverse territorial knowledge communities with varying degrees of influence, which press for stability and change in policy development with evidence-based causal beliefs, and/or value-based and ‘evidence-informed’ argument (Davoudi 2006) (cf. Figure 2.1). This consideration of the potential links within and between territorial knowledge communities, of consensual/disputed or absent knowledge bases and shared/unshared interests, has clear implications for how different knowledge arenas link with the ‘hard’ regulatory spaces of planning systems, and the ‘soft spaces’ of territorial governance beyond the geographical and professional boundaries of these systems. This implies that territorial knowledge channels can take on sub-national, national or supranational characteristics as well as more complex multi-level or cross-scalar forms, which are subject to both formal and informal institutional influences that may both enable and constrain the creation, transformation and destruction of these channels. It is important to stress that the proposed knowledge perspective is also sensitive to temporal and socio-cultural elements. On the one hand, the influence of these territorial knowledge channels is likely to be highest when new policy windows emerge, evoking responses from a diverse range of actors on particular policy areas or issues. On the other hand, the attitude and capacity of domestic actors to consolidate particular policy areas or issues may foster or hamper their ability to identify or create the appropriate knowledge arenas through which they can access or convey knowledge resources as well as take part in testing and

validating knowledge and scrutinizing the rules of policy evaluation. Several contributors have suggested that the policy windows opened as a result of the latest EU enlargements have significantly influenced the evolution of spatial planning in the former candidate countries (cf. Finka Chapter 5; Pallagst Chapter 6; Maier Chapter 11), through the introduction of EU-inspired elements within domestic legislative frameworks (cf. Finka Chapter 5; Marot Chapter 8; Dąbrowski Chapter 9) and contextual discourses (cf. Kule et al. Chapter 12; Capik Chapter 13; Czapiewski and Janc Chapter 14), and through the adoption of ideas and approaches transferred from old Member States (cf. Capik Chapter 13; Stead and Nadin Chapter 7). At the same time, the ‘weak and fragmented character’ of territorial knowledge communities in CEE countries (Maier Chapter 11) appears to have hampered the emergence of an ‘Eastern European perspective’ within the European spatial planning discourse (cf. Janin Rivolin and Faludi 2005; Cotella 2007a, 2009a). A more ambiguous but less pronounced interaction also can be detected between the EU and the Russian Federation (cf. Fritsch Chapter 15 and Razumeyko Chapter 16); although its link to EU enlargement is perhaps more tenuous. Territorial knowledge channels therefore are the products of agent interactivity, spatio-temporal context and socio-cultural influences, and all of these factors potentially have implications for their effectiveness as generators and drivers of knowledge, and as contexts for ‘situated learning’ (Lave and Wenger 1991). In the multi-jurisdictional policy environment of the EU, the resultant learning within internal territorial governance spaces is a function of a large number of dynamic territorial knowledge channels that can stimulate or condition the ‘vertical’, ‘horizontal’ and ‘circular’ processes of Europeanization (cf. Adams et al. Chapter 2; Stead and Nadin Chapter 7); that is, the learning and conflict outcomes influenced by ongoing debates in relation to the simultaneous embrace of, and apprehension and confusion over different rhetoric as well as other institutional constraints. The complexity of this situation is exacerbated when applied to the numerous ‘soft spaces’ of EU territorial governance (cf. Haughton et al. 2010; Haselsberger and Benneworth Chapter 10) and particularly when applied to the external dimension of EU territorial governance (cf. Fritsch Chapter 15). In the next section the evidence presented by the different contributors in relation to the above discussion will be contextualized.