Communicative Strategic Planning and Partnership in Practice – Challenges Regarding Participation and Network Building
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The municipals have the last 50 years been an instrument for the Norwegian state in building the welfare state. During this period a division has evolved between regional and local strategic planning, and national welfare implementation planning that often have no connection to local and regional strategies at all. The Norwegian parliament has decided a new role for the county as the major public regional development organisation. On municipal level Norway have 435 municipals but also 161 labour and housing regions, 65 of these consists of only one municipal. There is an ongoing political debate on national level to reduce the number of municipals and to develop a two tier system without a “political county”. What can the concequences be form such a restructuring for local and regional development planning and collaboration? Built on communicative and collaborative planning theories (Healey 1997, Sager 1994) and the Norwegian model for regional communicative strategic planning (Amdam and Amdam 2000), I focus on the consequences that a change of municipal structure can have on: a. Partnership structures and capability for regional development b. Mobilisation and participative processes regarding regional development planning The capability to respond to regional challenges is a lot higher in regional municipals then in regions where municipals tries to cooperate and coordinate their development activities in regional public partnerships – challenges and crisis must be a lot higher before one react commonly. But it is difficult to generalise from findings in central and urban regions to regions with a different geographical structure and history. One has no guarantee that a restructuring to one municipal in peripheral regions automatically will give a higher capability. If there are little trust between communities, interest groups etc. and no common understanding, visions and identity are developed, but different groups compete with no consensus developing, it will be very difficult for the new big municipal to reach political agreements for regional development and to collaborate with partners within and outside the region.