CfP Knowledge, Policymaking and Learning in European Metropolitan Areas: Experiences and Approaches


The local capacity to auto-regulate internal conflicts, to avoid (under-)development lock-in and to react to external stimuli is a fundamental challenge for social learning, (multi-level) governance and, in general, local policymaking (Armitage, 2007; Garmendia and Stagl, 2010; Hooghe and Marks, 2003). In this perspective, the idea of ‘knowledge for innovation’ moves beyond the traditional definition of “R&D activities” for technological and market-oriented innovation (Moulaert and Nussbaumer, 2005). The notion of learning region (Hassink, 2005; Lorenzen, 2001; Morgan, 1997; Moulaert and Sekia, 2003) has emerged since the early 1990s, recognising that knowledge is produced, validated, exchanged, translated, and applied in specific territorial contexts where tacit knowledge, local untraded interdependencies and cumulative learning process become key aspects (Antonelli and Quéré, 2002; Gertler, 2003; Storper, 1997). However, a territorial perspective on knowledge for policy learning is still an under-explored dimension.

In the current European political debate the notion of ‘resilience’ has attracted major attention to analyse the territorial capacity to resist and/or recover from economic shocks (Boschma, 2015). From this debate, an emerging issue is the local capacity to promote policy changes, so as to address evolving grand societal challenges through a place-based approach. We propose to focus on policymaking capacities in European metropolitan areas as a key dimension in this process. At the local level, knowledge is a scarce resource in comparison to larger scales, such as national and European ones, where many, and varied, actors are involved. On the other hand, large urban areas are known to be the centre of supra-local knowledge networks, where many producers, users and ‘intermediaries’ are located such as universities, public administrations and emerging players acting as ‘brokers’. This opens a policy challenge to finding effective ways to develop knowledge that is ‘useful’ and ‘usable’ for policymaking and learning.


 The objective of the workshop is to explore the capacity for policymaking in European metropolitan areas with a focus on the role of knowledge for policy learning. Specifically, our interest is in local conditions supportive to collective learning in order to more effectively address grand societal challenges, external stimuli (e.g. the current economic crisis, climate change, and other shocks), and internal conflicts between actors, as well as promoting local reflexivity. The knowledge available locally, the receptivity of public administrations and policymakers towards exogenous cognitive sources, and the capacity to locally re-combine different forms of knowledge, all are fundamental factors in enhancing policy change and learning (Bathelt et al., 2004; Bathelt and Turi, 2011; Escribano et al., 2009; Malmberg and Maskell, 2006). Are European metropolitan areas able to develop knowledge for policymaking and learning? What are the critical factors? What are the effects of downscaling from the national/European scale to the local level where knowledge is a scarce resource (Capano, 2009; Hall, 1993; Krause, 2010; Slembeck, 1997; Witt, 2003)?

Knowledge plays a fundamental role in policy change and learning. Nevertheless, knowledge and policymaking have different rationales and boundaries, and this nexus has moved beyond the simplistic idea of “speaking truth to power” (Wildavsky, 1979), and redefining the role of researchers, the concept of knowledge, and the way this is used for policymaking purposes (Hoppe, 2005; Lyall et al., 2004; Pohl, 2008). Knowledge governance (van Kerkhoff, 2013) has emerged as a new challenge opening up a new field of research focusing on the role of ‘boundary organizations’ (Hoppe, 2005), ‘knowledge brokers’ (Meyer, 2010) and ‘knowledge intermediaries’ (Taylor, 2015). They may have different labels, but are fundamentally similar. For local policymakers, the learning capacities of public administrations, and their absorptive capacity from external sources of knowledge, are key issues that make knowledge governance a major (yet often underestimated) challenge.


Within this framework, we welcome academic papers addressing the three following dimensions from the perspective of European metropolitan areas:

  • KNOWLEDGE OF POLICYMAKING: experiences of ‘political resilience’ to address metropolitan societal challenges, the role of experts and learning strategies of local policymakers.
  • KNOWLEDGE FOR POLICYMAKING: definitions, actors, and dynamics beyond universities ‘speaking truth to power’, and the emerging role of ‘knowledge brokers’ and ‘boundary organizations’.
  • POLICY LEARNING FOR SMART GOVERNANCE? How to define and measure these dimensions? Who is learning from whom? Which knowledge governance?

We welcome both theoretical and empirical contributions from any European metropolitan area. In the submission, we invite to specify the methodology and which cases will be presented.

Please send abstracts of around 300 words as expressions of interest to Dr. Nicola Francesco DOTTI

email address


Deadline for abstract submission and expression of interest: 20 October 2015

Notification of acceptance: 1 November 2015

Dates of the workshop: 25-26 January 2016 in Brussels.

Venue and location:

Organisers: Cosmopolis (VUB). European and regional institutions and organizations have expressed their interest in this initiative.


email address



Antonelli, C., Quéré, M., 2002. The Governance of Interactive Learning within Innovation Systems. Urban Stud. 39, 1051–1063. doi:10.1080/00420980220128453

Armitage, D., 2007. Governance and the Commons in a Multi-Level World. Int. J. Commons 2, 7–32.

Bathelt, H., Malmberg, A., Maskell, P., 2004. Clusters and Knowledge: local buzz, global pipelines and the process of knowledge creation. Prog. Hum. Geogr. 28, 31–56.

Bathelt, H., Turi, P., 2011. Local, global and virtual buzz: The importance of face-to-face contact in economic interaction and possibilities to go beyond. Geoforum 42, 520–529. doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2011.04.007

Boschma, R., 2015. Towards an Evolutionary Perspective on Regional Resilience. Reg. Stud. 49, 733–751. doi:10.1080/00343404.2014.959481

Capano, G., 2009. Understanding Policy Change as an Epistemological and Theoretical Problem. J. Comp. Policy Anal. Res. Pract. 11, 7–31. doi:10.1080/13876980802648284

Escribano, A., Fosfuri, A., Tribó, J.A., 2009. Managing external knowledge flows: The moderating role of absorptive capacity. Res. Policy 38, 96–105. doi:10.1016/j.respol.2008.10.022

Garmendia, E., Stagl, S., 2010. Public participation for sustainability and social learning: Concepts and lessons from three case studies in Europe. Ecol. Econ. 69, 1712–1722. doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2010.03.027

Gertler, M.S., 2003. Tacit knowledge and the economic geography of context or, the undefinable tacitness of being (there). J. Econ. Geogr. 3, 75–99.

Hall, P.A., 1993. Policy Paradigms, Social Learning, and the State: The Case of Economic Policymaking in Britain. Comp. Polit. 25, 275–296.

Hassink, R., 2005. How to unlock regional economies from path dependency? From learning region to learning cluster. Eur. Plan. Stud. 13, 521–535.

Hooghe, L., Marks, G., 2003. Unraveling the Central State, but How? Types of Multi-level Governance. Am. Polit. Sci. Rev. 97, 233–243.

Hoppe, R., 2005. Rethinking the science-policy nexus: from knowledge utilization and science technology studies to types of boundary arrangements. Poiesis Prax. 3, 199–215. doi:10.1007/s10202-005-0074-0

Krause, R.M., 2010. Policy Innovation, Intergovernmental Relations, and the Adoption of Climate Protection Initiatives by U.S. Cities. J. Urban Aff. 33, 45–60.

Lorenzen, M., 2001. Localized Learning and Policy: Academic Advice on Enhancing Regional Competitiveness through Learning. Eur. Plan. Stud. 9, 163–185. doi:10.1080/713666462

Lyall, C., Bruce, A., Firn, J., Firn, M., Tait, J., 2004. Assessing end-use relevance of public sector research organisations. Res. Policy 33, 73–87. doi:10.1016/S0048-7333(03)00090-8

Malmberg, A., Maskell, P., 2006. Localized Learning Revisited. Growth Change 37, 1–18. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2257.2006.00302.x

Meyer, M., 2010. The Rise of the Knowledge Broker. Sci. Commun. 32, 118–127. doi:10.1177/1075547009359797

Morgan, K., 1997. The Learning Region: Institutions, Innovation and Regional Renewal. Reg. Stud. 31, 491–503.

Moulaert, F., Nussbaumer, J., 2005. The social region – Beyond the territorial dynamics of the learning economy. Eur. Urban Reg. Stud. 12, 45–64.

Moulaert, F., Sekia, F., 2003. Territorial Innovation Models: A Critical Survey. Reg. Stud. 37, 289–302. doi:10.1080/0034340032000065442

Pohl, C., 2008. From Science to Policy through Transdisciplinary Research. Environ. Sci. Policy II 11, 46–53.

Slembeck, T., 1997. The Formation of Economic Policy: A Cognitive-Evolutionary Approach to Policy-Making. Const. Polit. Econ. 8, 225–254.

Storper, M., 1997. Regional economies as relational assets, in: Regional World: Territorial Development in a Global Economy. Guilford Press., New York.

Taylor, C., 2015. Between Culture, Policy and Industry: Modalities of Intermediation in the Creative Economy. Reg. Stud. 49, 362–373. doi:10.1080/00343404.2012.748981

Van Kerkhoff, L., 2013. Knowledge Governance for Sustainable Development: A Review. Chall. Sustain. 1, 82–93.

Wildavsky, A.B., 1979. Speaking truth to power: the art and craft of policy analysis, Little, Brown. ed. Transaction Publishers, Boston, Mass.

Witt, U., 2003. Economic policy making in evolutionary perspective. J. Evol. Econ. 13, 77–94.


Filed under Brussels Studies Institute, Brussels-Capital Region, city, europe, event

5 responses to “CfP Knowledge, Policymaking and Learning in European Metropolitan Areas: Experiences and Approaches

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