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42nd Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "From Industry to Advanced Services - Perspectives of European Metropolitan Regions", August 27th - 31st, 2002, Dortmund, Germany
Currently social and political constructed urban regions are about to approach a threefold role regarding their functional, economic and political function. At first they constitute a basis for economic and social life. What is next is their role as a vital relational asset to refine competitive advantages and thirdly they exemplify the significance of a new era of reflexive capitalism. One underlying consequence of the "new" interest concerning the de- and re-territorialisation of political economic activity is to consider the regional scale as a functional space for economic planning and political governance. Our intended contribution for the ERSA-Conference deals with the role of selected European Metropolitan Regions as "driving forces" for national and Europe`s competitiveness and the involved challenges for such urban regions to pool their resources and potentials in order to cerate some kind of "appropriate organising capacities". To do so, the authors would draw on the ongoing debate about the adequate analysis of regional political economies and on the empirical results produced within two recently finished international research projects (named as EURBANET and GEMACA II: both were executed under the umbrella of the INTERREG IIC operational programme for the North Western Metropolitan Area). Whilst GEMACA II focussed on the competitiveness of metropolitan regions, the EURBANET project took on board the possible contribution of polynuclear urban regions, such as RheinRuhr and the Delta Metropolis, in order to strengthen the regional competitiveness and quality of life. Additionally, their potential roles in transnational planning processes were under study. The planned paper would start with the observation that a great number of examinations on urban or city-regional economies reduce these "spatialities" to empirical given administrative bounded cities and simultaneously to a "container" for socio-economic processes. However, a "region" is comprehended as a historical contingent process and its emergence needs to be understood as a part of socio-spatial structure and collective consciousness of society. Questions of spatial scales, territorial shapes, institutional formations and cultural identities are thus given preference by a number of social scientists and human geographers. In order to respond to this perspective, the authors want to discuss three key factors of the economic development exemplified by four metropolitan regions (as named in the headline). 1. the territorial shape of comparable functional urban regions including the specific questions of the internal spatial shape (rather monocentric or polycentric configurations without a dominant core); 2. the present "economic performance" of the selected regions embedded in the discourse of "regional competitiveness"; 3. the importance of "appropriate" institutional and policy-making frameworks for effective metropolitan governance and governments by bringing together the mutual interests of various city-regional stakeholders.
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