Place-making and the limitations of spatial leadership: reflections on the Oresund

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The concepts of place-making and place-shaping have grown in prominence over recent years, and have been taken up increasingly into public policy discourse. As used by many commentators, these concepts assumes that places are amenable to purposive control under the leadership of local agencies of one sort or another including, for example, local authorities. The present paper explores this assumption by sketching out a framework for the investigation of place-making and place-shaping, a framework that focuses particularly upon its governance and its leadership. It is argued in this context that place-making is an ordering process that combines two modes of governance – spontaneous and purposive – only one of which (the second) is directly amenable to deliberate control and so to leadership of any sort. It is also argued that leadership is a relational phenomenon, and that the leadership relationship will on any particular occasion be located somewhere between two poles – between leader-dominance and follower-dominance – only one of which (the first) is consistent with leadership as this is conventionally understood. Drawing upon the findings from a case study of the Øresund cross-border region, it is concluded that a less conventional sense of leadership is required in the context of place-making and shaping, one that acknowledges the importance of spontaneous governance, and that embraces the possibility of follower-dominance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-489
Number of pages15
JournalPolicy Studies
Issue number4: Leadership and Place
Early online date17 Jun 2010
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2010


  • place-shaping
  • dominance
  • leadership
  • place-making
  • governance


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