Cross-border metropolitan governance in Europe : a network analysis approach

Project Details


The main objective of this project is to analyse the process of building cross-border metropolitan regions (CBMR) in Europe. More specifically, the project examines the meaning of policy networks dedicated to strategic planning and territorial promotion and evaluates their capacity to promote cross-border governance regimes. To achieve this objective, we argue for a relational approach to the construction of cross-border metropolitan areas, in order not to embed the analysis in a predefined territorial configuration or geographic scale.

Research questions
Three main questions are addressed. The first question investigates who are the actors involved in the policy networks and hat their relations are. Analysis the configuration of the networks requires both the identification of the role played by the actors and the evaluation of the nature of their relationships. The objective is to know which actors play a central role in strategic planning and territorial promotion and what are the determinants that structure their power relations.
The second objective is to examine to what extend spatial features and geographical distance have an effect on the structural properties of the policy networks. How are policy networks related to spatial proximity ? Does a polycentric urban structure favour cooperation and more balanced networks ? To what extent is the presence of a state border affecting the forms of the networks and the role of actors ? This section addresses these questions by looking at the spatial arrangements of political linkages.
The last question investigates to what extent the structure of networks explains differences in policy outcomes. The purpose is to assess the capacity of policy networks to bring a shared vision of spatial development and to implement it through concrete projects. Do the networks and the cooperation they entail have the ability to coordinate different interests, different types of actors and different territorial scales ?

The analytical framework develop in MetroNet is based on the comparative analysis of policy networks. Applying the concept to the specific case of CBMR is a major challence and a neglected area of study. It is clearly necessary to look beyond established methodologies to capture the observed governance structure and changes. In that view, this project combines both quantitative and qualitative approaches. Social network analysis provides a theoretical and methodological framework allowing a decoupling of the fluid and intertwined relations between a multiplicity of actors and highlights the forms of governance that are put in place.

Case studies
Four case studies are selected: Luxembourg, Basel, Lille and Vienna-Bratislava. In all four cases, cross-border cooperation is on the agenda but at different stages. Rather than a generalisation on the European scale, these case studies will contribute to a better understanding of the interactions between national borders and metropolitan centres in Europe.

Expected results
On a scientific level, the project aims to better understand how policy networks regulate the spatial construction of cross-border metropolitan areas. The wider objective is to illuminate aspects that are still largely unknown, particularly regarding the interactions between networks of actors and the effects of state borders.
Effective start/end date1/01/1031/12/12


  • Fonds National de la Recherche-FNR
  • Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER)
  • Université du Luxembourg
  • KU Leuven
  • University of the West of England
  • Université de Haute-Alsace
  • Vienna University of Technology


  • Geography
  • Cross-border cooperation
  • Cross-border metropolitan region
  • Governance
  • Urban planning
  • Social netwo
  • Europe