Integrating regional development and planning into “spatial planning” in Finland: The untapped potential of the Kainuu experiment

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Eva Purkarthofer Hanna Merikki Mattila


With Finland’s accession to the European Union in 1995, a regional level of administration responsible for regulation-based land-use planning and incentive-driven regional development policy was introduced. The administration of both policies on the same spatial scale and within the same organisation suggests increased coordination of spatial impacts and a move towards an integrated conception of spatial planning. In practice, however, the relationship of these two fields remains ambiguous. In the Finnish case, one potential explanation for this detachment lies in the de facto weakness of the regional scale. In the Kainuu region in Northeastern Finland, ambitions to strengthen the regional scale resulted in a self-government experiment between 2005 and 2012. This article addresses the implementation of this experiment, its implications for integrated regional governance and the lessons to be learned for the upcoming regional reform in Finland.

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Author Biographies

Eva Purkarthofer, Aalto University

Eva Purkarthofer is a doctoral candidate at Aalto University, Finland. Her research focuses on the European Union and its influences on spatial planning in different countries. Correspondence: Eva Purkarthofer, Department of Built Environment, P.O. Box 14100, 00076 Aalto; E-mail:

Hanna Merikki Mattila, Aalto University

Hanna Mattila is University Lecturer of Land Use Planning at Aalto University, Finland. Her research interests include planning and governance systems and planning theory. Correspondence: Hanna Mattila, Department of Built Environment, P.O. Box 14100, 00076 Aalto; E-mail:

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