Co-evolutionary planning theory: Evolutionary Governance Theory and its relatives

Kristof Van Assche, R. Beunen, Martijn Duineveld

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


In a changing and often unpredictable globalized world, planning theory is core to understanding how planning and its practices both function and evolve. As illustrated in The Routledge Hand-book of Planning Theory, planning and its many roles have changed profoundly over the recent decades; so have the theories, both critical and explanatory, about its practices, values and knowledges. The handbook presents key contemporary themes in planning theory through the views of some of the most innovative thinkers in planning.
The Routledge Handbook of Planning Theory includes a chapter on Evolutionary Governance Theory. The chapters analyses the presence, the origins and the potential of co- evolutionary perspectives in planning theory. It pay particular attention to Evolutionary Governance Theory, as a comprehensive perspective on co- evolution in spatial planning and governance. The co- evolutionary approach to planning presents a middle ground between (social) engineering ap-proaches on the one hand and theories completely disqualifying planning and steering on the other. Both ends of the spectrum have often been criticized for respectively overestimating the steering possibilities of governments and the organizing capacities of markets. Planning theory embedded in governance theory can help to analyse and understand a particular governance context, to delineate the possibilities and limits of planning in that context, and to determine which planning efforts are most likely to have a positive impact. In a co-evolutionary perspec-tive, context as such, and governance context in particular, are never fixed, never stable: all elements and structures are continuously influencing each other.
The co-evolutionary perspective as developed in EGT opens up planning theory for a series of relevant concepts from different disciplines, relevant for the analysis of current and potential forms of planning in a community, while conversely giving theories and practices of planning a firm place within governance. The chapters shows how a co-evolutionary perspective is a very useful lens for both analysis and change, for the development of new planning perspectives or for the deliberate circumvention of a current planning system
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Planning Theory
EditorsMichael Gunder, Ali Madanipour, Vanessa Watson
Place of PublicationNew York
ISBN (Electronic)9781315696072
ISBN (Print)9781138905016
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Planning
  • spatial planning
  • land use planning
  • urban governance
  • urban development
  • regional development
  • urban design
  • landscape architecture


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