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Negotiating Urban Space: The Challenge of Political Steering in Market- and Network-oriented Urban Planning


Gro Sandkjær Hanssen, Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research (NIBR), Gaustadalleen 21, 0349 Oslo, Norway. E-mail:


This article examines challenges related to the political steering of New Public Management-inspired planning practices in Norway and asks if local politicians have sufficient and adequate instruments to hand, and if they are willing and have the knowledge to use them. The discussion is based upon a broad survey of the 145 largest municipalities and qualitative interviews in the three largest cities. It is found that local politicians do not lack steering instruments, as the different managerial practices represent a spectrum of suitable tools for giving direction to urban development. However, the data indicate that local politicians do not utilise the full steering potential of the instruments due to lack of knowledge and will. These findings contribute to the discussion of the strategic steering role of local politicians.