The politics of institutional collective action : a comparative analysis of integrated territorial investments in Poland

  • Sylwia Borkowska

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The thesis investigates metropolitan governance in local development through a comparative study of integrated economic development policies in Polish functional urban areas. It focuses on the case of Integrated Territorial Investments (ITI), a new policy instrument introduced under European Union’s cohesion policy for the period 2014-2020 in order to promote sustainable urban development. This thesis aims to identify the political factors involved in inter-municipal collaboration during ITI implementation, and their impact on collaboration. The theoretical framework for this thesis is the Institutional Collective Action (ICA) Framework (Feiock, 2013) as adapted to the European context (Tavares, Feiock, 2018). The research focuses on ITI implementation in two Polish metropolitan areas: Central Subregion of the Śląskie Voivodeship (CS), and the Lublin Functional Area (LFA). Data collection involved methods building on organisational ethnography: three months of participatory observation, and 45 in-depth expert semi-structured interviews. The data has been analysed using systematic qualitative content analysis, within a coding scheme based on the ICA Framework. The research identified 48 political factors involved in joint ITI implementation. These factors had a strong impact on collaboration in both metropolitan areas: mostly positive impact in CS, and mostly negative in LFA. The factors were divided into nine thematic categories, out of which the highest impact had leaders and mayors. Among ICA Framework elements, political factors mostly affected division risks, and negotiations and bargaining costs. The thesis contributes to the ICA literature by extending the scope of political factors involved in inter-municipal cooperation. It shows a dynamic dimension of the processes captured by the Framework, and proposes new types of collaboration risks (related to non-strategic joint projects) and of transaction costs (related to assessing these projects). Aside from applying the ICA framework to a new geographical context, it uses a new kind of (ethnographic) data. Finally, the research formulates practical implications relevant for policy-makers working with functional areas crossing administrative borders.
Date of Award24 Sept 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SponsorsUniversity of Strathclyde
SupervisorMartin Ferry (Supervisor) & Carlos Mendez (Supervisor)

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