A competence set for sustainable urban development: framing a research agenda

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The primary purpose of this paper is to call for more research on the competencies needed to promote sustainable urban development. Our premise is that sustainable urban development does not occur without transcending differing interests and identifying novel ways to collaborate across organisational and institutional boundaries. Relatedly, sustainable urban development calls for mobilisation and pooling of scattered assets. Therefore, sustainable urban development calls for enhanced competencies that significantly differ from the traditional capabilities valued in public administration. This premise leads us to determine what competencies are needed to support sustainable urban development and to ask how fragmented capabilities can be pooled to serve the common purpose. Sustainable urban development necessitates transformative system change, dependent on diverse stakeholders, relying on many actors’ knowledge and capabilities instead of a few selected actors’ expertise. To achieve a systemic perspective, we need to be able to group the capabilities and competencies; otherwise. We propose a conceptual framework drawing on insights from public administration, management studies, organisation studies, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that might allow us to move from individual capabilities to shared competencies and collective learning processes, thus adding analytical leverage to our efforts to strengthen the competencies embedded in systems but held by individuals. For analytical purposes, we adopt the concept of the competence set. It is geared toward identifying how different capabilities of many actors could be integrated at a systemic level so that a set would serve both the entire urban system and the actors embedded in it.

Original languageEnglish
JournalRegional Studies, Regional Science
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)351-361
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by the Nordic Green Growth Research and Innovation Programme in cooperation with NordForsk, Nordic Innovation and Nordic Energy Research [grant number 83130].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

    Research areas

  • O18, O38‌, Sustainable; urban; development; competence; capability; competence set

ID: 396405785