Snellmaninkatu 12
(PL 16)
00014 University of Helsinki


Stefan Sjöblom
+358 2941 28414

Administrative Assistant
Minna Lehtola
+358 2941 28483

The XXIII ESRS Congress, Vaasa, 2009


Working Group 5.3 (Theme 5: Sustainable Ruralities)


Stefan Sjöblom, Kjell Andersson, Sebastian Godenhjelm & Minna Lehtola (University of Helsinki, Swedish School of Social Science, FO-RUM)

Temporary organisations and rural-urban relations:
Can long-term sustainability goals be achieved through short-term interventions?

An important and widespread trend is increasing reliance on temporary organisations to achieve sustainable development objectives. Non-permanent organisations offer the possibility of hyper-rational responses to social problems, through seemingly mobilizing appropriate competencies and expertise on a just-in-time basis. While attractive, such logic ignores the friction of coordination and continuity. Especially in policy fields like regional development, characterised by cross-sectoral and multi-level policy problems and implementation processes, there is a tremendous need for a broader assessment of the possibilities and limitations of pursuing long term sustainability related objectives by means of structures characterised by a high degree of administrative short-termism.

Focus of the WG
The workshop will focus on comparative differences in key institutional mechanisms especially the proliferation of organizational and administrative structures that contribute to sustainable regional development through short-term organizations and instruments (partnerships, agencies, networks, and projects). The empirical focal point will be rural-urban relations, a field where short term projects and partnerships are widely deployed. Different social groups, rationalities and discourses are involved and the issue crosses important administrative borders within a multilevel governance system. The relationship between temporary and permanent institutions is crucial in combining long-term objectives for sustainable regional development.

The following questions are especially important:

  • What are the main national characteristics of the governance structure in the field of regional development, especially rural-urban relations?
  • To what extent – and how - are short-term organisations and instruments utilised as means for achieving regional development objectives?
  • How are the achievements (new knowledge, procedures, outputs) of short-term organisations sustained and transferred to permanent institutions?
  • What are the mechanisms for participation? To what extent can communities and individuals be effectively consulted and involved by means of short-term organisations and instruments?

The convenors invite researchers to submit papers on administrative short-termism and rural-urban relations that address the above mentioned questions in their respective countries. The aim is to develop existing networks in the field and possibly to publish a book based on the papers of the workshop. The book will focus on comparative differences in administrative short-termism and rural-urban relations in Europe. More detailed instructions will be given to the participants after their abstracts have been accepted.

Please send your abstract (max 200 words) to
kjell.andersson(AT) by March 14 th 2009.


WG 5.3

  • Deadline for papers Monday August 3rd 2009

FO-RUM Workshops

  • Workshop on Projectification, Governance and Sustainability: US-EU Synthesis and Comparison
    21st - 23rd October, 2007, Cornell University, US

  • Working Group 7: Rural-urban relations, short-termism and sustainable development
    20-24 August 2007, XXII ESRS Congress, Wageningen

  • Working Group 6: Realigning rural-urban relations in Europe
    ESRS XXI Congress 22-27 August, 2005, Keszthely, Hungary


Forthcoming publications:

  • Andersson, Eklund, Lehtola & Salmi (2009) Beyond the rural-urban divide