Growth Machines of Strategic Action Fields? Writing Development Strategies in North-Western Transylvanian Settlements as a Process of Institutionalization

Adrian HATOS


Small Romanian towns and villages have been hit during post-communist transformations by massive loss of human and economic resources due to the vanishing of their industrial economies of reliance. My paper deals with holdbacks to the necessary planning and completion of actions dedicated to stopping the decline and ignition of durable development in such instances using the institutionalist framework of strategic action fields. Firstly, I argue that urban development coalitions can be framed as collective action; secondly, I look at several necessary ingredients of it that can explain the (non)emergence or the lack of effectiveness of development coalitions in small Romanian localities. On the basis of non-systematic personal observations from several North-Western Transylvanian small urban settlements and villages as well I discuss the main obstacles impeding the success of local development coalitions: local myths and the culture of powerlessness, deprived human resources, the actions of antidevelopment coalitions and defective leadership. Finally I propose that the exit from the vicious circle of anti- development conditions could start from considering the town as a community of practice in which learning should have a great role.


local development coalitions; urban growth machines; strategic action fields; collective action.

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