Planning practices and instruments – Evaluation of city alliances in the context of central place concepts by the example of the Harz region, Germany


  • Polina Mihal ukrainian
  • Marisa Fuchs


Strategic planning, strategic development, inter-municipal cooperation, city alliance, function-sharing cities




Equivalence of living conditions is one of the fundamental issues of spatial planning. It is about equivalent development opportunities, access and accessibility to infrastructures of general interest and much more. Particularly in shrinking and structurally weak regions, the capacity of services of general interest is jeopardized. This is where inter-municipal cooperation plays a significant role. Inter-municipal alliances offer opportunities for greater adaptability and resilience of cities and better provision of services of general interest for the population.

The shrinking Harz region in the federal state of Saxony-Anhalt is also characterized by a continuous population decline and is struggling with inadequate (public) transport links to the larger cities outside the region. This has a negative impact on the population's supply with higher-quality goods and services within a reasonable commute and impairs the provision of equal living conditions in all parts of Germany. Aiming to address these developments, the three largest cities in the region intend to cooperate to secure the provision of higher goods and services in the region and to strengthen its capacity for development. These three cities together have a so-called functional complementary potential and are striving to be designated as a function-sharing city alliance in the future.

However, the effectiveness of function-sharing city alliances depends on the coordination of planning and service provision by the cooperating cities. In this context, the evaluation of inter-municipal cooperation comes into play. Its task is to review the level of performance and the degree of target achievement at certain periods (Fürst 2010). The results of the evaluation can be used to assess whether the functionally cooperating group of municipalities should continue to exist or whether a new central location classification is required (Guyadeen/Seasons 2018).

For this newly initiated city alliance in the state of Saxony-Anhalt, the IMPULS project developed a tailor-made evaluation model. In this context, the presentation provides answers to the following research questions:

  1. What are the most important quality assessment criteria for an evaluation of city alliances?
  2. How should a formative, accompanying evaluation be designed in order to take the maturity of the city alliance into account?
  3. What are the main success factors and barriers for the applicability of an evaluation of city alliances?

We used various methods to develop the evaluation model. With the help of a document analysis, we reviewed with which assessment criteria such an evaluation has already been carried out in Germany. Based on these practical lessons we developed a three-stage formative evaluation model in an iterative process with feedback by the practical stakeholders. Three evaluands will be introduced on which the evaluation model is based. The first evaluand is Spatial planning contract and a regional development concept, the second is Cooperation within the city alliance and the third is Projects/ function-sharing. The three-stage structure is intended to reveal the degree of maturity of the cooperation in function-sharing. We discuss our applied methodological approaches with regard to their transferability to other shrinking regions and provide insights into suitable strategies for the different fields of action.




Guyadeen, D.; Seasons, M. (2018): Evaluation Theory and Practice: Comparing Program Evaluation and Evaluation in Planning. In: Journal of Planning Education and Research 38, 1, 98–110. doi: 10.1177/0739456X16675930

Fürst, D. (2010): Raumplanung. Herausforderungen des deutschen Institutionensystems. Planungswissenschaftliche Studien zu Raumordnung und Regionalentwicklung 1. Detmold.