Territorial Development Strategies: Navigating the Complexities of Multi-Level Governance in Northern Italy



Territorial Development Strategies, Multi-Level Governance, Multi-Stakeholder Collaboration




Regional Managing Authorities (MAs), particularly those at the NUTS2 level in Italy, play a pivotal role in managing territorial development policies, coordinating and integrating diverse strategies and initiatives across multiple governance levels. This study delves into the practical and operational methods employed by MAs to navigate these complexities, focusing on the transition between the 2014-2020 and 2021-2027 European Programming cycles.

The research, conducted by Prof. Sarah Isabella Chiodi and Dr. Lorenzo Liguoro at Politecnico di Milano, examines the experiences of four regional actors – Piedmont, Lombardy, Veneto, and Emilia-Romagna – in implementing territorial development policies, with a particular emphasis on Policy Objective 5 of the renewed Cohesion Policy: "A Europe closer to citizens."

The Challenges of Place-Based, Multi-Stakeholder, and Multi-Level Programming

The study highlights the intricate challenges faced by MAs in managing place-based, multi-stakeholder, and multi-level programming. These challenges include:

The need to coordinate and integrate diverse strategies and initiatives across multiple levels of governance. This requires MAs to develop strong relationships with a wide range of stakeholders, including national governments, local authorities, the private sector, and civil society.

The need to ensure strategic alignment between different themes, funding sources, and regulatory frameworks. This requires MAs to develop clear and coherent visions for territorial development, and to ensure that these visions are reflected in the policies and programs that they implement.

The need to engage citizens and other stakeholders in the planning and implementation of territorial development policies. This requires MAs to develop inclusive and participatory processes that allow for the voices of all stakeholders to be heard.

The Study's Methodology

To address these challenges, the study adopts a mixed-method approach, combining a quali-quantitative CAWI investigation with an operational thematic laboratory. The CAWI methodology gathers data and insights from regional actors, while the operational thematic laboratory facilitates direct confrontation among actors, fostering knowledge exchange and collaboration.


The Study's Envisaged Findings

The study's findings highlight the following key trends in the management of territorial development policies in Northern Italy:

  • focus on place-based approaches. This trend is reflected in the increasing emphasis on Policy Objective 5 of the renewed Cohesion Policy, which aims to promote more inclusive and sustainable growth by investing in local communities.
  • emphasis on multi-stakeholder collaboration. This trend is reflected in the increasing use of partnerships and other forms of collaboration between public, private, and civil society actors.
  • value of multi-level governance. This trend is reflected in the increasing need for MAs to coordinate and collaborate with actors at the European, national, and local levels.

The Study's Implications

The study's findings have implications for the development of effective territorial development governance in Northern Italy and beyond. These implications include:

  • The need for MAs to develop strong capacities for strategic planning, coordination, and collaboration.
  • The need for MAs to invest in inclusive and participatory processes for engaging citizens and other stakeholders.
  • The need for MAs to work with partners at the European, national, and local levels to ensure coherence and coordination across different levels of governance.


The study contributes valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities of managing territorial development policies in a multi-level governance context. The study's findings can be used to inform the development of capacity-building strategies and other initiatives to support effective territorial development governance.

Author Biography

  • Lorenzo Liguoro

    Lorenzo Liguoro is an experienced project manager, researcher, and evaluator in the fields of local development and European Union policies, boasting a rich background spanning over 15 years. He has actively engaged in 53 international projects.

    Specializing in collaborative design methodologies and practice-based management (ISO 21502:2020), Liguoro provides crucial support to public and private entities in conceptualizing, executing, and evaluating experimental and intricate interventions. His collaborations have extended to public institutions such as the Region of Veneto, Veneto Lavoro, and Unioncamere del Veneto, prestigious universities including Padua, Ca' Foscari Venice, and IUAV.

    In the realm of academia, Liguoro has been a dedicated educator for more than a decade, offering comprehensive courses on project management, collaborative design, and social innovation at three different universities.

    Liguoro holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, Government of Administration, from the University of Padova. He furthered his academic pursuits at Padova, earning a Master's degree in European Union Policies.


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