Local development and adaptation

I am associate professor in cultural geography at the Center for Municipality studies, Linkoping university. As a researcher, I am primarily interested in local politics, planning and development.

In previous studies I have investigated how political organizations translate ideas and visions of the future into practical action. Currently, I work within three research fields:

Local development policy and planning

With my dissertation What kind of regionalism? I established an interest in studying local and regional development policy. Since then, I have developed this interest in several studies. Today, I collaborate with Albin Olausson Algotsson about “Local Atractiveness” in a three-year study funded by the Swedish Agency for Growth. The aim of the study is to increase knowledge about how the municipalities translate the state‘s commitment to local development work, how they construe developmental problems, formulate goals and develop methods for local development work. In this project we have also investigated how local development professionals create legitimacy for local development work and how they act as policy entrepreneurs at local level. The project will end in 2018.

Politics and planning in shrinking communities

All over the world, there are places that are slowly inhabited by less and less people. In my research, I seek to understand what it means to make political decisions in places characterized by remoteness, sparseness and population decline. In my research, I argue that shrinking municipalities should develop a local adaptation policy – a policy that describes, in a coherent manner, the efforts that are being made to adapt the municipality to the new conditions that a shrinking economy and a reduced population entail. In this project I collaborate with Marlies Meijer, Utrecht University; Conrad Siebert, University of Trier; Gert-Jan Hospers, University of Twente. The study is funded by the Formas Research Council and will be completed in 2018.

Destination management and local development

Tourism is attributed to an increasing importance for local and regional development. In recent years, I have highlighted the tourism industry from a variety of perspectives. In a study funded by the Swedish Agency for Growth, Mattias Hjerpe and I, the role of local governments in the development of sustainable tourism destinations. At the moment, I collaborate with Petra Svensson and Sebastian Larsson in the study Knowledge Management in the tourism industry. The project aims to provide an increasing understanding of how knowledge is developed and spread within the tourism industry. The project was initiated in January 2018 and is funded by the Swedish Agency for Growth.

Teaching and assignments

Previously, I have been a guest teacher at the Political Science Department, Rostock University (2003/04, 2017), and engaged as a guest lecturer at the EUI in Florence (2005), Universität Münster (2009), University of Edinburg (2010) and University of Namibia (2011).

Between 2012 and 2017, I was the head of the Center for Municipality Studies. Since 2015, I am the chairman of the Vadstena Foundation for Social Development and since 2017 I am Vice Chairman of LiU Holding.

Researchers in collaboration
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Publications, in selection
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ORCID 0000-0001-7607-7029

Publications in DiVA


Syssner, J. (kommande) Mindre många, Stockholm: Dokument Press. 

Hospers, G.J, Syssner, J. (eds.) (2018). Dealing with Urban and Rural Shrinkage: Formal and Informal Strategies. Berlin, Münster: LIT Verlag.

Syssner, J. & Meijer, M. (2018). ’Informal and formal planning in rural areas’, In Dealing with Urban and Rural Shrinkage: Formal and Informal Strategies (pp. 31–44). LIT Verlag GmBH and Co. KG Wien.

Jonsson, R., & Syssner, J. (2018). New demography, old infrastructure : the management of fixed assets in shrinking municipalities in Sweden. In Dealing with Urban and Rural Shrinkage: Formal and Informal Strategies (pp. 31–44). LIT Verlag GmBH and Co. KG Wien.


Syssner, J & Hjerpe, M. (2017) ‘Destination Management Professionals Expectations on Local Governments’, Scandinavian Journal of Hospitality and Tourism

Syssner, J. & Meijer, M. (2017) ‘Informal planning in depopulating rural areas. A resource-based view on informal planning practices’, European Countryside.

Meijer, M., & Syssner, J. (2017). Getting ahead in depopulating areas - How linking social capital is used for informal planning practices in Sweden and The Netherlands. Journal of Rural Studies, 55. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrurstud.2017.07.014

Olausson & Syssner (2017) Att stärka den lokala attraktionskraften CKS Rapportserie: Norrköping

Syssner, J. Häggroth, S., Ramberg, U. (red.) (2017). Att äga framtiden – perspektiv på kommunal utveckling. Linköping: LiU Tryck.

Syssner, Häggroth, Ramberg (2017) ’Att äga framtiden’. i Syssner, Häggroth, Ramberg (red.) Att äga framtiden. Linköping: LiU Tryck. 

Lidström, A. & Syssner, J.  (2017). ’Storstadens & landsbygdens utmaningar’ ,  i Syssner, Häggroth, Ramberg (red.) Att äga framtiden. Linköping: LiU Tryck. 

Syssner, J. (2017). ’Plan B – att hantera befolkningsminskning i kommuner’, i Jordbruksverket (red.) Så här ligger landet, Jönköping.


Small, Roy & Syssner, J. (2016) ”Diversity of New Uses in Post-Industrial Landscapes. Diverging ideals and outcomes in the post-industrial landscapes of Lowell, Massachusetts and Norrköping, Sweden”, in Journal of Urban Design. DOI: 10.1080/13574809.2016.1234331

Jonsson, Robert & Syssner, J. (2016) ”Demografianpassad infrastruktur? Om hantering av anläggningstillgångar i kommuner med minskande befolkningsunderlag”, i Nordisk Administrativ Tidskrift, Nr. 3.

Syssner, J. & Olausson, A. (2016) ”Översiktsplanering i kommuner som krymper”, i Statsvetenskaplig Tidskrift 2/2016.

Syssner, J. & Hospers, Gert- Jan (2016) ”Tabu Schrumpfung. Über den öffentlichen Diskurs zum demografischen Wandel in Schwedischen Kommunen” in Eichert, Christof & Löffler, Roland (ed.) Die Bürger und ihr öffentlicher Raum. Städte zwischen Krise und Innovation, Sinclair-Haus-Gespräch.

Syssner, J. et. al (2016) Den nyttiga kritiken. CKS Rapportserie: Norrköping


Syssner, J. (2015) “Planning for shrinkage: policy implications of demographic decline”, in Journal of Depopulation and Rural Development Studies.

Syssner, J. (2015), “Visioner som formar platsen – Om visionsdriven styrning i den lokala utvecklingspolitiken”, i Geografiska Notiser 2015/01

Hospers, Gert- Jan, Syssner, J. & W.J. Verheul (2015), How the Dutch deal with demographic decline, in: T. Köhler & M. Leyser-Droste (red.), Exploring the Future of Suburban Neighbourhoods under Conditions of Declining Growth, ILS Research Institute for Regional and Urban Development, Dortmund, pp. 17-21

Syssner, J. & Olausson, Albin (2015) ”Att vara en krympande kommun” i Urbanisering. SKL: Stockholm

Persson, Bo & Syssner, J. (2015) Lokal forskningspolitik. CKS Rapportserie: Norrköping. 

Erlingsson, Syssner, Ödalen (2015) Strategier för att möta småkommunernas utmaningar. SNS Analys. Stockholm: Studieförbundet Näringsliv & Samhälle. 

Hjerpe & Syssner (2015) Utveckling av hållbara turistdestinationer. Om problem, processer & planering. Rapport 0184. Stockholm: Tillväxtverket.


Syssner, J. (2014) Politik för kommuner som krymper, CKS Rapportserie.

Syssner, J. (2014) ’Strategier för kommuner som krymper’, i Hermelin, Brita (red.) Kommunstrategiska perspektiv– Demokrati, organisation, kunskap & samhällsförändring. CKS rapport 2014:1


Syssner, J. (2013) ‘Strategier för kommuner som krymper. Om lokal anpassningspolitik som komplement till lokal tillväxtpolitik’, paper presenterat på XXII Nordiska kommunforskarkonferensen i Åbo den 21-23 november 2013. 

Syssner, J. & Kvarnström, L. (red.) (2013). Det turistiska fältet & dess aktörer, Lund: Studentlitteratur.

Syssner, J. (2013) ‘Den attraktiva regionen - regionaliseringens platser, aktörer, värden & bilder’. I Engstrand, Carl-Johan (red.) Den attraktiva regionen. Trafikverket. 

Syssner, J. & Kvarnström (2013) ”Introduktion till det turistiska fältet” i Syssner, J. & Kvarnström, L. (red.) (2013) Det turistiska fältet & dess aktörer, Lund: Studentlitteratur.

Kvarnström & Syssner, J. (2013) ”Statens roll på det turistiska fältet” i Syssner, J. & Kvarnström, L. (red.) (2013) Det turistiska fältet & dess aktörer, Lund: Studentlitteratur.

Syssner, J. (2013) ”Regionen som fält & aktör” i Syssner, J. & Kvarnström, L. (red.) (2013) Det turistiska fältet & dess aktörer, Lund: Studentlitteratur.


Syssner, J. (2012) Världens bästa plats? Platsmarknadsföring, makt & medborgarskap, Lund: Nordic Academic Press 

Syssner, J (red.) (2012) Turisten resenären besökaren. Turistiska berättelser om etik, identitet & resande. LiU-Tryck. 


Syssner, J. (2011) ‘No space for Citizens? Conceptualisations of Citizenship in a functional Region’, in Journal of Citizenship Studies, 12/04. 

Syssner, J (red.) (2011) Perspektiv på turism & resande. Begrepp för en kritisk turismanalys, Lund: Studentlitteratur

Syssner, J. (2011) ’Turismvetenskapliga begrepp – en introduktion’ i Syssner (2011) Perspektiv på turism & resande. Begrepp för en kritisk turismanalys, Lund: Studentlitteratur.

Syssner, J. (2011) ’Identitet’ i Syssner (2011) Perspektiv på turism & resande. Begrepp för en kritisk turismanalys, Lund: Studentlitteratur.

Jonsson, S. & Syssner, J. (2011) ’Postkolonialism’ i Syssner (2011) Perspektiv på turism & resande. Begrepp för en kritisk turismanalys, Lund: Studentlitteratur.


Syssner, J. (2010) ‘Placebranding in a Multi Level Perspective’, in Journal of Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, 6, pp. 36–48.

Syssner, J. (2010), ‘Place Branding: spatial visions, public norms’, paper presented at ERSA congress “Sustainable Regional Growth and Development in the CreativeKnowledge Economy”, Jönköping, Sweden. 

Syssner, J. (2010) ’Platser, människor, visioner - om Vimmerby som kommun & besöksmål’ i Johnsson, Leif (red.) Samhällsutveckling & Kulturarv i Vimmerby kommun, Lund: Nordic Academic Press.

Syssner, J. & Khayati, K. (2010) ’Veni, Vidi, Adios’, in Tesfahuney, M. and Shough, K. (red.). Det Globala Privilegiet. Sekel Förlag.

Syssner, J (2010), ’Review on ’Devolution and Social Citizenship in the UK’ by Scott Greer (ed.)’,in Regional and Federal Studies, nr 5/10, Taylor and Francis Group.


Syssner, J. (2009) 'Conceptualisations of Culture and Identity in Regional Development Policy', in Journal of Regional and Federal Studies.19:3, pp. 437-458.

Syssner, J. (2009) ’No Space for Citizens?’, paper presented at ’Is There a Regional Citizenship?’, International workshop arranged by REMESO and Regional StudiesAssociation, Norrköping, Sweden.


Syssner, J. (2008), ’Den regionala medborgaren’, in Andersson, F., Ek, R., Molina, I (red.) Regionalpolitikens Geografi, Lund: Studentlitteratur.


Syssner, J. (2007) ’Top Down Regionalism? - Methodological implications in studies of regionalism.’, paper presented at 4th ECPR General Conference, Pisa, Italy.

Syssner, J. (2007) ‘Definitions of Regionalism’, presentation at Nordic Geographers Meeting, Bergen, Norway, June 2007.

Syssner, J. (2007) ‘Conceptualisations of Regional Culture’, paper presented at Historikerdagarna, Lund, Sweden.


Syssner, J. (2006), What Kind of Regionalism? – Regionalism and Region Building in Northern European Peripheries, Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang Publ. (ISBN 3-631-55201-7). 

Syssner, J. (2006), ’Review on ’Voices from the North – New Trends in Nordic Human Geography’’, Regional and Federal Studies, nr 1(06), Taylor and Francis.

2005 och tidigare

Süssner, J. (2005), ‘Cultural Hierarchies’, paper presented at ECPR Conference Regional Identities, Cultures and Images – a path to Regional Development?, Norrköping, Sweden.

Süssner, J. (2005), ’Review on ’Culture and Regional Economic Development in Europe’’, Regional and Federal Studies, nr 2/05, Taylor and Francis.

Süssner, J. (2003), ’Nyregionalismens organisatoriska landskap’, Nordisk Samhällsgeografisk Tidskrift, 35. 

Süssner, J. (2002), ’Culture, Identity and the Region’, Informationen zur Raumentwicklung, Nr 3, Bonn. 

Süssner, J. (2002), ‘New Regionalism and Cultural Policy’, paper presented at European Culture in a Changing World: Between Nationalism and Globalism, ISSEI Conference, Aberystwyth, Wales.

Süssner, J. (2001), ‘The Regional Self’, paper presented at International Critical Geographers Conference, Oslo, Norway.

Süssner, J. (2000), ’Review on ’Rethinking the Region’’, Geografiska Annaler B, nr 3/4, Routledge.

Süssner, J. (2000), ’Regionen som identitetspolitiskt projekt’, Nordisk Samhällsgeografisk Tidskrift, 31.

Süssner, J. (2000), ’Regionens politiska geografi’ in Lundén, T. & Öberg, S. (red.), Politisk Geografi, Uppsala Universitet, Kulturgeografiska Institutionen, Nr 111: Uppsala