Local development policy of the periphery

I am assistant professor in human geography at the Center for Local Government Studies. As a researcher, I am primarily interested in local politics, planning and development in areas with geographical disadvantages.

In several studies, I have explored how political organizations translate ideas and visions about the future into practical action. Currently, I work in two main research fields:

The politics, voices and movements of the periphery

All over the world there are places that are slowly being inhabited by fewer and fewer people. Many such areas are characterized by so-called geographical disadvantages – for example, long distances, small domestic market, poorer access to services and low tax power. In my research, I strive to understand the policy and idea development that takes place in these geographies. Are there any ideas about development based on the conditions of the peripheral locations? How do parallel and competing stories about the people who live and work in the periphery arise and work? When and why is the periphery portrayed as entrepreneurial and creative, as nationalist, traditional and conservative, or as a place of sustainability and green transition? What political values and ideas are expressed by citizens engaged in local politics in these areas?

During the end of 2022, I will start the study Goals for local development in areas with geographical disadvantages. Here I examine what goals are formulated for the local development work in areas with geographical disadvantages. How do development policy goals arise and what support do these goals have? Do the goals differ between places? Do different actors give voice to different goals? Are the goals linked to the geographical conditions? If so, how - in what way? The study is financed by Länsförsäkringar's research fund.

Local development policy and planning

In the work on my thesis What kind of regionalism? I established an interest in local and regional development policy. I have developed that further in several different studies since then. At poresent, I follow a government initiative launched in 2018, which meant that 39 municipalities in support area A are awarded just under two million kroner each per year, to work with business development and business climate. I examine what the municipalities choose to do with these funds, and how they justify their choice of interventions. The study is financed by the Swedish Agency for Growth.
In a smaller project, together with Ulf Ramberg at Lund University, I investigate how the conditions for the creation and execution of the municipal mission vary between different municipalities with different demographic and structural conditions. Creation of policy focuses on the early stages of local politics, such as agenda setting, negotiation, problem formulation, etc. The implementation of policy focuses on how political decisions are introduced in the organization, from how resources are prioritized and responsibilities are distributed to follow-up. The study is financed by Kommuninvest.






Researchers in collaboration

Publications, in selection

ORCID 0000-0001-7607-7029

Publications in DiVA

2020 (coming)

Syssner, J. (in press). Pathways to Demographic Adaptation. Perspectives on Policy and Planning in Depopulating Areas in Northern Europe. Springer International Publishing, doi 10.1007/978-3-030-34046-9


Svensson & Syssner (2019) Den platsskapande strategen: ett aktörsperspektiv på hur turistiska platser blir till, i Wall-Reinius, S. & Heldt Cassel, S. (Eds.). Turismen och resandets utmaningar, Ymer 139. Svenska sällskapet för antropologi och geografi: Ödeshög. ISBN 978-91-982150-5-2.

Syssner, J., & Olausson, A. (2019). Att främja utveckling inom besöksnäringen. I Entreprenörskap för en levande landsbygd : 15 texter om landsbygdsutveckling och entreprenörskap i Norrland (pp. 279–294). Familjen Kamprads stiftelse


Syssner, J. Mindre många, Årsta 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