Regional Development and Regional Policy

Research and teaching of regional politics, policy and development at the University of Oulu focus on regional transformation. The processes of regional transformation touch upon multiple societal and cultural processes that are closely related to transformations in political economy, the state, governmental rationalities and political decision-making. Thus, the regional transformation can be studied from a variety of angles of human geography and by utilizing diverse methods and research materials. From the transformation perspective, regional development and policy is inescapably an interdisciplinary field, not a “property” of any institutionalized discipline. The staff of the regional politics/policy and development currently focuses on the following research themes:


  • Transformation of regional policies and associated governmental rationalities in Finland, the European Union and in the Nordic and Arctic contexts
  • Transformation of regional political ideas and concepts
  • Spatial dynamics of various economic imaginaries, e.g. the knowledge-based economy, the bioeconomy, and diverse economies.
  • Inter-regional and international mobilities and security-resilience nexus in regional development and regional policy
  • Implications of state transformation to spatial planning and to the planning institutions


All political decision making has spatial or regional dimension. This is the main reason why historically the study of regional politics, policy and development has had intimate connections with political power. We believe that the interaction between policy circles and the academic scholars of the regional politics, policy and development must be based on thorough theoretical, conceptual and empirical work. The primary goal of the study of regional politics, policy and development at the University of Oulu is therefore to produce both theoretical and empirical knowledge on regional transformation and publish these insights in international academic forums, especially in conferences and in high quality journals. This kind of work has policy relevance that can be utilized by decision makers and officials in their efforts to manage and govern regions and places in a complex world.


Eeva-Kaisa Prokkola Prokkola Eeva-Kaisa (professor, docent) is a human geographer with special emphasis on regionalization processes, region-building, regional identity, border regions, Europeanization, security-resilience nexus and the political economy of international mobilities.  She has previously published papers on issues of border regions, regionalization, EU multilevel governance and regional development programs (INTERREG), and Finnish border and migration policy in journals such as Political Geography, Antipode, Citizenship Studies, Environment and Planning A, European Urban and Regional Studies, Geopolitics, Space & Polity, Journal of Borderlands Studies and Tourism Geographies. She is currently a vice director and senior researcher in a multidisciplinary research consortium “Multilayered Borders of Global Security” that is funded by the Academy of Finland’s Strategic Research Council (2016-2019).

Fredriika Jakola Jakola Fredriika (doctoral student) is a human geographer with a specialization in the fields of regional development and border region studies. She is currently finishing her PhD thesis which focuses on the influence of formal and informal institutions and their strategical mobilization in regional planning and policy transfer processes in the context of Finnish-Swedish border area.

Ville Kellokumpu Kellokumpu Ville is a political geographer working as a doctoral student at the Geography Research Unit. His research interests include the spatial governance of the state, regional and urban planning and policy, depoliticisation, political economy, state theory, hegemony, and political theory. The topic of his doctoral thesis focuses on depoliticisation as a state spatial strategy and how issues of public interest, hegemony building, city-regionalism, and the capitalist economy relate to it.

Marika Kettunen Marika Kettunen is a doctoral student at the Geography Research Unit. Her doctoral research focuses on spatial dynamics of education and youth in the context of regional transformation and spatial justice in Northern Finland. Kettunen’s research interests include tourism, its relation to regional and urban development, especially local participation through community-based approaches.

Vesa Väätänen Väätänen Vesa is a doctoral student student at the Geography Research Unit, and his key research interest is in political geography. His doctoral research focuses on the political geographies of the Arctic region and the multifarious political dimensions inherent in regionalization processes. These dimensions include power relations in supranational political space, spatial politics of sub-national political actors, and the intersection of geopolitics/geoeconomics in supranational state strategies. Väätänen has recently published an article in Territory, Politics, Governance (co-authored with Kaj Zimmerbauer; published online) and has a forthcoming article in Geopolitics.

Niina Kotavaara Niina Kotavaara (doctoral student) is interested in issues related to the attractiveness of regions, as part of the dynamics of regional development and regional policy. In her doctoral thesis, she studies the inter-regional and international mobility of skilled, highly educated workforce and the factors affecting it in Finland.




  • Ahlqvist, Toni & Sirviö, Heikki (2019) Contradictions of spatial governance: Bioeconomy and the Management of State Space in Finland. Antipode, doi: 10.1111/anti.12498
  • Hytönen, Jonne & Ahlqvist, Toni (2019). Emerging vacuums of strategic planning: an exploration of reforms in Finnish spatial planning. European Planning Studies. DOI:10.1080/09654313.2019.1580248
  • Hytönen, Jonne, Kotavaara, Niina, & Ahlqvist, Toni (2018) Elinvoiman askelmerkkejä ja ristiriitoja. Maankäytön suunnittelijoiden näkemyksiä kuntien tulevaisuudesta. ARTTU2-tutkimusohjelman julkaisusarja 5/2018. Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities.
  • Jakola, Fredriika & Eeva-Kaisa, Prokkola (2018). Trust building or vested interest? Social capital processes of cross-border cooperation in the border towns of Tornio and Haparanda. Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie 109 (2), 224-238.
  • Jakola, Fredriika (2018) Local responses to state-led municipal reform in the Finnish-Swedish border region: conflicting development discourses, culture and institutions. Fennia 196:2, 137-153.
  • Jakola, Fredriika (2016) Borders, planning and policy transfer: historical transformation of development discourses in the Finnish Torne Valley. European Planning Studies 24(10): 1806–1824.
  • Kivelä, Satu & Moisio, Sami (2017) The state as a space of health: on the geopolitics and biopolitics of health-care systems. Territory, Politics, Governance 5: 1, 28–46. DOI: 10.1080/21622671.2016.1158122.
  • Kivelä, Satu (2018a) Constructing the territorial state through the mundane: statization of everyday population health. Geografiska Annaler, Series B: Human Geography 100: 1, 25–41. DOI: 10.1080/04353684.2017.1368356.
  • Kivelä, Satu (2018b) Active citizenship, public sector and the markets: freedom of choice as a state project in health care. Geoforum 91: 160–169. DOI: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2018.03.006
  • Kotavaara, Niina, Kotavaara, Ossi, Rusanen, Jarmo & Muilu, Toivo (2018). University graduate migration in Finland. Geoforum 96, 97-107. DOI: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2018.07.010
  • Luukkonen, Juho & Sirviö, Heikki (2017) Kaupunkiregionalismi ja epäpolitisoinnin politiikka. Talousmaantieteellinen imaginaari aluepoliittisten käytäntöjen vastaansanomattomana viitekohteena. Politiikka 59:2, 114-132.
  • Martin, Lauren & Eeva-Kaisa, Prokkola (2017). Making labor mobile: Borders, precarity, and the competitive state in Finnish migration politics. Political Geography 60C, 143-153.
  • Prokkola, Eeva-Kaisa (2019). Border Cities. Teoksessa: A. Orum (toim.), The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Urban and Regional Studies (kutsuttu vertaisarvioitu artikkeli, julkaistaan 4/2019)
  • Prokkola, Eeva-Kaisa (2018). Geopolitics of border securitization: sovereignty, nationalism and solidarity in asylum reception in Finland. Geopolitics DOI:10.1080/14650045.2018. 1520213
  • Prokkola, Eeva-Kaisa & Juha Ridanpää (2017). Youth organizations, citizenship and guidelines for tourism in the wake of mass tourism. Citizenship Studies 21 (3), 359-377.
  • Prokkola Eeva-Kaisa, Zimmerbauer Kaj & Jakola Fredriika (2015). Performance of regional identity in the implementation of European Union’s cross-border initiatives. European Urban and Regional Studies 22 (1), 104–117.
  • Prokkola, Eeva-Kaisa (2013). Neoliberalizing Border Management in Finland and in Schengen. Antipode 45 (5), 1318–1336.
  • Prokkola, Eeva-Kaisa (2011). Cross-border regionalization, the INTERREG III A initiative, and local cooperation at the Finnish- Swedish border. Environment and Planning A 43, 1190-1208.
  • Prokkola, Eeva-Kaisa & Juha, Ridanpää (2011). Following the plot of Bengt Pohjanen's Meänmaa: narrativization as a process of creating regional identity. Social and Cultural Geography 12 (7), 775-791.
  • Prokkola, Eeva-Kaisa (2011). Regionalization, Tourism Development and Partnership in the North Calotte Sub-programme of INTERREG III North. Tourism Geographies 13 (4), 507-530.
  • Puustinen, S., Mäntysalo, R., Hytönen, J., & Jarenko, K. (2017). The “deliberative bureaucrat”: deliberative democracy and institutional trust in the jurisdiction of the Finnish planner. Planning Theory & Practice, 18(1), 71-88.
  • Sirviö Heikki (2018) Geopolitics of the Knowledge-based Economy by Sami Moisio.
  • Sirviö, Heikki (2015). Syrjäseutujen liian helppo elämä? Alue & ympäristö 44:1, 45-59.
  • Sirviö, Heikki (2014). Viiksimiesten maailmanpolitiikka. Kosmopolis 44:3–4, 96–111.
  • Sirviö, Heikki (2014). Rajanylityksen politiikat romaanissa Noitaympyrä. Tiede & edistys 39:4, 321–346.
  • Sirviö, Heikki (2013). Kokoaminen ja hävitys kolmessa polvessa. Haanpään Kolmen Töräpään tarina  ja Bataillen Tuhlauksen käsite. Niin & näin 20:4, 45-53.
  • Sirviö, Heikki (2013). Valtiomuutoksen satiirinen politisointi Mikko-Pekka Heikkisen romaanissa Terveiset Kutturasta. Politiikka 55: 2, 73–90.