The Stuttgart metropolitan region is part of the federal state of Baden-Württemberg (south-western Germany) and consists of the administrative counties 1 Ludwigsburg, Rems-Murr, Göppingen, Esslingen, Böblingen and the city of Stuttgart at its centre (see figure 10.1). Thinking in terms of a Stuttgart metropolitan region - and not only in terms of different administrative counties and municipalities - is a rather new phenomenon: it dates back only to the early 1990s when the term was coined in the context of the reorientation of spatial planning policy in Germany and Baden-Württemberg. Since then, such metropolitan regions as Stuttgart, Rhine-Main, Hamburg and Berlin are seen as motors of socio-economic development in the process of European integration. The hope is that the Stuttgart metropolitan region will act as a catalyst for economic competitiveness and foster the integration of other regions in Baden-Württemberg into the European economy. To support this goal, an institutionalisation in the form of the Association of the Stuttgart Region has taken place in order to let the economic region - as regional actors emphasise - speak with one political voice.
The Stuttgart metropolitan region and its Association of the Stuttgart Region (Verband Region Stuttgart, VRS) are an example for the reorganisation of inherited political boundaries in response to the challenges of the economic restructuring and regionalisation of socio-economic relations. In that sense, the VRS is an example of the new institutional and governance structures created to complement and improve traditional forms of politico-spatial organisation. The VRS should be seen as an attempt to innovate and increase the effectiveness of politico-administrative and planning structures in order to mobilise regional potentials in the context of locational competition for investments and jobs.
In the following sections, I will sketch the trends in the Stuttgart metropolitan region in recent decades. I will then describe the paradigm shift which made possible the institutionalisation of the VRS and the establishment of new