Regional industrial transitions under multiscalar exnovation pressures (RITMEP)
Austrian Climate Research Programme, 15th Call, 2024-2027
Principal investigator: Michaela Trippl

Work package leaders: Michaela Trippl, Maximilian Benner, Sebastian Fastenrath

Under pressure to decarbonize the economy, regions with high intensities of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are particularly challenged to find suitable pathways towards industrial transition. Policies on various spatial scales (e.g., local environmental regulations, European Green Deal, EU taxonomy for sustainable activities), changing societal values, norms, and attitudes, and the increasingly tangible effects of climate change exert exnovation pressures on regional economies to phase out unsustainable industries, technologies, or practices. These exnovation pressures are “translated” into the specific context of GHG-intensive regions in contested processes, in which diverse actors seek to drive, consolidate, or resist change. Thereby, they shape context-specific decarbonization pathways that will differ from region to region. Understanding how these contested processes work is important for the design and implementation of place-based regional transition policies. The research project “Regional industrial transitions under multiscalar exnovation pressures (RITMEP)” aims at understanding how agents influence place-specific regional decarbonization pathways in response to multiscalar exnovation pressures. 

The project does so by pursuing three interrelated research questions: 

  • How are exnovation pressures “translated” into regional decarbonization pathways by actors from inside and outside of GHG-intensive regions? 
  • Which actors are driving, consolidating, or resisting change in contested processes towards regional decarbonization pathways, and what strategies and interventions underpin these forms of agency? 
  • How do these different forms of agency in different regional structural contexts (“structure-agency dynamics”) influence the development of regional decarbonization pathways? 

The project seeks to answer these questions through qualitative empirical research based on up to 60 semi-structured interviews and an ongoing content analysis of the national and regional discourse in a comparative set of three regional case studies in the following three GHG-intensive Austrian NUTS-3 regions: 

  • AT 315 Traunviertel (districts of Gmunden and Vöcklabruck) with industries such as cement and paper, 
  • AT 127 Wiener Umland Süd (districts Bruck an der Leitha and Mödling) with industries such as air transport, logistics, and petrochemicals, 
  • AT 121 Mostviertel-Eisenwurzen (districts of Amstetten, Melk, Scheibbs, and Waidhofen an der Ybbs) with industries such as metalworking and paper.

Industrial-institutional co-evolution in regional economies
Lise Meitner grant of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), Grant number M-2992, 2021-2023
Principal investigator: Maximilian Benner
Approved grant value: 175,780 EUR

How do regional economies develop differently, even within the same country and under the same policies? This is the basic question the research project on industrial-institutional co-evolution addresses by looking at the role of institutions such as mutual trust in business relationships, entrepreneurial attitudes, or entrepreneurs’ inclination to cooperate. At the same time, the role of individuals and their decisions in shaping these institutions is examined. The research design focuses on three regional economies in Israel, a country that has seen the rise a dynamic entrepreneurial scene during the past decades. The coastal city of Haifa is a traditional industrial center whose service sector is evolving. In the Northern city of Nazareth, a young scene of Arab entrepreneurs in the information and communication technology industry has emerged. Be’er Sheva in the Negev desert is developing into an important cybersecurity cluster. Together, these three empirical case studies allow for conclusions on how the same macro-level context can lead to different patterns of regional development and for why the impact of national policies differs between regions. In addition and partly drawing on earlier research, institutional foundations of path development in tourism in Israel are analyzed. Further, the inclusion of minorities into patterns of innovation and entrepreneurship is examined.