Special Sessions - Cluj 2017

Regional Polarisation and Unequal Development in CEE: Challenges for Innovative Place-based Policies

The role of state in cross-border cooperation. Experience of cross-border cooperation in Central & Eastern Europe.

Session organiser(s)

Dr. Edit Soós, University of Szeged, Hungary

The purpose of the session is to give an overview of the development of cross-border cooperation in Central & Eastern European (CEE) border areas, focusing on the problems and obstacles of the consolidation and institutionalisation of cross-border cooperation from a multidisciplinary perspective.

The main objective is to determine the condition and dynamics of the development of networks of cross-border cooperation arising in Central & Eastern European countries. The session is looking for the answer to what extent the development of cross-border relations is influenced by state-centred traditions of the region.

It addresses the question whether institutional conditions are available for the role of the cross-border cooperation, and which of the levels of the public administration is suitable for realising national/subnational purposes within the changed economic, societal and political frameworks of the border areas in CEE.

The objective of the session is not only to summarize the European and domestic legal norms, forums and institutions which can accelerate the development of political, economic and social networking in a border area, but also to draw attention to the problem why the regional and local governments on the external border of the European Union cannot achieve their aspirations? 

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Contemporary theories of space and spatiality and their application in practice.

Session organiser(s)

Institute for Regional Studies, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences (László Faragó)

In Central Eastern Europe due to ideological path-dependence, positivist, materialist, realist and structuralist perspectives have continued to dominate the social sciences, including disciplines concerned with aspects of space and spatial development. It is crucial to broaden the scope of thinking about space among scholars, policy-makers, as well as the broader public. The session reviews the most significant international streams of thinking about space and will examine their practical relevance in the CEE context. The key questions are the following:

Which are the most influential international currents of thought concerning the theorization of space and spatiality, and which theoretical perspectives shape regional development practice.
How do these theoretical perspectives appear in policy and planning practice in CEE.

To what extent are the perspectives in question applicable to the post-socialist context, and in what way can they be rethought so that we can gain a better understanding of sociospatial phenomena in this context?
What “kind of” sociospatial inquiries, methods might be relevant in the Central and Eastern European perspective?

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Sustainable development goals and an equitable, efficient and responsive health system for Central and Eastern European nations

Session organiser(s)

dr.(med.) Pavitra Paul, PhD

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is having its moment in the spotlight and the attention for health is competing with other issues demanding global attention. The continued expansion of emerging economies with interconnectedness across nations and sectors demands health in the post-2015 development agenda to be linked with other global governance processes—such as trade, investment, environment, and security—that profoundly affect health. A broader conceptualization of the major shifts that is taking place in the global distribution of resources and wealth, power and influence, capabilities and needs makes clear that health and sustainable development are inseparable.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, most of the Central and Eastern European (CEE) country(s) inherited a health system that is high in capacity but low in performance (efficiency, equity and responsiveness). Amidst uncertainties inherent with sudden integration to market capitalism, these countries have initiated reforms (financial, organization and governance) in various dimensions and in different combinations of their health system(s). Over the last two and half decades, the intended effects of such reforms are found to be a mixed one and thus this session aims at

1. examining alignment of in-country developmental goals with the need of health system (s) for CEE countries


2. identifying the best practices in health systems’ reforms indulged in CEE country(s) and exploring channels for dissemination of such practices with other nation(s) in the block when the contexts are same and the characteristics of the health systems are similar.

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The role of institutional entrepreneurship in the context of transition economies

Session organiser(s)

Jurgita Staniulyte, University of Leeds, UK

High efficiency and high quality economic and social development is one common goal for Central and Eastern European economies against the international benchmark. All CEEs face similar issues such as the lack of scale for investments in scientific research, innovative infrastructure or high tech manufacturing. The motivation for the session is to analyse why these countries still lag behind despite having full access to free markets, top scientific knowledge and the European Union (EU) funds. There is no clear explanation of this European paradox in academic literature.

CEEs were analysed by economists as transition states 25 years ago, but based on the recent literature, one may assume that the transition period has ended long time ago. Currently these countries are analysed in comparison to mature and developed economies of the EU. However, relatively poor innovative performance shows that innovation systems of these countries are still in transition. These counties caught up with the technological upgrading, but still lag behind the top European innovators in knowledge building, quality of institutions, and effectiveness of policies, creativity and entrepreneurial culture. Could institutional entrepreneurship be the key instrument for faster transformation of post socialist economies?

The institutional quality problem has been acknowledged in innovation literature of transition countries for many years. However, institutional entrepreneurship has never been analysed as a solution. Many scholars propose to focus on new long term laws (like changes in education system, cohesion policy etc.) to address barriers of transformation. However, the most recent literature reveals that institutional entrepreneurship might be a more effective and a quicker solution. The EU laws and funds contributed to institutional changes and processes, but 25 years later many institutional inefficiencies still exist, because of individual factors like the old post-soviet mindset and low motivation to change resulting in lack of relevant skills and entrepreneurial culture.

The session invites qualitative case studies and conceptual papers to analyse the role of individual agent in institutional change and better policy creation within the context of a transition economy. How could we relate institutional entrepreneurship (academic entrepreneurship etc.) with various gaps in capabilities, coordinated policies, more equal development? 

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Job Protection (EPL) sectoral and local adjustments – instrument in view to accelerating eco-innovation implementation

Session organiser(s)

Cristina Lincaru, Vasilica Ciucă, Speranța Pirciog, Draga Atanasiu

National Scientific Research Institute for Labor and Social Protection - INCSMPS, Bucharest, Romania

Krugman, Venables and Fujita (1999) in New Economy of Geography explains how the production is heterogeneously distributed in space. Morreti (2012) that high skilled agglomerations are the main factor of the “great divergence in the USA. Differences in development are explained in Evolutionary Economic Geography (EEG) literature in relation to the degree of “novelty” to the region.

Following the crises, recovery starts but with ”fragile growth and structural weaknesses” [COM(2016) 812 final] Dauderstädt et al. (2016) points that there is  No Progress on Social Cohesion in Europe but more ” Rising Inequality at National Level.”

The growth model is in trend to change. Capello et. al, (2013, p. 20) Eastern regions have moved from an exogenously driven phenomenon, mostly based on FDI attractiveness, to a more endogenous pattern of growth, led by local, intangible structural assets,  like (formal and informal) knowledge. The knowledge economy is shaping a new structure and launched the new protectionism announced by Druker since 2001 and World Bank Group Flagship Report (2016, p.5)

Jobs Protection EPL (European Commission, 2016 and LABREF database, DG EMPL, European Commission)

On the new background: a new way of thinking work: learning is work – ILO (ILO, 2013a, and ICLS-Resolution-I, 2013), underutilization of labor force (WEF, 2016), aging population and deficit of specialized skills;

Has to support: Eco-innovation [EcoAP- COM (2011) 899] as a double positive externality instrument (Rennings, 1998, p.9) strongly differentiate by industry (OECD, 2012) and its technological wave, process to increase the local resilience and competitivity in the global framework.

How - Solution:  Job Protection (EPL) sectoral and local adjustments – instrument in view to accelerating eco-innovation implementation, through:

work and skills upgrading according to the local profile;
smart job protection  for the IVth Industrial Wave (WEF b, 2016);
spatial integrated and simplified Labour Market Policies.

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Regional Characterization, Resilience and Territorial Policy Implications in CEE

Session organiser(s)

Monica Răileanu Szeles (Transilvania University of Brasov, and Institute for Economic Forecasting, Bucharest, Romania), Nicola Pontarollo (JRC, European Commission, Italy), Claudia Baranzelli (JRC, European Commission, Italy), Carolina Serpieri (JRC, European Commission, Italy), Carlo Lavalle (JRC, European Commission, Italy)

During the last years the European Union (EU) has been hit by the probably most severe crisis in its history. The roots of that crisis are related to a combination of macroeconomic conditions, structural and territorial factors alike and have exacerbated the unbalanced territorial disparities, especially in the countries of the EU’s periphery.
The capacity of countries and regions to withstand or recover from a crisis, i.e. resilience, is very heterogeneous across Europe. This represents a challenge to EU institutions, which are rethinking the foundations of their major policies: competitiveness, macro-monetary and cohesion. These policies i) need to be able to recognise and take into account the factors that affect development either positively or negatively, in order to set up the right criteria for a sustainable economic development; and ii) have to be tailored in function to the specificities of each territory, in order to exploit its endogenous potential.
Several definitions of resilience can be found in the literature, among which Martin and Sunley (2014, p. 13) proposed the following: “the capacity of a regional or local economy to withstand or recover from market, competitive and environmental shocks to its developmental growth path, if necessary by undergoing adaptive changes to its economic structures and its social and institutional arrangements, so as to maintain or restore its previous developmental path, or transit to a new sustainable path characterized by a fuller and more productive use of its physical, human and environmental resources”. In this context, we invite to submit research papers which discuss and/or contribute to the
understanding of regional resilience in Central Eastern Europe regions (CEE). This session welcomes papers that discuss the topic of resilience in CEE, in particular with focus on:
a) First and second geography factors
b) How to identify and measure resilient regions/cities
c) Resilient regions/cities in CEE
d) Policy interventions and endogenous regional characteristics
e) Interdependency between regions and cities
Submission and Deadlines
Please note that all submissions have to undergo the usual selection process. Accepted papers will be allocated a 15 minutes time slot for presentation and discussion and are assigned a formal discussant. An extended abstract (2,000 words including contribution, theoretical framework, empirical approach and/or first results) or a draft paper (between 5,000 and 10,000 words) has to be submitted before the deadline of 23rd May 2017.

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Socio-economic and Political Responses to Regional Polarisation in Romania

Session organiser(s)

József Benedek, Cristian Litan, Egon Nagy, Ștefana Varvari, Blanka Bartók, Ibolya Török, Csongor Máthé, Aura Moldovan, Sorin Cebotari (Babeș-Bolyai University)

The special sessions proposes the dissemination of the main results generated by the Romanian participants in the Marie Curie ITN FP 7 People project “Socio-economic and Political Responses to Regional Polarisation in Central and Eastern Europe” (RegPol²). The sessions will focus on two main topics: 1. The role played by renewable energy in local and regional development; 2. The interrelations between territorial mobility (migration and commuting) in the production and reproduction of core-periphery structures. Both topics will be focused on the special case of Romania.

Submission guidelines

This is a closed session.

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Social innovation

Session organiser(s)

Prof. Dr. Károly Balaton, Prof. Dr. József Benedek  (Miskolc University)

There was a paradigm shift in the research of innovation in the last years. The literature pays increasing attention on the research of social innovation, because:

the importance and significance of social innovation was increased, especially in the regions with disadvantaged situation;
 the economic and natural science based innovations reproduce some social problems, which can be answered only with the help of social innovation;
so there should be created a strong symbiosis between the social and engineering, natural science based innovations.

It is not occasional, that the European Union has built the support of generating social innovations in the priorities of the 2014-2020 programming period.

The section would like to give opportunity for the experts of social innovation to present their results, with special regards on:

the measurement of social innovation potential,
generating social innovations,
the sustainability and best practices of social innovation.

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Widening Bottlenecks to Promote the Catching Up of Lagging Regions

Session organiser(s)

Jozsef Benedek (Babeș-Bolyai University) and Alexander Lembcke (OECD)

This session discusses how the impact of macroeconomic imbalances (e.g. exchange rates, public debt, unit labour costs, etc.) and structural policies (employment legislation, product market regulation, etc.) differs across regions. The focus will be on how regions that are the most “lagging” behind are affected and on what strategies national, regional and local policy makers can adopt to widening the bottlenecks they face in catching up to their country’s better performing regions.

The OECD Regional Outlook 2016: Productive Regions for Inclusive Societies highlights the fact that while differences across countries declined, the productivity gap across regions within countries has grown. The productivity gap between the top‑performing regions and most other regions widened by 60% over the last two decades. Those regions falling further behind their national “frontier”, where one in four people of the OECD live, would need to quadruple their current growth rates to catch up by 2050.

But many regions are able to unlock their growth potential and show “catching‑up dynamics”, i.e. they are narrowing the gap to their country’s most productive regions. A common characteristic among both rural and urban regions that are catching is that a significant share of their economy is in tradable sectors. These are sectors that are exposed to global competition, i.e. in manufactured goods, mining or services that can be traded internationally. It is therefore important to understand what economic framework conditions and policies contribute to the catching up of lagging regions and the development of a dynamic and thriving tradable sector.

Submissions of presentations focusing on socio-economic situation of lagging regions and their future development prospects are welcomed.

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