Setting the course for lignite mining regions in transition – Unpacking the pre-formation phase of path creation
The current lignite exit in Germany has created a situation in which the dominant industrial path in lignite mining regions is removed and immense structural funds are turning these regions into playgrounds for new path creation. But which actors and processes shape the formulation of new path development? While existing research made great progress in retrospectively understanding path creation, the retrospective view overlooks why other potential paths did not successfully emerge. At this pre-formation stage, the design of policy interventions can play a decisive role for enabling or constraining regional path development as illustratively shown by the priority setting of certain domains within the smart specialization strategy. Therefore, this research project aims to investigate to what extent the configuration of regional policy-making processes in the Lausitz and Rhineland shape the direction of regional transformation strategies – i.e. the mechanisms of why the promotion of a certain path is selected over another. I plan to reconstruct key events in the formulation of the two regional transformation strategies by two means: First, I will reconstruct the policy networks using social network analysis techniques. Second, I will conduct expert interviews with various participants involved in the policy network to gather information about the governance of the priority setting, the agency and interactions of the various participants involved in the policy network as well as reasons for non-participation. This will show how diversification domains were developed and selected over others and consequently reveal the factors that have shaped the outcome of this multi-actor policy process.
“I am very honored for being awarded for the Regional Studies Association Early Career Grant. The support by the RSA will help me to explore how the configuration of regional policy-making processes shapes the direction of regional transformation strategies in lignite mining regions. I am looking forward to this great opportunity and being part of this vibrant community.”