The ACORE project goes to the RSA CEE conference ’ Bridging Old and New Divides: Global Dynamics & Regional Transformations’ in Leipzig, 14.09. – 16.09.2022

We aim to deliver the results of our 4-year project focused on ’Agents of change in old industrial regions’ and open up a discussion on agency, regional development, the multiple paths and dilemmas of recovery in industrial regions moreover, share our thoughts on the relevance of powerful concepts and combined methodologies in non-metropolitan, non-core, (post)industrial contexts. 

Please, join us in the sessions organised by the project partners! 

SS12. Agency and Regional Development in a Changing World (open session)

Session organisers: Markus Grillitsch, Lund University, Sweden; Linda Stihl, Lund University, Sweden

SS14. Agents of Change in Old Industrial Regions of Europe (closed session)

Session organisers: Nadir Kinossian, Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography, Leipzig, Germany; Ani Saunders, Cardiff University, UK; Linda Stihl, Lund University, Sweden

SS15. Beyond Centralism v Localism: Local agency in the Multilevel Polity (open session)

Session organisers: Erika Nagy, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Hungary; Kevin Morgan, Cardiff University, UK; Ani Saunders, Cardiff University, UK

SS16. Human agency and capacity to act for regional development and sustainability (open session)

Session organisers: Vladan Hruška, Jan Evangelista Purkyně University in Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic; Melinda Mihály, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Békéscsaba, Hungary; Jan Píša, Jan Evangelista Purkyně University in Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic

SS17. Roundtable discussion: lessons learnt on methodology within the ACORE project (closed session)

Session organisers: Erika Nagy, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Békéscsaba, Hungary; Melinda Mihály, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Békéscsaba, Hungary

For further details please, go to the conference website:

https://www.regionalstudies.org/news/2022-rsa-cee-special-sessions/#

Regions in Recovery Second Edition 2022 online event series (21st March – 1st April 2022)

Project partners contributed to Regional Studies Association Regions in Recovery Second Edition 2022 online event series (21st March – 1st April 2022)

Special session ’Agents of change in old industrial regions’s (open session, 03.25. 9.00-11.00) https://events.rdmobile.com/Sessions/Details/1317182

Papers presented by ACORE partners:

  • Agents of change in old industrial regions of Europe by Nadir Kinossian, Melinda Mihály, Jan Píša, Linda Stihl, Ani Saunders
  • And an Agent of Change was Born… On the Role of Public Sector in Creation of Leaders in old Industrial Regions, by Jan Písa, Vladan Hruska
  • Investigating Change Agency Events – Towards a Research Agenda, by Markus Grillitsch, Josephine Rekers, et al.

Local policy workshop in Tatabánya

The first local policy workshop was organised by the Hungarian team on the 24th of February, 2022. The event was online and mobilized 22 participants including researchers, municipal officials and local NGOs.

The first session was focused on discussing the macro-context of local problems, such as industrial policy, environmental regulations, labour processes, social problems and housing crisis related to reindustrialization. In the second round, there was an open and lively discussion on local conflicts related to housing shortage and marginalization, old and new environmental conflicts moreover, to the unequal access to public services, and the limits of local community building.

The third round was organised thematically in chat rooms to identify agents, their resources, conflicts and cooperative actions in managing the social crisis and vast environmental problems. Working in small groups supported openness, connecting and discovering how networks could fill capacity gaps of various institutional agents.

Online project meeting (31.03-01.04. 2020)

Due to the restrictions on travel caused by the coronavirus pandemic, ACORE Cardiff team has organised an online project meeting. All project teams have participated in the meeting and contributed to the discussion on the progress of individual projects and the joint research.

The first-day programme focused on individual projects. Each researcher gave a brief account of the advancement of her/his research project, including advancing the theoretical argument, refining research questions, and settling the methodological framework. Moreover, they have summarised the progress of their empirical work and laid a plan for furthering field work, with a view of entering the analysis stage in 2020 and linking research to planned publication and dissemination activities. The discussion that followed the presentations revolved around the following key themes:

  1. conceptual issues such as defining change and development, relations of narratives and real-world processes, scalar-relational understanding of agency, and relating in-depth, locally-focused analysis to wider processes of change;
  2. Operationalising change, agency, structure and dealing issues of lagging indicator and attribution;
  3. problems of methodology such as choosing and combining relevant methods to grasp dynamic structure-agency relations, addressing gaps of data, and reflecting on the positionality of researcher and research ethics.

The second-day discussion focused on the overarching themes, joint publication and disseminations activities, and shared issues that researcher face during various stages of project work. The following topic appeared prominently in the discussion.

  1. developing the common conceptual framework further in order to respond to emerging issues, such as: agents and their relations, balancing national/locally focused case studies, and the overall international comparative approach;
  2. reflecting upon the emergent situations, such as the pandemic and its consequences, and the Brexit;
  3. planning and preparing joint publication activities, including an edited volume and a special issue.

Growth, polarization, depndencies – urban recovery and uneven development on the periphery (Békéscsaba, 06.December, 2019)

A workshop was co-organised by the network of economic geographers and the Centre for Economic and Regional Studies ACORE team to discuss the multiplicity of trajectories of economic recovery in old industrial towns, to reveal agencies and social relations driving reindustrialization, and highlight social and environmental conflicts stemming from change. The three cases (Tatabánya, Dunaújváros, Martfű) presented at the workshop embody different paths of re/industrialization, yet all faced deep and subsequent structural crises that were responded by local agents by mobilizing endogenous resources, their relational assets and external capital. The change raised new dependencies, inequalities and risks that question the sustainability of new economic trajectories and make the new centrality of the discussed towns ambiguous.

The discussion of diverse local trajectories and their national and global/peripheral context supported unfolding the ACORE case studies and developing the analytical framework for the field work results – considering the multiplicity of agencies, dependencies, and centralities/peripheralities, challenging binary thinking.

OECD-KDI Workshop on Innovation Diffusion (Paris, 13 December, 2019)

This workshop focused on diffusion of innovation at the regional and firm levels. While innovation is a key factor of productivity and long-term growth, the ability to innovate varies across regions and organisations and depends on the capacity to absorb external knowledge, the size of a firm, regional knowledge base, and institutional capacity of a region. As a rule, SMEs are not as innovative as ‘frontier’ firms because they are constrained by limited resources, the rigidity of the labour market, and poor connections to other firms and research centres. At the regional level, barriers to innovation diffusion include path-dependence and various lock-ins.

From ACORE’s perspective, research should engage more actively with less developed regions and sectors, instead of focusing on leading regions and frontier firms (and expecting ‘lagging’ regions and firms to catch up and replicate their success). We treat peripherality as a complex condition that involves multiple dependencies between ‘centres’ and ‘peripheries’. To understand the process of novelty creation in less developed regions, ACORE conceptualises innovation as inclusive, socially embedded, and actor-driven. Innovation should not be confined to firms, products, and processes but also include areas of governance, institutional design, and policy. ACORE contribution to the OECD workshop was provided by Nadir Kinossian.

Forthcoming conference papers by project partners

  • Píša, J. (2019) Looking for change in old-industrial towns: but what kind of change? 4th workshop of the Young Economic Geographers Network (YEGN) Regional Development and Peripheral Regions held at Umeå University, 20th-21st of August 2019.
  • Nagy, E, Nagy, G. (2019) Consumption-centred urban restructuring as a source for citizenship? Understanding state-society relations in a peripheral context. RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, London 27th-30th of August, 2019.
  • Mihály, M. (2019) Mapping the environmental and social conflicts of the economic restructuring in a formerly model socialist city. 8th International Urban Geographies of Post-communist States Conference, Belgrade, Sept. 25-29, 2019
  • Nagy, E, Nagy, G. (2019) The visible hand in the making of CEE periphery: state agency and unfolding multiple dependencies in non-metropolitan industrial enclaves in Hungary. 8th International Urban Geographies of Post-communist States Conference, Belgrade, Sept. 25-29, 2019

A workshop on social agencies in local development at Corvinus University, Buadpest

A joint workshop of ‘Socio-spatial inequalities’ horizontal network of CERS HAS and the Corvinus University, Budapest; organised by Melinda Mihály, focused on social social agencies in innovation and local economic restructuring; Corvinus University, Budapest, 30/05/2019; /for and overview, see:  http://www.rkk.hu/hu/vezeto_hirek/vitaules-a-tarsadalmi-innovacio-tarsadalmi-teruleti-aspektusairol.html