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Small towns, narrow space, and aspiring goals : An Austrian case study on how to integrate driving forces for a "smart region" into a regional development process

abstract The region Walgau has experienced a massive change over the past 50 years and doubled its population between 1951 and 2010. The small-scale structured settlement generates bottlenecks for example in infrastructure, administrative power, and land use patterns. The regional development process ‘Im Walgau' is aimed at handling this situation by increasing the cooperation between the 14 local municipalities. The process is characterized by a systemic approach. After a three years pilot phase funded by the federal state level a new association was created and started to continue the regional development process in 2012.
With respect to the idea of a 'smart region' a few components of the development process can be emphasized:
• The organisation of a multilevel governance structure to integrate the local, regional, and federal level using the 'Viable System Model' by Stafford Beer.
• The shift from a project- driven development process towards a consistent regional strategy using a cybernetic system model to gather and structure the information.
• The far-reaching time horizon partly dealing with a period of two generations (50 years) which includes a shift from anticipating the future development towards defining a desirable condition-to-be of the local community.
• And the integration of different target groups and the region's citizens using different (also web-based) methods of information, communication, and co-working which is also a question of how to advance from 'governance by government' to 'governance with government'.
The components seem to be able to foster a 'smart region' in the sense of minimizing the use of resources by processes of cooperation and compensation and by introducing new instruments into the regional governance structure. The approaches are not fundamentally new in regional science but constitute a huge challenge in practice. The challenge is not to introduce the use of a new instrument or methodology but to make it compatible with the rationality of day-to-day politics.
   
type conference paper (English)
   
keywords regional development, smart region
   
project Räumliches Entwicklungskonzept REK Walgau
name of conference RSA European Conference 2012 (Delft)
date of conference 14-5-2012
review not reviewed
   
citation Walser, M. (2012). Small towns, narrow space, and aspiring goals: An Austrian case study on how to integrate driving forces for a "smart region" into a regional development process. In .