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Metropolitan Studies and Structural Change

Regional Self-Organisation (1993- 1995)

Theories of self-organisation deal with complex structures and their internal correlations and control mechanisms which function independently of their environment and therefore cannot be controlled from the outside. Complexity is a nested, multi-layered network of interactions and feedbacks. Therefore complex societal phenomena cannot be controlled in a straightforward way by intervention. In the project 'Theory and Practice of Concepts of Regional Self-Organisation - New Institutions of Regional Development in North-Rhine Westphalia' regional institutions and actors as well as their organisational structures and interactions were studied to find out how they cope with complexity. It was also explored where potentials for regional self-organisation exist and under what conditions they can unfold. Interviews were conducted with representatives of new institutions (such as the Emscher-Lippe Agency, the Development Agency Östliches Ruhrgebiet or regional 'offices', 'secretariats' or 'coordination agencies') and representatives of public administrations (such as local government agencies for economic development or employment promotion or agencies of the state district governments). The study concluded that for some institutions it is difficult to develop internal self-organisation processes in order to act as catalysts and initiators of social and economic innovations. Only few institutions explicitly address and adopt new strategies based on reflection, self-actualisation, openness and self-organisation. It was found that those institutions are most likely to develop self-organisation potentials and creative ideas that act in a particularly difficult and complex action field, command a high degree of autonomy yet have only little resources, are not determined by specific prescriptions and regulations, do not try to displace internal and external difficulties and are operated by individuals who do not think and act in hierarchical terms. The project was funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. Principal researcher was Susanne Blaffert with contributions by Monika Schulte. A report (in German) is available (see Publications).

Contact: IRPUD Secretariat

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