Social learning in transnational projects – lessons from European territorial cooperation projects
Keywords:Regional Development, Old Industrial Regions, Regeneration, Strategy Development, Regional Learning
Old industrial regions in Europe have undergone radical changes in the last decades. After downsizing or closure of predominant industries such regions usually face big challenges concerning their economic, social and ecological futures. One chance to master this transformation process is the identification and sustainable utilisation of potentials left by industrial production. Utilisation of regional potentials, commonly categorized as natural and cultural potentials, was the aim of two transnational cooperation projects ReSource and SHIFT-X, which were both funded by European Union’s Development Fund (ERDF, INTERREG IVB).
The paper shows how the involvement of research partners in the projects supported and facilitated joint learning effects and knowledge transfer between all project partners. It is argued that on the one hand such an approach offers important mutual benefits for partners, while on the other hand the realisation of such benefits remains a challenging task in a transnational collaboration. In declining industrial regions, especially when characterised by small- and medium-sized towns, the capacities to act are scarce and any outside intervention is often seen more as an unwanted factor that additionally stretches resources and provides little advantages for such regions. Therefore one of the main aims in transnational collaboration has to be the establishment of a trustful and committed working relation between all partners. The engagement in the projects has shown that the joint work between regional actors and the external academic partners can create important transnational learning effects for all involved; nevertheless it has to overcome certain reservations on all sides before innovative ways can be pursued successfully.
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