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The role of higher education institutions in regional transition paths towards sustainability

Verena Radinger-Peer () and Gesa Pflitsch ()
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Verena Radinger-Peer: University of Natural Resoures and Life Sciences Vienna (BOKU)
Gesa Pflitsch: Philipps-University Marburg

Review of Regional Research: Jahrbuch für Regionalwissenschaft, 2017, vol. 37, issue 2, 161-187

Abstract: Abstract The present paper investigates the role of the located Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the transformation towards sustainability of the city of Linz as well as the region of Upper Austria. We argue that HEIs have the potential to spur a regional transition towards sustainability via the channels of teaching, research and outreach. We furthermore take into account that organisational- and field-level drivers influence the role of HEIs within the regional transition paths towards sustainability (RTPS). We chose an explorative research design in order to give a realistic picture of the potentials and limitations of HEIs’ involvement in regional transitions to sustainability. The role of the five HEIs located in the city of Linz is studied through in-depth expert interviews and a comprehensive document analysis. The investigation reveals that there is no contribution of HEIs as a whole to RTPS, but that the impact is dependent on individual highly engaged “frontrunners” enacting change and at the same time on leadership from the university management. Moreover, regulative drivers at the field-level and normative as well as cognitive drivers at the organisational-level affect HEIs’ contribution.

Keywords: Regional transition; Sustainability; Higher Education Institution; Organizational- and field-level drivers (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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Handle: RePEc:spr:jahrfr:v:37:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s10037-017-0116-9