'Competing regionalisation' through territory and cluster networks: experiences from post-socialist Eastern Germany

Herrschel, T. 2005. 'Competing regionalisation' through territory and cluster networks: experiences from post-socialist Eastern Germany. GeoJournal. 62 (1-2), pp. 59-70.

Title'Competing regionalisation' through territory and cluster networks: experiences from post-socialist Eastern Germany
AuthorsHerrschel, T.
Abstract

'New regionalism' has become a buzzword in current debates on regions and regional governance. Much of this discussion revolves around the 'right' scale and structure of regional governance, implying changes to the ways in which the conventional main variables institutions, hierarchy and territoriality interact to circumscribe 'regions'. The main difference between 'old' and 'new' regionalism is the degree of variability and responsiveness to locational strategies by businesses, i.e. essentially relative regional competitiveness, and thus by implication the question of territoriality and boundedness. Evidence ‘on the ground’ among policy makers, however, suggests that the changes may go further than theoretical arguments with their emphasis on territory and scale (Brenner, 2000, 2003) are suggesting. Much of the difference revolves around the distinction between technocratic, planning focused and firmly institutionalised understandings of territorially fixed regions within a government structure on the one hand, and more purpose driven, flexible, and inherently temporary and variable arrangements outside fixed government structures, whose territoriality is composed of the varying spatial background of the participating actors. Here, regional territoriality is an incidental rather than determining factor.

The cleavage between 'old' and 'new' regionalism has become particularly obvious in post-socialist eastern Germany, where staid forms of traditional institutionalism and territorial governance had been transferred from 'west' to 'east'. Increasingly, these arrangements appeared inadequate to respond to the vast and spatially widely varying challenges of post-socialist restructuring. The result has been a tentative emergence of new forms of regionalisation in between, and in addition to, the established 'old regionalist' approaches. Evidence from eastern Germany suggests that 'new' is not necessarily replacing 'old' regionalism' in the wake of a shift in paradigm, but rather that the two coexist, with new forms of regionalisation sitting within established conventional territorial-administrative arrangements. This points to the emergence of a dual track approach to regionalisation, sometimes covering the same territory, more often relating to variably sized areas that overlap. Both forms of regionalisation aim at an internal and external audience, using varying images and employing different sets of actors when dealing with the two main sources/directions of consumption: internal (local) and external (corporate, competitive). By their very nature, however, these processes are varied and differ between places, rooted in particular local-regional constellations of policy-making pressures, actor personalities and established ways of doing things. This paper examines such processes for two regions in eastern Germany, both with distinctly different economic traditions and geographical contexts, aiming to illustrate the multi-layered process of regionalisation and region making. Inevitably, within the scope of this paper, the study cannot cover all possible models and regionalisation approaches across eastern Germany, because they not only differ between places, but also over time.

JournalGeoJournal
Journal citation62 (1-2), pp. 59-70
ISSN0343-2521
YearJan 2005
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1007/s10708-005-8626-3
Publication dates
PublishedJan 2005

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