"Leitbilder" in "energy regions" or how to co-ordinate technical change

In three Austrian regions, which call themselves "energy regions", the processes leading to the formulation of common visions or "leitbilder" is analysed and the impact is assessed such "leitbilder" can have on technical change on the regional scale. On this basis and with help of external consulters adapted communication and network strategies are developed and examined with regard to transferable elements.

Short Description




Problem & Motivation

Where a co-ordination of different actors is necessary, but not feasible through direct control or market mechanism, "leitbilder" or "guiding principles" are frequently as an instrument of governance: For the strategic orientation of companies, for urban and regional planning and in the regional realisation of goals for sustainability (LA21).

Also in the field of (sustainable) technology development a strong focus has recently been put on the function of guiding principles. In calls of the programme "Energy Systems of the Future" one can find several terms which have the potential to serve as such guiding principles. Some of them already have a coordinating function (energy autonomy, polygeneration, distributed generation, virtual power stations etc.).

To achieve the aims of the programme (to facilitate the development of sustainable energy systems) it would be helpful, if specific "leitbilder" could coordinate the actions of a broad range of actors in technology development and implementation. For distributed energy technologies the implementation at the regional level is of particular importance.


The aim of the project is to examine the potential of the regional application of "leitbilder" on the way towards sustainable energy systems in an exemplary learning process involving selected "energy regions". The analysis of the case studies and of relevant success factors served as a basis for the development of improved communication and network strategies for the individual "Energy Regions", and provided a source for considerations on transferable elements, crucial preconditions and guidelines for such processes.

Guiding questions

  • (How) can "leitbilder" coordinate concrete decisions and impact on technical change on a regional level?
  • What are crucial preconditions for the success of Energy Regions?
  • Which structures of actor networks are - under what circumstances - most successful?
  • Which communication strategies are - under what circumstances - most effective?
  • How can provincial governments and R&D programmes support the development of "leitbilder" and their use for the governance of technological development (towards sustainability)?


In selected regions an exemplary learning process was initiated, reflected and documented. The main actors of the energy regions exchanged their perceptions about the history of the individual "leitbild" processes and their impact upon technical change. They were supported by experts on regional development and communication strategies as well as by social scientists from a variety of fields.

Finally, the possibilities for replication in other regions were assessed and conclusions with regard to the options for relevant R&D programmes were derived.


Actors of regional development are provided with inspirations for the design of regional "leitbild" processes and respective communication and networking strategies.

A contribution was made to regional studies and technology studies by adding an empirical study of certain types of "leitbild" processes combined with the development of related actor networks and an assessment of their impact on technical change.

Persons in charge for sustainable energy research or for energy policy and regional planning are provided with insights concerning their possibilities to facilitate the development of sustainable energy systems by the support of certain "leitbild" and networking processes.

Project Partners

Project management

Philipp Späth M.A.
IFZ - Interuniversitäres Forschungszentrum für Technik, Arbeit und Kultur, Graz

Project and cooperation partners

  • Ökologie-Institut
  • ARC Systems Research
  • Florian Faber Communications Consulting
  • Energievision Murau
  • Wärmeschiene Salzburg-Hallein
  • Energieregion Weiz-Gleisdorf
  • Energieregion Oststeiermark

Contact Address

Philipp Späth M.A.
Schlögelgasse 2, 8010 Graz, Austria
Tel.: ++43 (316) 813 909-22
E-Mail: spaeth@ifz.tugraz.at