Influencing socio-technical change by promoting technical visions in regional discourses

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.


Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology



  • Austrian Institute for Ecology, Salzburg
  • ARC Systems Research, Vienna
  • three price awarding ‘Energy Regions’in Styria and Salzburg

On this basis and with help of external consulters adapted communication and network strategies are developed and examined with regard to transferable elements. Where a governance of different actors is necessary, but not feasible through direct control or market mechanism, often “leitbilder” or “guiding principles” are used for coordination: for a 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 recently a strong focus is 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 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 many actors in technology development and implementation. For distributed energy technologies the implementation on regional level is particularly important. Aim of the project is to examine the possibility and success factors for regional application of ‘leitbilder’ on the way towards sustainable energy systems in an exemplary learning process of selected ‘energy regions’. The analysis and reflection of the case studies will lead to adapted communication and network strategies, which will be examined for transferable elements. Guiding questions:

  • Can ‘leitbilder’ coordinate action and impact on technical change on a regional level?
  • Which communication and network strategies can support these functions?
  • How can 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 is initiated, reflected and documented. The main actors of the energy regions exchange about the history of the individual ‘leitbild’ processes and their impact on technical change. They are supported by experts on regional development, communication strategies and others.
Finally possibilities for replication in other regions will be assessed and conclusions with regard to the options for relevant R&D programmes are derived. Expected results: Actors of regional development are provided with inspirations for the design of regional ‘leitbild’ processes and respective communication and network strategies.
Regional studies and technology studies are taken further by adding an empirical study of ‘leitbild’ processes and an assessment of their impact on technical change.
Persons in charge for sustainable energy research (BMVIT and other) get an insight in their possibilities to facilitate the development of sustainable energy systems by informed support of ‘leitbilder’ and their regional implementation.