Markku Sotarauta () and Markus Grillitsch ()
Markku Sotarauta: Tampere University, Postal: Finland
Markus Grillitsch: CIRCLE, Lund University, Postal: CIRCLE - Centre for Innovation Research, Lund University, PO Box 117, SE-22100 Lund, Sweden
Abstract: The regional development studies community increasingly considers the significance of agency when working to reveal the secrets of local and regional development. While the rapidly emerging literature on agency has increased our understanding of what people do or fail to do for their regions, many scholars have faced challenges incorporating novel conceptual lenses in a discipline more accustomed to studying structures. With the aim to contribute to a collective learning process, we analyze 27 review reports received for a special issue in Regional Studies on “Agency and Regional Development Against All Odds”. We found challenges, for instance, related to articulating the contribution, conceptual layering and drift, and slippery research questions. These three challenges point to the need to decide on the main concept and theory (the hero of the dish), which is particularly challenging and daunting when it requires sacrificing safe conceptual terrain and exploring a more unknown, emerging field. The authors of the special issue have responded brilliantly to the reviewers’ recommendations and with these reflections, we hope to share this learning experience. The work, however, continues - to improve our capacity to study human agency, we must take pains to clarify meta-theoretical commitments, elaborate middle-range theories, and experiment with a variety of methods. The growing body of work on the relationships between human agency and structures is an exciting ontological, theoretical, and methodological programme in the making.
9 pages, June 2, 2023
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