Constructing regional development strategies a case study approach for integrated planning and synthesis

Alexander I. Walter, Arnim Wiek, Roland E. Scholz

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

8 Scopus citations


This article presents a transdisciplinary research approach illustrated by a case study on sustainable regional development in the Swiss canton Appenzell Ausserrhoden (AR). The canton is a typical central European rural landscape, struggling with problems of structural change and migration. Different industry sectors (timber, dairy farming and textile production), as well as different aspects of regional development (land use, mobility, landscape protection and tourism) were analysed in a two year transdisciplinary research project. Its goal was to generate cross-sectoral long-term development strategies based on different scenarios for future land use. The study shows that current development strategies will not lead to a desirable future state. There are several desirable developments, but clear political decisions are necessary for targeting a specific scenario. dent The project was jointly led by a professor of ETH Zurich and the governing chairman of AR. The study involved numerous officials and inhabitants of AR, as well as scientists and advanced students from different research institutes (citeauthorch14:scholz2002, citeyearch14:scholz2002; citeauthorch14:scholz2003, citeyearch14:scholz2003). The study combined teaching, research and application. dent The case study is presented as an example of the Transdisciplinary Integrated Planning and Synthesis (TIPS) approach (citeauthorch14:scholz2006, citeyearch14:scholz2006). TIPS is an approach to embed a formal, scientifically based, integrated planning approach into a real world setting, allowing for mutual learning among scientists and practitioners. It starts from a faceting of the case, then uses system analysis and scenario construction for the problem investigation procedure. In the problem transformation (or 'implementation') phase, the preferences of the stakeholders are evaluated through multi-criteria procedures and area development negotiation. The results from the different facets are integrated, and cross-sectoral development strategies for the case are formulated. dent The chapter gives an overview of the organisation, methodology and epistemology of the TIPS approach. The following three sections describe the transdisciplinary TIPS approach: problem identification, problem investigation and problem transformation. Each step of the TIPS approach is explained and illustrated by examples from the case study. Special emphasis is put on the integrated project architecture and on the linkage between problem investigation and problem transformation, these being the main challenges from a transdisciplinary point of view. The last section draws some conclusions on the applicability of the TIPS approach and presents recommendations for similar projects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook of Transdisciplinary Research
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)9781402066986
StatePublished - Dec 1 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Integrated project architecture
  • Methodology
  • Multi-criteria assessment
  • Mutual learning
  • System analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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