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Prof. Dr. Sabine Kuhlmann

Funded by: Robert-Bosch-Foundation

Granted project volume: 75.600,00 €

Run-time: 29.10.2019 - 27.10.2024


The inter- and transdisciplinary research training group "Mittelstadt als Mitmachstadt" aims to investigate future issues and transformation concerns in selected medium-sized cities in order to bring about change through new forms of city-making and participation. With the support of the Robert Bosch Stiftung, PhD students from the University of Potsdam, RWTH Aachen University and the University of Stuttgart are working on these questions about the future, with a network of medium-sized cities offering them the opportunity to carry out projects and research in different cities. At the same time, the municipalities benefit from new, innovative impulses. The Research Training Group has a duration of 3.5 years.

Within the Research Training Group, one doctoral student and one professor belong to the University of Potsdam. This team researches transformation processes with a focus on administrative science. Specifically, the doctoral project conducted at the University of Potsdam is about the digital transformation of administrations in small medium-sized cities.

Main research question:

R1: What are the characteristics of the governance of digitalisation policies of small medium-sized cities?

R2: Which institutional, actor-centred and external factors influence the governance of digitalization policy?

R3: What impact does the governance of digitalization policy have on the output of digitalization policy?

The main research question investigates:

The study is a sequential exploratory mixed-methods design. The first research question aims to establish a typology of forms of digitalization governance in medium-sized cities. The second question focuses on the factors leading to the adoption of different forms of digitalization governance from a historical-neoinstitutionalist perspective. These two questions are addressed through a series of case studies based on process tracing of digitalization pioneer municipalities of this size.

The third question focuses on the throughput-output relationship: do different governance configurations have an impact on the adopted digitalization measures? And how? This third question is addressed by web-scraping all German medium-sized municipalities to create a digitalization index and analyzing the dataset through inferential statistics.

Research objective:

The project aims to 1) create a typology of governance forms for digitalization in medium-sized municipalities, 2) understand which factors lead to different governance arrangements, 3) understand the variation in the degree of digitalization between medium-sized municipalities 4) understand how the variation in digitalization (point 3) is related to the typology of governance forms (point 1).