Sustainability, Governance, and Methods

Innovation and sustainable development are both highly visible target areas on the political agenda, and demand the appropriate governance structures for their promotion. The central challenge of governance is developing the institutional capacity to design, promote, gain agreement for, implement, and monitor effective strategies.

In the globalized, knowledge-based economy of the 21st century, organizations that produce and disseminate knowledge have a critical role to play in assisting cities, regions, and nations reach and sustain economic competitiveness. How do higher education institutions respond to this recognition, by expanding their activities beyond teaching and basic research to include economic, business, and technology development?

How democratic development can be fostered in different conditions and societal contexts, and how social and economic development alters the perception of democracy form a core research focus.

In the last few decades there has been a paradigm shift in how we view the relationships among tourism, development, and sustainability. Indeed there is a fragile interdependence between tourism, environmental quality, and regional economic well-being. How can tourism and regional development strategies be coordinated to achieve sustainable development?

The expansion and deepening of new forms of governance, particularly for economic development and environmental sustainability, comes with increased demands for accountability for the use of public resources. How effective are public and public-private initiatives in achieving their intended outcomes? What types of organizational structures are most suitable under contingent conditions? How effective is the implementation process and how responsive are organizations to diverse needs?

Well-being does not only depend on so-called objective conditions, but on subjective ones as well. Therefore, subjective indicators are involved in official statistics in the meantime (subjective well-being, life satisfaction), e.g. in the Eurobarometer where a quite simple question has to be responded to. Current knowledge states that the reliability/validity of those indicators is sufficient to apply those indicators, but still full of problems. The research activities planned shall improve the quality of satisfaction or well-being-indicators and help to establish them in societal monitoring.

In multivariate analysis, more flexible analytical tools for hypotheses testing would be desirable. Non-parametric procedures such as permutation tests could combine features of explorative approaches (data mining) with rigorous hypotheses testing. The limitations of the current inventory have become evident to us when trying to analyze the effects of shares of subpopulations on PISA performance. Another focus lies on forecasting methodology, especially regarding forecasts in tourism, and in the application of meta-analytic techniques in the context of the effects of environmental conditions.

The complex methodology of international comparison studies of students' achievements give reason to analyzing the fundamental properties of the measurement instruments, especially regarding issues such as the dimensionality of the item pools administered. Another area of interest are birthday effects which have been found in the context of the level of education in official statistics' population data.