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- Hypotheses and questions -

The basic hypothesis of our research is the presumption already mentioned in the Introduction, namely that territorial capital as a reserve of economic, social, cultural, intellectual and relational capital, the specific interactions between these elements and a unique constellation of material assets is a relevant concept in the case of cities; and the processes which shaped or continue to shape its components can be detected along the processes of urban development or the eventual transformation of functions. The examination of the validity of the hypothesis, beyond the absorption and evaluation of the interpretative frameworks of territorial capital, extends to the review of applied and potentially applicable empirical analytical methods and includes the development of new methods as well. The amelioration and upgrading of our research methods facilitated by the data-based, quantitative analysis of territorial capital and its components includes the elaboration of research procedures mapping the process of the evolution of this capital stock in urban areas. These, on the basis of our current hypotheses and preliminary research, are historical, descriptive methods relying on the long-term evaluation (20th century) of factors influencing the development of cities and they detect those segments (e.g. economic stakeholders and/or sectors, institutions, territorial linkages, geographical position, individuals, etc.), which are the principal agents of renewal in the cities and exert a decisive influence on the evolution of the innovative milieu which is temporarily or permanently present in them. Our in-depth analysis of three Hungarian regional centers (Debrecen, Győr, Pécs) carried out basically with qualitative methods, exploring and interpreting processes and interactions in the specific innovative milieus cannot be apprehended by quantifiable indicators, serves this latter goal.
According to our next research hypothesis, the content, nature, quality and forms of manifestation of the innovative milieu - which is a product of the temporal evolution of territorial capital - are also subject to change. Our objective is to provide a description and evaluation of the innovative milieu and its evolution in the respective cities. We presume that cities dispose of diverse components of territorial capital and the resulting innovative milieu, its condition, structure and forms of manifestation may vary.
The research seeks to detect the development paths of cities determined by the various capital types and the innovative milieu constructed on their basis, and to identify the groups of Central and Eastern European regional centers characterized by identical development patterns. It is important to note that we should not treat cities as isolated entities, organic interactions with their catchment area constituting functional urban regions cannot be neglected. The functional division of labour between regional centers and their agglomerations is not the primary path of our analysis, but we don’t set aside its effects on forming the structure of territorial capital. Our third hypothesis also based on the inclusion of Central Eastern European regional centers into our analysis. We assume that examination of the structure and dynamics of change of territorial capital serves as an appropriate tool for the comparison of these cities thus we can identify their identical and heterogeneous development specifics. It also helps in positioning the Hungarian regional centers in a macro-regional space. Analysis of development paths of the last two decades will be carried out on cities above population of 100 000 in eight countries (Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia), involving around eighty cities. An analysis with such approach can be suitable for exploring the weight and role of factors shaping characteristics of configuration of urban network beyond endogenous forces (’national effects’, different priorities of development policies).
Macro-regional analysis fosters the identification of novel contents of capital – sectors of the new economy, knowledge industry, accessibility, involvement in global processes – and determine their influence on the stratification and development paths of macro-regional centers. According to our fourth hypothesis, significant presence of organic interactions between the intangible elements of territorial capital and the economic resources exerting a definite positive influence on the innovative milieu and competitiveness cannot be regarded as a general phenomenon either in Hungarian or in Central Eastern European cities; only isolated and unique examples can be detected. Our research places special emphasis on exploring the relationship between the two groups of factors in order to detect the synergies between them.


Research questions

1. How can territorial capital be interpreted within urban systems? Which forms of capital are dominant and what characterizes their evolution in the European system of cities and the Hungarian urban network from the dawn of the 20th century until our present era? Which sectors and branches are associated with the evolution of territorial capital in the Central Eastern European urban system? Are special, unique innovative milieu produced by these factors fostering or hindering further development discernible? Can the temporal evolution of the innovative milieu be detected in the Hungarian cities involved in in-depth analysis, is the innovative chalice representing durable innovations present at all?

2. What characterizes the situation and position of Hungarian cities in the Central Eastern European region and its evolving urban network? What sectoral and functional specifics characterize Hungarian cities and to what extent these specificities show differences or similarities with Central Eastern European regional centers? Can a significant shift in the position of Hungarian cities be observed in this network during the period between the beginning of the 1990s and the 2010s? If so, which factors explain this phenomenon?

3. To what extent are the specifics of territorial capital components and the innovative milieu generated by them represented in the development strategies of cities (2014-2020)? Are these development strategies able to generate innovations, or do they only serve the conservation of the status quo? To what extent these aspects and needs appear among priorities of development on the national level? What restrictive factors do cities encounter during the development of their territorial capital and consequently, the renewal of their innovative milieux?

4. How can we describe and evaluate the activity of local social and economic actors in cities towards shaping innovative milieu? Are there any demonstrable positive effects of intensive interactions between these actors on local development? How can local social activity be operationalized and measured in order to represent it among the components of territorial capital?

5. How can we describe the system of relations between hard and soft factors constituting the background of development paths? What indicators can be used to measure the impact of social capital on the development of cities? What means of communications transmit the impacts of nonmaterial capital on the operation of the economy? What effects are agglomerations have on the structure of territorial capital of the cities?

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