Außenansicht des D2 Gebäudes

Presentation of research project on ‘Services of General Interest between Sustainability and Digitalization’


Stephan Leixnering, Tobias Polzer and Selin Öner-Kula were awarded a grant from the ‘Jubilee Fund of the City of Vienna for WU Vienna’ for a research project on ‘Services of General Interest between Sustainability and Digital Transformation’ in 2022. This project was now presented at a meeting facilitating the networking among interested officials from the City of Vienna other practitioners and WU researchers.

Services of general interest encompass the provision of public services at the municipal level and represent a central feature of cities. Currently, the global discourses on digitalization and (social and ecological) sustainability are creating substantial pressure on city administrations. From the side of the European Union, these two transformation drivers are referred to as the ‘twin transition’. This already indicates that these two drivers of change are interdependent. One implication is that addressing one driver has implications for the other. Surprisingly, however, little is known about how cities deal with interdependencies. Today’s cities, which are home to more than half of the world’s population, are complex organizational systems with very different actors. This means that dealing with the ‘twins’ requires collective action by actors who are also interdependent.

The buzzword ‘digital services of general interest’ originates from the practitioner-driven debate in Germany (‘Digitale Daseinsvorsorge’). As an umbrella term, this debate equally describes the challenges that arise for cities from simultaneously coping with the demands of digitalization and sustainability. However, scientific research on this topic is only just beginning. The project therefore aims primarily at taking stock of the debate, linking it back to existing literature and identifying empirical research needs.

Further information about the project (in German) can be found here, as well as in this video.

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