Institute of Economic and Cultural Geography Research Research projects
Sharing KnowlEdge Assets: InteRregionally Cohesive NeigHborhoods (SEARCH)

Sharing KnowlEdge Assets: InteRregionally Cohesive NeigHborhoods (SEARCH)

Led by:  Prof. Dr. Javier Revilla Diez, Dr. Daniel Schiller and 13 partners at other European universities together with one partner at the university in Morocco and Israel and one partner in Turkey
Team:  Prof. Dr. Javier Revilla Diez, Dr. Daniel Schiller, Daria Zvirgzde
Year:  2014
Funding:  European Union (EU) within the 7th research framework programme
Duration:  2011 - 2014
Is Finished:  yes

Please also refer to the project homepage for further information.

Project Background
Sharing KnowlEdge Assets: InteRregionally Cohesive NeigHborhoods (SEARCH)  is a project financed by the European Union under the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development in the 'Socio-economic sciences and the humanities' area (FP7-SSH-2010-2. 266834).

The SEARCH consortium consists of 17 partners from different European and Middle East countries with the aim of studying the impact of the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) on strengthening the integration process between the EU and the neighboring countries (NCs). The work carried out by the Partners adhering to the SEARCH Project will be organized in 8 different work-packages with the aim of providing empirical and theoretical analysis as well as useful policy implications to academia, policy makers and general audience.

The objective of the SEARCH Project is to strengthen the integration process between the EU and the NCs by focusing on the European Research Neighborhood (ERN), thereby improving fundamentally the understanding of institutional framework conditions of the ENP countries, their economic interactions with the EU in terms of people, capital, trade, knowledge, and innovation, in order to improve future definition and implementation of the European Neighboring Policies taking into account that "one size fits all" policy recommendations will not be appropriate due to the bilateral nature of the EU-ENP countries agreements.


Specific objectives:

  • To provide a framework for the theoretical and empirical point of view about the relationships among the EU and the NCs.
  • To study, theoretically and empirically, the patterns of economic interaction between the EU and its NCs and to estimate the subnational (ie regional) effects of these interactions.
  • To analyse the role of labour migration and its economic and social consequences (costs and benefits) both for destination (EU regions) and origin regions (neighboring ones).
  • To investigate the extent to which the innovative performance of regions (EU27 and NCs16) depends on endogenous ability in knowledge creation or on the capacity to absorb, adopt and imitate other regions’ innovations.
  • To identify the impact of changes in the institutional structure in the ENP countries and regions on (a) the prospects for improved economic development and social cohesion, and (b) for their stronger integration with the EU and, in particular, with the New Member States (NMS).
  • To extract country specific Policy Guidelines for policymakers in the EU and NCs to support the development of higher levels of economic integration for the growth, competitiveness and cohesion prospects of the two areas.
  • To disseminate the research findings to both policymakers and academic researchers, at European, national and regional level, in order to improve both future neighborhood policy making and future academic research in the area.

The EU has experienced successive enlargements in recent years with the incorporation of new countries. These have changed the EU map, broadening frontiers and thus appearing new neighboring countries. The integration of them offers new opportunities, but it also implies some risks. Even though the ENP has demonstrated to be an integration tool, which has provided an effective framework to establish cooperation links within neighboring countries, some are important areas with considerable potential for further progress. SEARCH will focus attention on some areas which so far have been neglected in the analysis of the impact of the ENP, but which are of central interest the economic literature on cohesion.

The project has started in August 2011 and will last for 36 months. It is organized into eight work-packages. The Hannover team participates in WP 2 and WP 5.

WP 2. Trade flows and localization choices

The general objective of this work-package is to study, both theoretically and empirically, the patterns of the economic interaction between the EU and its neighboring countries, to project future trends and identify the effects of higher levels of economic integration to the growth, competitiveness and cohesion prospects of the two areas.
The Hannover team will carry out a specific survey in Ukraine and Morocco (possibly also in Israel). The methodology that will be followed in the survey will select about 300 firms per country, however the survey will not be carried out in the country as a whole, but in two regions per country with different characteristics. After having selected the countries and regions within the country, the survey will be carried out in two or three sectors which are relevant in all countries and regions. The survey will cover domestic and foreign firms from EU countries to cover differences and linkages among the two groups. We will also be involved in the selection of four firm-level case studies selected from the top European investors (2 from the EU15 and 2 from the New Member States) operating in the NCs in order to gain some qualitative insights into the determinants of their location decisions in the area with special reference to the role of intangible assets. Our team will participate in the development of the policy agenda of the EU towards the NCs, as well as the domestic policy agenda of the NCs.

WP 5. Social, cultural and institutional environment

The main objective of this work-package is to investigate the current status of the social, cultural and institutional environment in the ENP countries and regions, and to identify the impact of current changes and transformations on the prospects for improved economic development, social cohesion, and stronger integration with the EU area and, in particular, with the neighbor members among the NMS. In order to achieve cohesion among cores and peripheries, institutional arrangements are required that ensure an efficient long-term upgrading of capabilities, functions, and networks at various levels.

The Hannover team will analyse the similarities and differences of the institutional change found between regions in ENP countries and other catch-up countries, e.g. Asia. We will also explore how firms assess the quality of institutions deplored by governments in ENP countries and in what way formal institutions are co-evolving with the local business culture in ENP countries and their closer integration with the EU. Our team will be involved in identification and classification of the existing twinning projects between local authorities in the EU and the NCs and NRs. These bilateral linkages will be identified with the collaboration of associations of local authorities in the EU countries. We  will participate in  identification of  the impact of the institutional structure of the educational systems in the NCs and NRs on skill levels of the workforce, especially with regard to vocational education.  Our team will also elaborate the policy implications extracted from the research carried out in the work-package.

The remaining work-packages are:
WP 1. Background ENP. Past, Present and Future
WP 3. People Mobility and Human Capital
WP 4. Technological activities and innovation diffusion in the EU and interactions with the neighboring regions
WP 6. Policy Issues and Research Implications: Towards Integrated ERN Policies
WP 7. Dissemination
WP 8. Project management

Presentations to Scientific Audiences:

  • Revilla Diez, J.; Schiller, D.; Zvirgse, D.: Location Choices of Multinational Companies in Ukraine. XIV April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development, Moscow, April 2nd-5th, 2013.
  • Schiller, D.: Topics and methods of the SEARCH empirical survey in Ukraine and Morocco. First Progress Meeting of the SEARCH Project. 05.-06. März 2012. Wien.