Profile of Mr Ders Csaba University of Pecs

Ders Csaba

A trans-professional, who has been continuously developing his originally architectural knowledge in different institutions to keep up with the multiple challenges of the Cultural Capital of Europe 2010 development, in which he was actively involved in different capacities.
Again, a trans-professional, who is continuously reconsidering the boundaries of his profession and his professional attitude while trying to reposition himself in the constantly changing context of Central Eastern Europe.
On his journey to urban development planning - as a practitioner, teaching assistant, organizer of workshops and author of articles - he has also acquired knowledge and experience in urban design.

General research interests

Joining the European Union on 1 May 2004 speeded up the socio-political and economic transition that started after the political changes in 1989 in Central Eastern Europe. This multidimensional transition process transforms in multiple ways the existing governance and planning culture creating a confusing and often conflicting landscape of governance and planning practices. To be able to steer and sustain this transition process we have to be able to monitor the events/precedents of transformation and understand the motives that drive it.
Equipped by a post-modernist “cultural like” analytical toolkit I aspire to get closer to this dilemma.

PhD/Postdoctoral Research Title

“From government to governance, from rational comprehensive to strategic planning: the changing landscapes of urban governance and development planning in Pécs, Hungary”

PhD Abstract

“From government to governance, from rational comprehensive to strategic planning: the changing landscapes of urban governance and development planning in Pécs, Hungary”

Key words: master plan, transitional planning culture, institutionalization, Central Eastern Europe, Hungary, Pécs

By joining the European Union on 1 May 2004, the eight post-socialist countries have chosen a new community with a particular political and socio-economic history and cultural complexity. This step was an explicit commitment for a much more intensive cultural interaction in its broadest sense, to harmonize the differently evolved socio-cultural realities of this redefined community. Urban development is one focal point of this extensive cultural transition that emerges from the interference of these flowing socio-cultural landscapes creating different patterns of planning culture in the time-space of Central Eastern Europe.

In Hungary, the policy framework of the ‘New Hungary Development Plan’ and in particular its new urban development planning toolkit - the ‘Integrated Development Strategy’ (IDS) - was the first institutional milestone representing this ‘interference’. This policy complemented and to some extent pushed, the existing master plan based urban development system towards a strategic planning paradigm, depending on the receptiveness of places, resulting in a wide variety of practices . Understanding the roots of this diversity, finding out the motives that define the susceptibility of a given loci, are essential to sustain and drive the initiated institutional transformation.

This paper is looking at the peculiar case of Pécs (Hungary), which will be one of the three Cultural Capitals of Europe (CCE) in 2010. It aims to find out to what extent the IDS has created the conditions for the governance and strategic development planning paradigm. The study is especially interested in the limitations of institutional change and the real structurational properties that drive socio-cultural transformation in this locus.

Assuming the converging socio-political and economic development, the analysis uses two “reference systems” to define the present practice of urban governance and development planning in Pécs:
- The initial government and its associated rational comprehensive planning (RCP) paradigm with the master-plan as the main planning tool
- and the governance and its associated strategic planning (SP) paradigm with the framework of Collective Strategic Action as a reference planning tool.
Building on the Giddensian conception of social change the study uses the “Web of Institutionalization” to analyse and represent the transforming institutional landscape of governance and urban development planning in Pécs. The research is based partly on secondary research but also on personal interviews with key stakeholders.

The results of the research show that the new IDS could provoke institutional and organizational changes only to the extent that it could respond to local structurational conditions and tendencies, part of which are fostering but some of them are hindering the strategic turn.

It suggests that although a new conception of the master plan is essential, it does not provide the sufficient conditions to achieve cultural change in governance and development planning but the coexistence of a critical mass of structurational properties has to reinforce each other to achieve a paradigm shift. It suggests also, that the framework of a new master plan can only be general to the extent that it be adopted to the conditions of different localities.