SECP Discussion Papers

Research papers of the ZNWU Fellows are usually first published as ZNWU Discussion Paper. The Discussion Papers thus contribute to a broad dissemination of our sustainability research. The aim is to receive feedback from the research community that is as diverse as possible and to bring our research to publication maturity.

Stress and psychological strain are dominant phenomena in modern Western societies and play an ever-increasing role among students. In the business environment there are already various concepts that serve to reduce stress and build up resilience and usually there is also a high level of attention from management and executives. On the other hand relevant activities at universities are rather rare and above all little systematically developed. Against this background, Prof. Dr. Werner Stork and Prof. Dr. med. Silke Heimes together with the lecturer and mindfulness trainer Helmut Aatz and five student employees (Sarah Allagha, Jens Boll, Stella Brug, Paul Hoffmann and Maximilian Rasch) carried out a project to develop suitable concepts as well as to research the potential effects on the perception of stress and the resilience of students. The results of the RODS II study confirm that mindfulness practice in students is suitable for reducing stress and promoting resilience. From the study, the recommendation can be derived that mindfulness courses at colleges, universities and training centers be systematically and firmly anchored in the teaching activities for all students.

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The article explores regional policy issues at the nexus of economic geography and the recent academic literature on the political economy of digitalization. The objective is to blend these two areas of research to derive a first set of preliminary policy implications for so called “Smart Region” strategies. First, we document and analyze the finding that digitalization and, more generally, technological progress based on information and communication technologies represents a risk rather than an opportunity for many regions. Against the backdrop of the role of human capital accumulation in this process, "Smart Region" strategies should re-focus their attention on the settlement and development of "digitally competent" human capital. Second, we summarize key findings from studies that deal with the capitalist accumulation regime emerging in the course of digital change. This regime, often referred to as "platform capitalism" or "surveillance capitalism", appears to be antagonistic what is considered an integral and functional regional economy. Against this background, regions should meet calls for a rapid integration into this regime with a good deal of skepticism. Similarly, they should be careful not to embrace “smart” initiatives overhasty. Instead, they should develop their own definition of digital literacy and consciously incorporate alternatives to platform capitalism in their digital strategies. Attracting digitally competent human capital can support such an approach, especially if the respective initiatives are directed towards the public, educational and non-profit sectors.

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Stress and psychological stress are dominant phenomena in modern Western societies. Recent studies by health insurance companies show that very high stress levels also occur during studies. This can lead to serious illnesses and reduces performance. The analyses show that the stress levels in students are higher than in the “normal population” and that these developments at the Universities of Applied Sciences (UAS) are particularly alarming. Against this background, the Department of Economics at Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences has carried out a pilot project with measures to improve stress management and promote resilience. The measures were scientifically accompanied by quantitative and qualitative methods. The positive effects on the health and performance of the students could be convincingly proven. Since the 2019 summer semester, the new teaching and training elements for resilience have therefore been firmly anchored in the curriculum of the Business Administration B.Sc. program at Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences.

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In 1974, a series of banking crises unsettled many of the world’s largest economies. The most prominent of them, the Herstatt crisis in Germany, sent major shock waves through the nascent global financial system. In retrospective, the crisis marks the beginning of a long trend of discontinuously rising financial instability that culminated in the crisis of 2007/08. In retrospect, the crisis appears to be a prelude or preface, if not the first chapter of a looming era of financialization and banking turbulence. As such, it could have shaped the response of those analyzing and responding to financial fragility. But how did contemporary observers in fact interpret and contextualize the episode? What mark did it leave on professional views and policies on the financial sector? With a focus on Germany, we review an extensive set of contemporary documents to analyze the impact of the 1974 crisis on experts’ expectations towards banks and finance.

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