Between September 2005 and February 2006, we conducted 4,157 minutes of interviews and created 1,473 pages of transcript with a total of 65 interviewees in 18 local areas in all provinces of Austria with rural areas (that is, all but Vienna). As no full representation of local-area structures in Austria was intended, but an explanation of typical development trends, no randomly selected local areas were analysed, except those for which (1) in the period between the two job counts, 1991 and 2001, a signiﬁcant increase or decrease in jobs and other indicators was recorded and (2) a clearly discernible category was determined a priori that showed an inﬂuence on the (positive or negative) development of local areas. The following categories of characteristics were, for instance, considered: region for which a particular product is well known, social cohesion, drastic change in the economic structure or inter-communal business zone. For each of these categories, two local areas were identiﬁed, of which one developed well and the other less so in the period surveyed. In the NCCE, the survey took place a year later. The data were collected in
direct ﬁeld studies. The narrative interviews were conducted in the respective national languages. Altogether, in the NCCEs interviews with a total length of 3,812 minutes were conducted with 61 interviewees, which resulted in 1,142 pages of transcripts. The territorial distribution of the local areas surveyed was eﬀected
proportionally to the nation’s geographical area, with each country to be represented by at least two local areas. Hence, three Czech and three Hungarian, as well as two Slovak and two Slovene local areas were analysed. In order to record the inﬂuence of diﬀerent rules on the level of local administration, the speciﬁc selection of local areas made sure that the individual places selected were in diﬀerent areas regarding the categorization of the countries surveyed based on NUTS II. As Slovenia consists of only one region on this level, national administrative regions were used. Additionally,
the inﬂuence of the distance from the area surveyed to the Austrian border was to be made transparent. Therefore, the selection process ensured that in each country there was at least one area close to the Austrian border and one further away. Thus narrowed down, the speciﬁc local areas were selected for analysis
together with experts from the respective countries. In order to safeguard a broad scope of the assertions generated, the selected areas, particularly regarding their key demographic and economic data, were to be typical of the respective NUTS II region. Also concerning qualitative criteria such as historical development and social situation, the areas selected were to diﬀer as little as possible from other local areas in the region. Within the local areas, following a holistic view developed above, in dis-
cussing the research questions, the perspectives of various actors on diﬀerent levels of administration and from diﬀerent walks of life were recorded. By including points of view on and interpretations of what was going on in the municipalities surveyed that were as contrary to each other as possible, the meanings behind the statements made were to emerge. The minimum people interviewed were the mayor, a councillor from the biggest opposition party, an entrepreneur and a representative from the institution in charge of regional development on an inter-communal or regional level.