In Memoriam: the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) griefs for Jörg Meyer-Stamer

On the eve of 1 May 2009 Jörg Meyer-Stamer, having reached the age of only 50, unexpectedly died of a grave illness. Jörg Meyer-Stamer worked at the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) from 1988 to 1998.

The institute’s staff members mourn the passing of a colleague whose creativity and productivity played a crucial role in shaping the DIE’s profile during the time he spent with us. Even after he had left the institute, Jörg Meyer-Stamer remained attached to the DIE and its network in many and various ways.

Together with Klaus Esser, Wolfgang Hillebrand, and Dirk Messner, Jörg Meyer-Stamer developed, in the early 1990s, the concept of “systemic competitiveness,” which was to have a key impact on the discussion, both German and international, on strategies suited to integrating developing countries into the world economy. Jörg Meyer-Stamer was one of Germany’s most creative and productive development researchers. He led the discussions on innovation systems in developing countries and emerging economies, on cluster formation as a key prerequisite for social and economic learning processes, and on drivers of local development under the conditions of globalisation. Many of his publications are regarded as milestones, not least because, instead of stopping at theoretical reflections, Jörg-Meyer Stamer always went on to formulate, based on his enormous world knowledge and his astonishing ability to gauge social dynamics, practicable proposals for development policy. He was bored by rigid theoretical constructs cut off from practical reality. What interested him was research with the potential to inspire, and set in motion, processes of social change.

After he left the DIE, Jörg Meyer-Stamer moved on to the Institute for Development and Peace (INEF) at the University of Duisburg, where, from 1998 to 1999, he led a German-Korean-Chilean research team assembled to investigate the process of structural industrial change in Germany’s Ruhr region and to derive conclusions bearing on development strategies for developing and industrialised countries faced with the pressure of globalisation. For him, development policy as a one-way street, in the form of North-South transfers, was a road leading nowhere. Jörg Meyer-Stamer advocated, and worked hard to realise, the international learning and knowledge networks he saw as a key condition for dynamic development.

It was therefore only logical that Jörg Meyer-Stamer, together with a few colleagues, would ultimately leave the University of Duisburg to found a consulting firm of his own. Mesopartner has translated into successful practice, throughout the world, what Jörg Meyer-Stamer developed in his knowledge-and practice-oriented networks. At times a restless soul, Jörg Meyer-Stamer, from then on a successful and sought-after consultant, worked for national and international development agencies and local and national governments throughout the world. He continued at the same time to publish articles and books in which he combined the experience he had gathered in the course of his worldwide consulting work with his diverse and abundant theoretical knowledge, developing new perspectives that have proven stimulating for research and practice alike. He was a pioneer in this regard.

Jörg Meyer-Stamer was overwhelmingly productive. Those who worked together with him will not fail to recall intensive discussions and stimulating intellectual exercises, his constant revising of figures and diagrams, the concentrated and precise way he had of working his way through mountains of data material. His highly developed sense of curiosity, the speed with which he thought and wrote, the persistent, indeed often provocative way he had of posing questions, and the enormous skill he showed when it came to structuring complex processes and depicting them in comprehensible terms often disconcerted, sometimes even bewildered, his colleagues. Jörg Meyer-Stamer will be sorely missed by all those who knew and worked with him. His untimely death is a painful and irreplaceable loss for German development research and practice. For his friends he will remain unforgettable.

Colleagues and friends are invited to share their thoughts and memories of Jörg in an Online Book of Condolences.

Dirk Messner
Director, German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE).

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