This is the online first version published on 2021-06-30. Read the most recent version.

How do we meet the Matthew-effect in real- world laboratories? Selectivity in participatory processes


  • Laura Gebhardt
  • Alexandra König



mobility, selectivity, representativity, co-creation, living-labs, participation


The complexity and dynamics of real-world problems in transdisciplinary projects require the participation of all directly and indirectly affected population groups in the participation process. All too often, participants come from socioeconomically similar milieus (middle-class, male, local) and persons with a migratory background, young people, and members of lower income groups are represented rather weakly or not at all. This phenomenon of social selectivity is called the Matthew-effect ("whoever has, will be given"). It describes the effect that socio-economically strong persons are particularly committed to their interests, while interests of those in a (resource-wise) less well-off situation are under-represented. The article addresses three questions: 1) How can it be ensured, that all population groups are reached during the participation process? 2) How can their concerns be heard and involved in it? 3) How can civil society be empowered as co-creators in participation processes? These questions will be reflected upon on the basis of empirical experience gained in the real-world lab projects Reallabor Schorndorf and Reallabor Altmarkkreis. On the basis of these reflections, recommendations for action for researchers and practitioners are developed and open research questions are derived.


Download data is not yet available.






Research Article

How to Cite

Gebhardt L, König A. How do we meet the Matthew-effect in real- world laboratories? Selectivity in participatory processes. RuR [Internet]. 2021 Jun. 30 [cited 2024 Jul. 18];79(4). Available from: