Current research projects

Urban future-making: Professional agency across time and scales
German Research Foundation | Research Training Group
Prof. Dr. Gernot Grabher, Dr. Joachim Thiel, Prof. Dr. Monika Grubbauer (speaker), Prof. Dr. Annette Bögle, Prof. Dr. Paolo Fusi, Prof. Dr. Gesa Kapteina, Prof. Katharina Manderscheid (University of Hamburg),  Jun. Prof. Franziska Müller (University of Hamburg), Prof. Dr. Karsten Gertz (Technical University Hamburg)

The Temporal Structuring of Creative Processes: Organizing Creativity through (Dis)Entrainment
German Research Foundation and Austrian Science Fund (FWF), 2021-2024
Prof. Dr. Gernot Grabher, Prof. Dr. Elke Schußler (Johannes-Kepler University Linz), Prof. Dr. Jorg Sydow (Free University Berlin)
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Completed research projects

Smart Cities: The Standardization of Cities? 
German Research Foundation, 2018-2021
Prof. Dr. Gernot Grabher, Dr. Joachim Thiel, Filipe Mello Rose
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Edge. Creation and Valuation of Novelty at the Margins
German Research Foundation, 2019
Prof. Dr. Gernot Grabher, Prof. Dr. Oliver Ibert (IRS Erkner)
Conference Website

Large-Scale Projects as Innovation Drivers in the Construction Industry
Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg, Landesforschungsförderung | Anschubförderung, 2017-2020Prof. Dr. Gernot Grabher (speaker), Dr. Joachim Thiel (coordinator), Prof. Dr. Monika Grubbauer, Prof. Dr. Annette Bögle (all HCU Hamburg), Prof. Dr. Cornelius Herstatt, Dr. Stephan Buse (TU Hamburg-Harburg)
Project Website

Organized Creativity - Practices for inducing and coping with uncertainty
German Research Foundation | Research Group, 2016-2022
Prof. Dr. Gernot Grabher, Prof. Dr. Jörg Sydow (Speaker, Free University of Berlin) and 10 Colleagues
Project Website

From Know-how to Know-who: Reflexive Management of Interpersonal Knowledge Networks on Social Network Sites
German Research Foundation, 2014-2016
Prof. Dr. Gernot Grabher, Dipl.-WiGeogr. Jonas König
More Information | Flyer

The Sharing Economy: Drivers and Constraints of New Practices of Collective Asset Utilization
HafenCity University - Anschubfinanzierung, 2014
Prof. Dr. Gernot Grabher (project leader), Prof. Dr. David Stark (Columbia University), Mark Lorenzen (Copenhagen Business School)

Learning through rare events: Learning from the past and anticipating the future. The case of the London Olympics 2012
German Research Foundation, 2012-2013
Prof. Dr. Gernot Grabher, Dr. Joachim Thiel
Final Report

Low-Budget Urbanity - Zur Transformation des Städtischen unter dem Primat des Sparens.
Wissenschaftsstiftung Hamburg, 2012-2013
Prof. Dr. Gernot Grabher; Prof. Dr. Alexa Färber (speaker, HCU Hamburg); Prof. Dr. Martina Heßler (Helmut-Schmitt-University Hamburg) Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Bernd Kniess (HCU Hamburg); Prof. Dr. Lisa Kosok (Museum für Hamburgische Geschichte); Dr. phil. Jörg Seifert (HCU Hamburg)

Port City Networks: Interdependencies of Global Shipping Networks and Urban Transformations of Port Cites
German Research Foundation, 2012-2013
Prof. Dr. Gernot Grabher, Prof. Dr. Carola Hein (Brywn Mawr College), Prof. Dr. Dirk Schubert (HCU Hamburg)

Globalization and Regional Innovation Systems
Canadian Social Science and Humanities Research Council, 2006-2010
Prof. Dr. Gernot Grabher, Prof. Dr. Meric Gertler (University of Toronto), Collegues of the University of British Columbia, University of Calgary, University of Ottawa, Université de Montréal, University of Toronto

Mobile Places, Virtual Networks: The Geographies of User-Induced Innovation Processes
German Research Foundation GR 1913-7, 2006-2009
Prof. Dr. Gernot Grabher, Dr. Oliver Ibert, Dipl.-Soz. Saskia Flohr
Final Report

Learning in Personal Networks: Collaborative Knowledge Production in Virtual Forums
Volkswagen Foundation, 2005-2008
Prof. Dr. Gernot Grabher, Julia Maintz, MA in co-operation with Prof. David Stark and John Kelly, MA (Columbia University, Center on Organizational Innovation)
Overview | Final Report

Learning from Rare Events: Repositories of Knowledge in Temporary Organizations
Prof. Dr. Gernot Grabher, A. Prencipe (University of Sussex), E. Ciacciatori (Università Commerciale L. Bocconi)

Knowledge, Governance, and Projects: Configurations and Dynamics of the Project-Based Economy
Fondo per gli Investimenti della Ricerca di Base (FIRB), 2005-2008
Prof. Dr. Gernot Grabher, Prof. Dr. Anna Grandori (Università Commerciale L. Bocconi), Prof. Dr. Peter Maskell (Copenhagen Business School), Prof. Dr. Patrick Kenis (Tilburg University), Prof. Dr. Patrick Cohendet (Université de Montréal)

Production in Projects: Advertising Industry in Hamburg and Software Production in Munich (Produktion in Projekten: Das Beispiel der Werbebranche in Hamburg und der Softwareindustrie in München)
German Research Foundation GR 1913-3, 2002-2004
Prof. Dr. Gernot Grabher and Dr. Oliver Ibert
Final Report

Current PhD projects - Primary supervision

Anke Hagemann, Berlin (contact)
From Flagship Store to Factory: Global networks and local spaces of clothing production

This research project explores urban places and built environments shaped by clothing industry and connected through transnational production networks. As a case study, it focusses on a specific production network which links production sites in Turkey and South Eastern Europe with Western European fashion companies and markets. Integrating the research approaches of Global Commodity Chains and Global Production Networks with urban research, the project explores the spatial effects of transnational production and trade on selected locations within this specific production chain: From the urban places of retail in Germany to the sites of wholesale and large-scale-production in the city of Istanbul and its periphery, and finally to the locations of sewing workshops and home-based work in Istanbul’s poor neighbourhoods, in south-eastern Anatolia or in neighbouring countries such as Bulgaria. The in-depth spatial analysis includes different scales: the geographical relations between the locations, their individual physical urban contexts and the particular architecture of the production facilities. It is based on spatial mapping as a central method, complemented by qualitative Interviews with experts and actors within clothing production and local urban development. The research project aims at understanding how the position of the selected places within the hierarchic value chain corresponds with its location and material presence in the city. Thus, it attempts to shed light on the overall spatial logic and the local physical manifestations of the transnational production system.

Filipe Mello Rose, Hamburg (contact)
The Contested Smart City: Discourses and Networked Practices in the Production of Smart Cities

My PhD-project investigates the interplay between a city’s dependency on technological tools created by tech-providers and the ways in which new tools are used as instruments of citizen empowerment. I aim to analyze how technological tools act as restrictions or enablers in establishing urban governance arrangements that connect citizens to governance networks. As smart cities have advanced urban infrastructures and changed the political, cultural and economic practices of citizens, my PhD thesis plugs into two debates on smart cities: First, it draws on the debate whether large tech-companies (e.g. IBM, Microsoft) that “make cities smart” work to position themselves as indispensable providers of know-how. Second, it addresses the debate on the relationship between strengthening local participatory policy-making and – in turn – increasingly relies on global communications technology.

To understand these developments, technology receives particular attention as it is not only object of governance but also its agent. For this, an Actor-Network-Theory-based tracing of technological tools through the types of use(r)s will provide new data on how the civil society appropriates itself of tools made by large tech-companies. Furthermore, social network analysis based on participant interviewing, a project-participant database and the use of ego-centered network maps allows understanding the impact of new cooperation links across organizational sectors (e.g. private, public) created by the production of a Smart City.These methods are applied to the critical cases Amsterdam and Barcelona as this allows grasping the conditions in which citizen collaboration have an impact on smart city strategies. Both case are similar in pursuing a collaborative smart city approach which includes citizen participation, yet Amsterdam focusses on a more sustainable energy consumption, while Barcelona prioritizes social cohesion and improving services, public participation and mobility. 

Dragana Kostica, Hamburg (contact)
Urban Transformations of Former Industrial Neighborhoods: Scrutinising urban networks – a comparison of Savamala (Belgrade) and NDSM Wharf (Amsterdam)

The research examines the transformations of former industrial neighborhoods located on the riverfronts of two European capital cities-Belgrade and Amsterdam. The research design is based on a site-specific comparative case study and aims at exploring the urban networks in Savamala (Belgrade) and NDSM wharf (Amsterdam). By employing the social network theory (including social network analysis, policy and governance networks) this research examines power geometry in the process of creativity-led urban regeneration in two different political and socio-economic environments. It explores the mechanisms of policy-making and decision-making process and explains the transformations (and dynamic) of networks of stakeholders (e.g. political, civil society, private) in neighborhoods in question. As well, it provides an explanation of individual and collective social actions, the social-structural, cultural, and social-psychological (Emirbayer and Goodwin, 1996) contexts in which actors act, and how those actions have led to the creation of contrasting outcomes of the regeneration process. Likewise, the research attempts to reach the selected aims such as: a) explain how particular urban policies form the governance networks that impact regeneration outcomes; b) explain power geometry in the policy and governance networks and what kind of consequences have been created; c) explain which particular actors are the most relevant players in the policy networks and why i.e. explain their positions inside the network and resources they poses and maneuver to reach their goals; and d) explain which governance modes can be observed, and how they change (or transform) over the years and how this impacts the neighborhoods in question. The research should contribute to the debate on creativity-led regeneration and transformations of urban neighborhoods situated on waterfronts.

Recently completed PhD projects

Sinaida Hackmack, Hertie School of Governance, Berlin
How complex urban governance processes unfold:the case of cycling policies in London and Berlin

With a growing variety of stakeholders involved and different interests that need to be reconciled, policy making in the city can sometimes be slow or even run into deadlock. This PhD project investigates this complexity of urban governance with a process view. It strives to investigate how complex urban governance processes unfold and what might enable or impede joint action throughout.

For that, it looks at the field of urban transport, which is a prime example of the struggle of cities to move complex policies forward. This becomes particularly apparent in the re-design of urban streets, which requires careful retrofitting of existing infrastructures and an alignment of previous plans with new political priorities. This struggle has recently been re-ignited by the renaissance of the bicycle in cities and the related roll-out of new cycling infrastructure. The promotion of cycling has moved up the urban political agenda almost universally and become a cross-sectoral priority of transport, public health, and environmental policies. Yet, the creation of space for the safety of cyclists, for instance in the form of separate cycle lanes, has initiated fierce debates with strong supporters and opponents in nearly all major cities. This dissertation explores how, in spite of this controversy, urban stakeholders move ambitious cycling programs forward based on the comparative analysis of cycling policies in London (2012 – 2016) and Berlin (2016 – 2020). With a methodological and theoretical approach rooted in network research, this dissertation explores both the actor-networks and the policy debate of these case studies over time.

Alice Melchior, Berlin/Hamburg (contact)
Form an idea to a creative product - Practices of valuation in the pharmaceutical field

In the past, novel ideas and innovations were reliable driving forces behind pharmaceutical advances and thus integral factors in the pharmaceutical field. However, the increasing development time and costs together with a declining success rate are challenging the industry. To handle these difficulties, big pharmaceutical companies are changing their strategies to a more open process of knowledge creation.The number of innovative partnerships and joint research, and development projects increase as a result of this strategic shift, whereby the number of potential ideas rise. The assessment of opportunities and identification of the most profitable ideas pose essential challenges for big companies. On the other hand, the idea owner needs to reinforce his idea to distinguish themselves and gain visibility in the field. I propose to investigate the key challenges connected to the assessment of innovations and guide my research by the following question: Which norms and practices are developed by the actors to organize the process of valuation in the pharmaceutical field? This main issue will be approached by answering three sub questions: a) Which norms are consulted to determine the value? b) Which practices of organizing value are used by the actors? c) Which structures and forums are created and used by actors in the negotiation of value? The ongoing dissertation seeks to cut across the assumption that value is predictable. Furthermore, the main issue is to understand value assessment as a process of interactions, in which actors use different norms, practices, and structures to organize and negotiate the value of ideas.

Between 2003 and 2011, the SECONS (Socio-Economics of Space) Discussion Forum published theoretically-informed and original interventions on currently debated issues. In addition to papers from established areas such as social and economic geography, regional economics, economic and urban sociology, the SECONS Discussion Forum was particularly interested in crossdisciplinary contributions to reflect the diversity of the research field.