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PhD Projects in Urban and Regional Economics

Current Projects

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.

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. 

Jonas König, Hamburg (contact)
Reflexive Socialising in Online Networks

Lukas Kubina, München (contact)
The transformational Power of Technology and Rare Events

previous projects

Niloufar Vadiati, Hamburg (contact)
Post-impacts of mega events on community mobilization: assessing the legacy building of the London Olympic Games 2012, connected to social inclusion of the Muslim community in East London

Hugues Jeannerat, Neuchâtel (contact)
Production and consumption in territorial innovations models: entering through market construction

Bettina Lelong, Aachen (contact)
Shifting Urban Development Paradigms: Network Analysis of Rotterdam and Hamburg

Melanie Fasche, Berlin (contact)
Making Value: Contemporary Art, Careers and Place