We are interested to understand how and why people, firms and industries cluster in particular locations; how and why regional economies, industries and societies evolve and change; and how new drivers of development such as life sciences or environmental technologies emerge selectively in some places but not in others. In this context we investigate patterns and processes of socio-economic development from local and regional to international and global levels. This includes location problems and the spatial organization of firms and public infrastructure, the emergence, growth and decline of industries and firms, problems of uneven regional development, as well as policies to address these issues from a multi-level governance perspective. Also the role of Cohesion Policy and of Structural Funds at a European level is part of this agenda.
As has become apparent in the recent economic crisis, regional economies may be affected by shocks quite differently. The crisis pushed certain areas into a deep recession and after years of convergence, the disparities between the regions of Europe increased strongly in recent years. Globalization and the rapid development of transportation and communication technologies made regions more interdependent, but did not eliminate geographical space and regional differences, as some academics have hypothesized. Regions and specific regional circumstances have become more rather than less important for economic development. This phenomenon is reflected in the growing interest in regions in Economics and Business as shown by work of Krugman, Porter, Kotler, etc. Regions typically refer to subnational units but may also cover cross- and transnational spaces.
Our Specific research themes address
the role of agglomeration and clustering for economic development,
patterns, processes and socioeconomic problems of urban growth and change,
location and sustainable real estate,
the role of knowledge networks and innovation systems for regional development.
Recent international research projects include “Constructing regional advantage” a European project that investigated how companies in different types of regions engage in multi-scalar knowledge networks in order to enhance their innovation and economic performance. The European project “Cluster life cycles – the role of actors, networks and institutions in emerging, growing, declining and renewing clusters” analyzed for a number of regions in Europe the emergence and transformation of clusters from an evolutionary perspective.