Third-party funded project

Coping With Crises in a Resilient Manner: The Role of Expert Advice in the Creation and Use of ‘Opportunities’ in Crisis Situations (RESKIU)

Research Department: Dynamics of Economic Spaces

IRS Research Topic: Conceptual Approaches to Crisis and Resilience New Vulnerabilities and Resilience Strategies Crisis and Resilience in Multi-level Governance

Project Leader within IRS: Prof. Dr. Oliver Ibert

Project Team: Tjorven Harmsen Jeannette Higiro Dr. Verena Brinks

Duration: 10/2017 - 09/2021


The research project “Coping With Crises in a Resilient Manner” (RESKIU) deals with the potential for crises to provide solutions, and seeks to explore what can be done by the involved actors not only to mitigate the symptoms of crises, but also to create and use “opportunities” for structural change. The project has a duration of three years and will bring together basic and applied research on crises.

Crises are understood as exceptional circumstances requiring swift, non-routine action and the making of decisions under conditions of high uncertainty and complexity. As a turning point for better or worse, crises have an ambivalent character. On the one hand, they are perceived as existentially threatening by the actors involved, on the other they also offer the chance of using the situation to achieve fundamental change. If the chosen action succeeds not only in alleviating the symptoms of the crisis, but also tackles its causes, then we can speak of a coping with crises in a resilient manner. The guiding question of this project is: What can be done by the involved actors to achieve such resilient crisis management?

Two aspects of this question are thus of special interest: Firstly, the project aims to identify structures of opportunity typical of crisis processes, to closely analyse the spatio-temporal distribution of these opportunities, and to understand the resultant possibilities for intervention by actors that result from such opportunities. Secondly, a particular focus will be placed on experienced advisors, whose consultation is sought either as a result of their expertise of systems that have fallen into crisis (“experts in a crisis”), or because of their generic knowledge of crisis dynamics, communication, and management (“crisis experts”). Owing to their (often academic) education and extensive practical experience, experts have knowledge relevant to crises that can assist (politically) responsible decision-makers to make better-informed decisions before, during, and after a crisis. Through an analysis of the spatio-temporality of crises, as well as of underlying structural and normative processes, a deeper understanding should be achieved of the dynamically unfolding configuration of opportunities that occur in crisis processes, and new knowledge generated about the possibility of special intervention by consultants.

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The spread of Covid-19 is a spatial phenomenon. Maps and statistics record the degrees of impact of different countries and regions, hotspots are identified and the influences of mobility practices such as holiday travel are critically examined. Thus, geography can make a significant contribution to understanding and combating the coronavirus pandemic. In a new special issue of the Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie, the guest editors Manuel B. Aalbers (KU Leuven), Niels Beerepoot and Martijn Gerritsen (both Universiteit van Amsterdam) have collected 26 contributions from different sub-areas of geography. The IRS is represented with two contributions. more info


Brinks, V., & Ibert, O. (2021). From Omniscient Narrator to Involved Participants: Places and Spaces “Activated” in the EHEC O104:H4 Crisis 2011. Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management. DOI: 10.1111/1468-5973.12332