Foto: Andreas Berheide/

The Research Area examines how spaces are constructed and transformed by interactive, innovative, creative, knowledge-based and entrepreneurial activity. It focuses on the complex interaction of civil society, public and private sector actors. The research focus thus pursues the goal of better understanding socio-spatial transformation processes towards a digitalised knowledge and innovation society as well as the interaction between global processes and their local effects, and to identify the related challenges. Research topics include the emergence and spatial diffusion of new ideas, novel forms of gainful and non-gainful employment, digital social innovations and social initiatives, as well as globalisation processes in the knowledge economy. Through interactive knowledge transfer, the Research Area supports cities and regions in shaping socio-economic transformation processes, increasing their adaptability to overarching developments of globalisation and digitalisation, and developing strategies for dealing with new spatial inequalities. The expertise offered by the Research Area addresses decision makers in politics, businesses and civil society, from the local to the supranational level, who deal with topics of economic development, regional development policy, rural development and innovation promotion as well as higher education policy.


Ongoing Lead Project

The lead project of the research focus "Economy and Civil Society" addresses profound transformation processes in knowledge and innovation societies, which in turn are characterised by disruptive events. The lead project "Post-Office" aims to understand the dynamics of change in knowledge-generating cooperation with its disruptive elements and to discuss resulting consequences for urban and rural regions. more


29. March 2024 | Selected publication
Paper on German University Campuses Abroad

German universities are less active in setting up campuses abroad compared to British or French universities, for example. However, some German universities are still expanding internationally and risk reproducing a neoliberal logic of educational commercialization. An article in the journal "Compare" highlights the correlations. more info

20. March 2024 | News

Leibniz Labs are a new tool of research organization. Their aim is to bring together the wide-ranging knowledge of the participating Leibniz Institutes in order to contribute jointly to the solution of pressing social problems and to make this knowledge accessible to a wide range of target groups. As part of the first funding round, the Leibniz Association has now selected three labs for funding. The IRS is participating in a lab that investigates how society deals with unexpected, fundamental upheavals. more info


Reseach Groups

Foto: Zarya Maxim/

The Research Group is interested in the interactions between creative processes, work and processes of economic and social change. In this context, local manifestations of dynamics such as digitalisation, social transformation processes and increasing multilocality of gainful employment are investigated. more infos

Foto: Comeback Images/stock.adobe. com

The Research Group analyses processes of emergence, establishment and dissemination of novel ideas, practices and projects in rural areas, which are referred to as social innovations. more infos