Knowledge and innovation constitute the basis for reflexive action within a framework of socio-spatial development processes, as they are inextricably linked with practical action. IRS research examines how innovations unfold as social processes in their specific spatial contexts – from Open Creative Labs in large cities to innovative forms of community development in rural areas. The IRS analyses the genesis of knowledge as well as the dynamics of communicating such knowledge in various spatial contexts.

Some research at the IRS focuses on the nature of embedding knowledge into spatial processes, on the forms and practices of sharing knowledge over several places and on the interreleation between the mobility and the translation of knowledge for different local contexts. more infos

In social sciences there is a high interest in the organisation, stimulation, promotion and governance of innovation processes. The IRS contributes a distinctive spatial and temporal perspective to this research. more infos

The research on new social practises at the IRS aims at moving beyond sectoral perspectives on innovation (technical, economic, social). It is based on the idea of innovation as a socially and culturally embedded process, within which new and existing technical solutions, business models and socio-cultural practices are (re-)combined. more infos


IRS research focuses on the analysis of crises in the sense of severe disruptions of existing routines and the associated resilience strategies in spatial development. It analyses the spatial perception of crises and uncertainties as well as the capability of individuals, organisations and spaces to adapt to such challenges.

Konzeptionelle Zugänge zu Krise und Resilienz

At the IRS the researchers systematically look at the concepts of crisis, vulnerability and resilience from a social science perspective and with regard to socio-spatial dimensions. more infos

Krisen und Resilienzen im Mehrebenensystem

The development of resilient spaces as a reaction to crises is by no means a local phenomenon. Some research at IRS therefore focuses on dynamics of crises and resilience in the context of multi-level systems. more infos

At the IRS scientists conduct research on resilience related to dangers and uncertainties that are not only connected with natural events. These endangerments can also evolve due to technical, economic or social causes. more infos


Institutions develop in accordance to their respective spatial characteristics and range. They regulate and coordinate cultural and political processes either formally or informally. It is for this reason that for the IRS dedicates much of its research to the interplay of different governance arrangements and the social (re)construction of spaces, as for example, in the field of urban policy or regional development.

raumbezogene Governance

The foci of governance research at the IRS are constructions of space that are constituted by collective action and are results or places of spatial governance. more infos

In different research projects and departments the IRS conducts research on the dynamics of institutions. In this context creating and sustaining spatial development paths is of particular interest as well as the spatially-related change of institutional systems and regimes, for example in transition research. more infos


Based on the recognition that digitalization is currently among the most influential drivers of social change, and is also reorganising our knowledge of the world, at the IRS we are particularly examining the spatial implications of this issue. In 2017, we decided to establish a new interdisciplinary topic called “Mediatisation and Digitalisation of Forms of Action” to study how forms of acting and knowledge change as a result of mediatisation and digitalisation, and especially the consequences for spatial development.

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