Knowledge and space are closely related. Knowledge, if unterstood as the ability to socially act in a competent and effective way, is not an object that can be easily located in space. It rather is a part of social practices and therefore embodied by social actors, shared among social practices of collaboration and worked into tools, artefacts and objects of the respective practice. Because knowledge cannot be mobilized without exerting a practice, it is strongly embedded in local contexts. For example, the knowledge of a heart surgeon can be mobilised best in the local context of a hospital with high-tech equipment, support from his staff and high numbers of patients. Despite this local embeddedness of knowledge it is possible to come up with or make use of the same ideas at different places if the contexts are rather similar.

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. This includes the transfer of knowledge in other practices (e.g. scientific consulting) and the forms of cooperations, the power relations and the media of knowledge sharing.

Photo: © Stephanie Hofschlaeger/

12. February | 2021

Coworking spaces, FabLabs and Maker Spaces have so far been predominantly found in large cities. But such "collaborative workspaces" are increasingly being established in rural areas, where they provide access to digital technologies and other work resources. A new EU-funded Innovative Training Network (ITN) is now studying the effects of such places. The IRS is involved with its research department "Dynamics of Economic Spaces". more info

16. October | 2019

Cities are routinely eulogized as harbingers of progress and emancipation, as the locus of innovation and creativity. And, in fact, the historical record of cities in engendering artistic, scientific or societal creativity from the ancient Greece polis over Renaissance Florence, Modern Art Paris to New York’s ‘Warhol Economy’ is impressive. More recently, though, discords began to mingle with the harmonious choir praising the allegedly greatest invention of humanity. The fixation with the unique affordances of urban places, as the critique maintains, has systematically impoverished our understanding of creativity in the periphery. To rectify this urban bias, a veritable stream of research initiatives has been launched more recently to push the focus of scholarly debate on creativity from center to periphery, from the urban to the rural. In addition to an international conference in Berlin on November 21 and 22, the issue is addressed in a special issue of "Industry and Innovation" guest edited by Gernot Graber (University of the Built Environment and Metropolitan Development, Hamburg) and Oliver Ibert (IRS and Brandenburg University of Technology, Cottbus). more info