Call for Papers, Special Session @ 2021 Regions in Recovery E-Festival, Regional Studies Association, 2-18 June 2021

Session title:
Functions and Impacts of Collaborative workspaces in rural and peripheral regions and towns
- Open session



Panteion University, Greece


DAStU-Politecnico di Milano, Italy


Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space (IRS), Germany


Paris School of Business, France


Leibniz-Institute for Regional Geography (IfL), Germany


Tomas Bata University in Zlín, Czech Republic

Collaborative workspaces (hereafter CWS), such as coworking spaces, fab labs, creative hubs etc., for freelancers, self-employed, remote workers and start-ups are increasingly gaining attention of local and regional economic development strategies and policies as they are considered important intermediaries that help deliver entrepreneurial growth and local innovation agendas (Babb et al., 2018; Capdevila, 2015; Di Marino & Lapintie, 2018). Based on Deskmag (2019) we have witnessed an upsurge of CWS (600 CWS in 2010 – 18700 in 2018) with 1.65 million CWS users worldwide. CWS promote novel working practises with a collaborative, community-based approach to independent work such as freelance or self-employment, mainly in the field of cultural, digital, and creative industries (Cappelli & Keller, 2013). Whereas the vast majority of CWS are located in urban agglomerations, we recently observed the gradual spread of CWS in less densely populated cities, towns and villages in rural and even peripheral regions across the EU (Avdikos and Merkel, 2020, Fuzi, 2015). It seems that CWS may contribute to solving very specific socio-demographic challenges in these regions, such as brain drain, low investments level, low entrepreneurship level etc. Compared to urban CWS, rural CWS thereby differ in terms of scopes, functions and impacts. However, a systematic comparison between urban and rural CWS is still lacking and there is yet no clear evidence about their functions, their impacts and the ways that policymaking may (or should) promote a rural CWS wave and assist in linking the development of CWS with processes of local socio-economic development. In fact, that policy link is much needed for those disadvantaged places (Rodriguez-Pose, 2019), as only a few EU policies (e.g. Interreg) have assisted, in a fragmented way, the development of CWS in peripheral and rural areas.

We are inviting contributions that deal with the exploration of the multiple ways that CWS function in rural areas and peripheral towns and regions, e.g.:

–       Distribution and character of collaborative workspaces in rural and/ or peripheral regions 

–       Contributions of CWS to regional and local learning, creative, social or economic innovation or entrepreneurial processes 

–       Gender dynamics 

–       Functions of CWS in local and regional markets

–       Role of CWS in local and translocal entrepreneurial ecosystems

–       Potential contribution of CWS to sustainable regional development and relevant public policies


The session is supported by the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network CORAL “Exploring the impacts of collaborative workspaces in rural and peripheral areas in the EU” ( and the COST Action CA18214 “The Geography of New Working Spaces and the Impact on the Periphery” (2019-2023) ( 

Deadline for submission of abstracts: 17 March 2021

Submit your abstract here:

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This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 955907.