ESR15: CWS as a new panacea in rural regional development? Reflections from Germany, Italy and France

Host:  Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space (IRS), Erkner, Germany, Supervisors: Suntje Schmidt (IRS), Elmar Kulke (Humboldt University)

1 PhD position, full-time

Duration: September 2021 – August 2024

CWS are widely perceived as novel and valuable spatial and social solutions in volatile, sometimes even turbulent structural transformation processes. In urban contexts these spaces seem to have proven their value for digital and creative independent workers who lack an organizational context for work that they now may find in CWS. These processes combined with vivid and quite visible discourses on the role of CWS in innovation and creativity driven processes has motivated policy makers to regard CWS as potential tools for fostering regional development processes. However, there seems to be a gap between the actual function and role of CWS and the expectations from diverse policy fields.

The fellow will be integrated in the PhD training programme of the Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany.

Secondments are foreseen at the Politecnico di Milano and the University of Lille and the Region of Western Greece.


  • Conceptual development and implementation of a PhD research project within the frame of the above topic,
  • Developing a research design for identifying and comparing policy measures supporting CWS in urban core regions and rural- peripheral regions,
  • Reconstruct the objectives these spaces fulfil between cores and rural regions in a transnational qualitative comparison between Germany, France and Italy,
  • Contributing to the research program of the IRS department “Dynamics of Economic Spaces”.


  • Very good Masters’ degree in a program with spatial perspectives, such as geography, regional and spatial planning, regional and spatial development, spatial policies,  organisational or business studies, economics, or another discipline corresponding to the topic of the project
  • Experiences in qualitative and quantitative research methods in social sciences
  • Excellent English language skills and preferably good knowledge of German
  • Experiences in IT-based communication tools
  • Willingness to actively participate in secondments, national and international conferences and workshops
  • Excellent communication skills, capacity for teamwork, flexibility and an interest in interdisciplinary research
  • excellent communication skills
  • strong interest in interdisciplinary collaboration and in working in a cooperative and flexible team environment

The fellow should contribute to the outreach of the project, especially by:

  • Elaborating a PhD thesis
  • Active participation in progressing the ITN’s publications (WP monographs, journal articles)
  • Active participation in scientific conferences, policy workshops etc. at national and EU level
  • Participation in media communication, in the development of a web-based glossary, in creating video clips and podcasts and in disseminating project information at the EU level using the European Commissions’ communication tools 

The IRS explicitly supports the compatibility of career and family and was certified as a family-oriented employer.

For further information you may contact:

Prof. Dr. Suntje Schmidt,; +49(0)3362 793 172.

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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.