Main research topics

Research at the Institute

Research in economic geography in Hannover is primarily concerned with regional economic structural change in countries and regions at different levels of development (e.g. Europe, North America, Southeast Asia). Research here focuses in particular on the digitalisation of the economy, entrepreneurship and business start-ups, global environmental change and sustainable development, mobility, knowledge and innovation, as well as economic development and policy-making.

The research in Hannover, which is oriented towards cultural and social geography, focuses primarily on questions of coexistence in the increasingly diverse major cities worldwide. In addition to the theoretical and empirical analysis of social geographies of urban coexistence, we also address questions of financialisation processes in cities of the Global South, memory policies, infrastructures and social cohesion in society, as well as attitudes to and reactions to global (climate) change.

For us, internationality in research means that we put our research results up for discussion internationally and at the same time receive important impulses for our own research through close personal contacts with internationally renowned colleagues and thus keep an eye on the state of research. For this reason, we publish in leading journals such as Regional Studies, Research Policy, Journal of Economic Geography, Economic Geography, Small Business Economics, Cities, Applied Geography, Geoforum or Mobilities. Furthermore, we regularly present our research findings at international conferences such as the European Regional Science Association, the Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers or the Geography of Innovation Conference. In addition, we conduct research projects together with foreign colleagues, currently from Shanghai or Los Angeles, for example.


  • What effects does digitization have on regional disparities?
  • How does digitization change location requirements and the spatial embeddedness of firms?

Involved researchers from the institute: Vanessa Blobel, Dmitry Boyko, Lukas Häfner, Louis Knüpling, Ingo Liefner, Kerstin Schäfer, Rolf Sternberg

Entrepreneurship and start-ups

  • What factors determine entrepreneurial activities and what regional economic effects do they have?
  • To what extent are entrepreneurial activities conditioned by the regional context?

Involved researchers from the institute: Rolf Sternberg, Niels Wendt

Global environmental change and sustainable development

  • How do private households and companies react to structural change in a globalised economy affected by global environmental changes?
  • To what extent can new technologies and innovations contribute to sustainable development?

Involved researchers from the institute: Julian Barnikol, Peter Dirksmeier, Ingo Liefner, Kerstin Nolte


  • How will the transportation services of the future change the way we move through space? How can we ensure that everyone benefits from new technologies?
  • What is the tension between transportation infrastructures and sustainability? Can new transport services create alternatives?

Involved researchers from the institute: Dmitry Boyko, Kerstin Schäfer, Lennart Schott

Urban theory

  • How and on the basis of which indicators do major cities develop?
  • How is social science literature applied in urban theorising?

Involved researchers from the institute: Peter Dirksmeier, Angelina Göb, Elena Hubner, Karolin Kautzschmann

Urban life and social cohesion

  • What role do spatial contexts play for individual attitudes and prejudices?
  • How is the relationship between social cohesion and encounter structured in the city?

Involved researchers from the institute: Peter Dirksmeier, Angelina Göb, Elena Hubner

Economic development and policy

  • What strategies and instruments can be used to achieve spatial economic policy goals?
  • What role do digitization, environmental protection and innovation play in spatial economic policy?

Involved researchers from the institute: Julian Barnikol, Lukas Häfner, Karolin Kautzschmann, Ingo Liefner, Rolf Sternberg

Knowledge and innovation

  • How do new technologies and innovations emerge?
  • What regional patterns exist in the creation of knowledge and innovation and why are innovative firms concentrated regionally?

Involved researchers from the institute: Julian Barnikol, Christoph Friedrich, Lukas Häfner, Anne-Sophie Kagel, Louis Knüpling, Ingo Liefner, Kerstin Schäfer, Lennart Schott, Rolf Sternberg

Transcultural learning and competence approach: knowledge transfer in German-Chinese cooperation projects