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On 19 July 2021, Linus Kalvelage successfully defended his dissertation entitled "Capturing value from wildlife tourism: growth corridors and global production networks". Congratulations!



Policies and research on raising the living standard of rural populations in countries of the Global South have often been centered on agricultural interventions, but they underestimate aspirations as one of the fundamental drivers of behaviour. The European Journal of Development Research Special Issue (Volume 33, issue 4, July 2021), edited by Kai Mausch, Dave Harris and Javier Revilla Diez, now offers new approaches for understanding these aspirations and their implications for development planning. A virtual roundtable discussion on the Issue and its key findings will be hosted by the guest editors and is due to take place on 26th August 2021.



On July 7, 2021, the students of the field trip "Strukturwandel im Rheinischen Revier", led by Prof. Dr. Revilla Diez and Dr. Breul, presented their research results to representatives of the Zukunftsagentur Rheinisches Revier. The topics included (1) the impact of lignite phase-out on municipalities in the Rhenish coalfield, (2) diversification strategies of incumbents in the Rhenish lignitefield and (3) the importance of inter-municipal cooperation in shaping structural change.




In Latin America, too, high hopes are being placed in development corridors. The Bioceanico development corridor connects the four countries Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Peru. To discuss experiences from around the world, the Institute of Agrarian and Rural Studies (IDEAR) organized a workshop on 21rst June 2020. Prof. Revilla Diez presented results from the SFB TR 228 "Future Rural Africa: Future in chains – socio-economic impacts of growth corridors".



In June 2021, the conference of the Association for African Studies in Germany "Africa Challenges" took place. Carolin Hulke gave the presentation "Regional value chains & rural development - Interpath relations between the tourism & horticulture sector in rural Namibia" on opportunities and risks of the emerging tourism sector in the Zambezi region. Linus Kalvelage dealt with the integration of wildlife into the value chain of hunting tourism under the title "Resource-making in Zambezi: who benefits from hunting tourism?"




For his project proposal “Setting the course for lignite mining regions in transition – Unpacking the pre-formation phase of path creation” Moritz Breul was awarded the prestigious Regional Studies Association Early Career Grant. The grant will allow Moritz Breul to investigate to what extent the configuration of regional policy-making processes in the Lausitz and Rhineland shape the direction of regional transformation strategies in the two lignite mining regions.   



As part of the event "#Revier2030. Mit Struktur in den Wandel", an event organized by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia which focused on the future of the Rhenish mining region after the end of lignite-fired power generation, Prof. Revilla Diez was part of a panel of experts. In this context, he assessed the potentials and challenges of structural change in the Rhenish mining area from an economic geography perspective.


The April 2021 meeting of the American Association of Geographers was held in the digital space. Carolin Hulke presented parts of her research on agricultural value chains in her presentation "Governing Regional Value Chains - Institutional layering in the horticulture sector in Namibia" and summarized results of her article (under review in Applied Geography): Collective action promotes the integration of smallholder farmers into regional value chains; national agricultural policy needs to take up these structures and support them with an appropriate institutional setting so that the region actually benefits.


"What do decision makers in policy and practice need to know about risk and adaptation futures?” Roxana Leitold is contributing to the 2020 Summer Academy on World Risk and Adaptation Futures: Social Protection and helps to advance the understanding of climate change adaptation and social protection for policy decision making. The Summer Academy is organized by the UNU-EHS and MRF, in collaboration with the UNFCCC.



With a short article on the research in the Zambezi region, Linus Kalvelage and Javier Revilla Diez participated in the launch of the new online publication "Tourism Geographic". The aim of this format is to make scientific articles from the journal "Tourism Geographies" accessible to a wider audience. The article can be read here:



This winter semester 2020/21, master students from the Institute of Geography are investigating the effects of the lignite phase-out in the Rheinische Revier area as part of a field internship led by Moritz Breul and Javier Revilla Diez. On December 11, the students presented their project ideas to the Zukunftsagentur Rheinisches Revier, which accompanies the structural change on site.



Roxana Leitold successfully defended her PhD thesis "Private sector engagement in flood risk reduction and climate change adaptation - Insights from manufacturing firms in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam" on 26th November 2020. Roxana Leitold analyzed the extent to which manufacturing firms are vulnerable to flooding and the factors that influence the flood adaptation strategies of enterprises in Ho Chi Minh City. Well done!


Moritz Breul and Thomas Neise (University of Osnabrück) received this year's Dr. Hohmann Fellowship of the Gesellschaft für Erdkunde zu Köln. Together they will pursue the project "Effects of Indonesia's capital relocation on entrepreneurial decisions - Emergence of a new growth center in East Kalimantan?" as part of the grant.



In February 2020, Pham T. T. Hoai successfully defended her PhD thesis on “Current and future household livelihood adaptation to changing social-ecological context - A case study in the rural coastal areas of the Vietnamese Mekong Delta and Red River Delta”. Pham’s PhD research explains the dynamics of livelihood of rural households as their adaptation to the changing social-ecological environment, thus emphasizing how the understanding of livelihood patterns is important to the sustainable development of these regions.


In September 2019, Javier Revilla Diez and Roxana participated in the DECIDER project kick-off workshop and presented their planned research in Ho Chi Minh City. Roxana Leitold then spent three months conducting scenario-based field experiments with local manufacturing firms in close collaboration with the Central Institute of Economic Management (CIEM) and the University of Economics and Law (UEL). The goal of the experiments is to analyze whether small- and medium sized firms are willing to participate in collaborative flood protection measures.



Field trip on structural change in the Rhine district

In cooperation with the city of Kerpen, twenty geography students under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Javier Revilla Diez and Dr. Moritz Breul are investigating in the winter semester 2019/2020 how the city of Kerpen can best meet the challenges of coal withdrawal .

Field School, DAAD Network – Potentials, challenges and conflicts of resource use in the Zambezi Region, Namibia

Eight Master students of the Geographical Institute attended a field school in Namibia  in July 2019. Attached to an ongoing research project by Javier Revilla Diez and Carolin Hulke, overall objective of the field school is to identify potentials, challenges and conflicts of communal resource and land use. Here you find more information.

The PhD students of the CRC "Future Rural Africa", Linus Kalvelage and Carolin Hulke, conducted research from May to September 2019 in Namibia and Zambia on rural development paths through tourism and agriculture. Linus Kalvelage dove into the world of trophy hunters who generate most of the turnover in the tourism sector in north-eastern Namibia. Carolin Hulke explored the influence of protectionist market policies in horticulture on small-scale value chain integration. In addition, they conducted a household survey in Zambia with colleagues from the University of Zambia on socio-economic conditions and livelihood strategies in the structurally weak, peripheral Western Province.

In March 2019, Prof. Javier Revilla Diez, Carolin Hulke and Linus Kalvelage travelled through southern Tanzania, the so-called Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor, for two weeks to prepare the research project for next year. Local cooperation partners are the pillars of successful research, so we are happy to have been able to establish good relationships with local universities: the Geography Institute of the University of Dar-es-Salaam, Mzumbe University in Morogoro and the University of Iringa. Together we will now plan the next field phases within the framework of the CRC 228: Future Rural Africa.

In a talk on „Gateway Cities in globalen Produktionsnetzwerken: Filtereffekte territorialer Intermediäre am Beispiel von Singapur in der Öl- und Gasindustrie“ Moritz Breul presented parts of his dissertation at the meeting of the economic geography working group in Rauischholzhausen on 27th of April 2019.

On March 11, 2019, Javier Revilla Diez and Moritz Breul organized an excursion for master students of the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies of the Erasmus University Rotterdam. The excursion was dedicated to the economic structural transformation of the district Mülheim in Cologne. Besides the former sites of the Deutz AG which are currently being planned, the excursion group visited the successfully converted commercial campus Carlswerk.

In March 2019, Carolin Hulke presented at the conference "Resources for a social-ecological transformation" at the University of Innsbruck first results of her doctoral thesis. Under the title "Conflicting conservation? Regional agricultural value chains and possibilities of participation in Northern Namibia" she showed land-use conflicts and socio-spatial effects of environmental protection forced by the government, as they contradict the needs of the population in the Zambezi region widely dependent on agriculture. Bottom-up strategies of the local population therefore refer to regional value chains with limited possibilities for participation in commercialized agriculture.

In October and November 2018, Roxana Leitold was on an exploratory trip to Vietnam and prepared her research on the vulnerability and adaptation of firms to flooding in the Ho Chi Minh City metropolitan area. Contacts were established with potential project partners, authorities and non-governmental organisations. In close cooperation with the University of Economics and Law (UEL), Roxana has also conducted some interviews with flood-prone companies in the metropolitan area of the megacity. Further on-site interviews are planned for February and March 2019.

The working group congratulates Moritz Breul on successfully defending his doctoral thesis entitled "Gateway Cities in Global Production Networks: The role of territorial intermediaries in the oil and gas industry for regional economic development in Southeast Asia". As part of his dissertation, Moritz Breul investigated how certain cities integrate economic activities of neighboring regions into global production networks and what effects this spatial organizational structure has on regional economic development.

Carolin Hulke and Linus Kalvelage have completed the first phase of data collection in the Zambezi region in Namibia. From September to mid-November 2018 they worked in close cooperation with the partners at the Wildlife Management and Ecotourism Department of the University of Namibia (UNAM) campus in Katima Mulilo on their respective research questions. Please find here more information.

Thomas Neise successfully defended his PhD-thesis about „Firms’ adaptation strategies to floods and their potential implication on regional economic development – Insights from Jakarta and Semarang, Indonesia” on the 11th September 2018. In his PhD-thesis, Thomas Neise analyzed which flood adaptation strategies manufacturing firms develop in Jakarta and Semarang. He also investigated whether small and medium-sized firms are willing to cooperate to implement collaborative flood risk reduction measures.

Moritz Breul and Thomas Neise organized the 3rd Workshop of the "Young Economic Geographers Network" (YEGN) in Lindlar from 20th to 22nd July 2018. The aim of the workshop is to network, to exchange ideas and perspectives, to communicate and to build long-lasting relationships - beyond fields and nations. Dissertation projects are presented and discussed in a casual and relaxed atmosphere. Please find here more information.

In May 2018, Carolin Hulke and Linus Kalvelage were on their first exploration phase in Namibia and have prepared the research within the project "Future Rural Africa". Potential project partners in Windhoek, Walvis Bay and the Kavango-Zambezi region were acquired at the University of Namibia as well as in governmental and non-governmental organizations. The team will investigate the linkage of tourism and agricultural value chains along the Trans-Caprivi Highway, which is supposed to function as a growth corridor in the region.

The kick-off symposium on 9th April 2018 marked the official start of the Collaborative Research Center 228: "Future Rural Africa: future-making and social-ecological transformation". This cooperation between the University of Bonn and the University of Cologne was made possible by the funding of the German Research Group (DFG). We are pleased to be able to work with our working group on this forward-looking project within the framework of the subproject C01: Future in Chains and are eagerly awaiting the research results from Namibia and Tanzania.

On 12th of April 2018, Moritz Breul presented a study titled “World Cities as Gateways: Supranational Hubs, National Primary Cities and Specialised Outliers” at the Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers (AAG) in New Orleans. It is a comparative study that compares the different roles of Singapore, Cape Town and Buenos Aires in the oil and gas industry.

The working group is glad to organize the "3rd Workshop of the Young Economic Geographers Network (YEGN)" taking place from 20th until 22nd July, 2018 in Lindlar. The YEGN creates a space for young scholars in economic geography and closely related disciplines. Aligned with the Global Conference on Economic Geography at the University of Cologne, the YEGN workshop takes place under the title ""Unequal Contours of Development in the Global South". Until the 15th of March we are looking forward to receiving your abstracts. Further information can be found here.

The working group congratulates Jöran Wrana on completing his dissertation "Multinational Enterprises, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Regional Institutional Change in Vietnam". Jöran Wrana analysed the influence of multinational enterprises on the quality of vocational training in Vietnam. The positive impact this was supposed to have is limited, as the needs and interests of the private domestic companies were not sufficiently taken into account. We wish him all the best for the future!


Carolin Hulke, our new Ph.D. student, was in the rural areas of Central Vietnam to conduct research for her master thesis. She interviewed 18 smallholders and decision-makers in four villages and combined quantitative analysis of an extensive dataset of three provinces (www. with her own results of qualitative research. The thesis examines the smallholders' joint adaption strategies against external risks and by what factors these are influenced, and if different forms of social capital are a key factor to secure long-term success of these strategies.

Thomas Neise, Jöran Wrana, Moritz Breul and Roxana Leitold were taking part in the German Conference of Geography 2017 in Tübingen in October 2017. Moritz Breul explained in his talk if outlying areas equipped with resources are integrated into global production networks, new agglomeration of industries do develop. Jöran Wrana illustrated that the concept of the global production network can be stronger underlined if it is combined with the concept of proximity. Thomas Neise presented first results of his scenario-based experiments on the willingness of small and medium-sized industrial companies to invest in joint measures of flood protection in Jakarta and Semarang.


Professor Revilla Diez and eight students of the Institute of Geography took a field trip to Argentina from 19th August until 2nd September, 2017. They were assisted by colleagues of the Universidad San Martin in Buenos Aires in organising the trip and conducting interviews. The excursion was striving to gain more insights into the production of soya beans in Argentina and into the influence that is exerted by stock exchanges for food, international capital markets and financial instruments.

The working group congratulates Thu Nguyen Xuan and Franziska Sohns on completing their dissertations. Thu Nguyen Xuan did her PhD on industrial change in Vietnam following the Doi Moi reforms; Franziska Sohns did her dissertation on micro-entrepreneurship in rural Vietnam. We wish them all the best for the future!


From 20th to 23rd August 2017, Thomas Neise took part in the conference ""Resilience 2017 - Resilience Frontiers for Global Sustainability" in Stockholm. He presented his first results of the scenario-based experiments about the engagement of small and medium-sized firms in collective flood risk reduction measures. This investigation is part of our research project: "Natural hazards and firms' decision-making under risk between individual and regional adaptation strategies in Indonesia."

Moritz Breul spent three months in Indonesia and Vietnam, from March until June 2017, within the context of the research project ""Gateway Cities and their Hinterland: Global Cities from the Global South as Nodes in Global Commodity Chains", funded by the DfG (German Research Foundation). He interviewed various managers of the oil and gas industry in these two countries. This project aims to broaden the understanding about the spatial hinge function of certain cities. In those so-called "Gateway Cities" there are economic activities located that integrate their region into global commodity chain. Please find here more information.


At 10th of April 2017, Thomas Neise and Moritz Breul presented preliminary research results from their respective research projects in Indonesia at the Economic Research Center of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI). In his presentation "'Beyond '"rope, dope and soap"'? An assessment of domestic capabilities in the Indonesian oil and gas industry'" Moritz Breul outlined the features of Indonesia's integration in the global oil & gas value chain. In his presentation he identifies mechanism that have led to an enhancement of local capacities as well as factors that inhibit an upgrading. Thomas Neise shows in his presentation "Firms' contribution to flood risk reduction - scenario-based experiments from Jakarta and Semarang, Indonesia" under which conditions small and medium-sized firms are willing to contribute to flood risk measures.


Prof. Dr. Javier Revilla Diez and Franziska Sohns attended the "AAG Annual Meetin 2017" in Boston from 4th to 9th of April 2017. They presented current research results from their working paper "Who survives over time?" - a multi-level survival Analysis of microenterprises in rural Vietnam." By using multilevel analyses, the working paper shows that access to credit institutions, local market potentials and access to interregional markets have a positive impact on the survival probability of micro-enterprises in rural Vietnam.


In April 2017, Thomas Neise and Fabio Pruß participated in the 4th TWIN-SEA Workshop in Bali, Indonesia. Thomas Neise presented results of his research "Firms' contribution to Flood Risk Reduction: Scenario-based Experiments from Jakarta and Semarang". He analyzed whether small- and medium-sized firms are willing to contribute to collective flood risk reduction measures. Fabio Pruß presented the results of his bachelor thesis: "Impact of Natural Hazards and Climate Change in Semarang, Indonesia - an Economic Damage Model". He estimated the (direct) economic damage caused by land subsidence and rising sea levels for the years 2030 and 2050 in the Indonesian city of Semarang. Here you will find more information.


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Vom 6. - 8. April 2017 nahm Jöran Wrana an der 44. AIB (UK&I) & 6. Reading IB Konferenz teil und stellte dabei aktuelle Forschungsergebnisse aus seinem Working Paper "How do firm characteristics, FDI and regional institutions influence the implementation of global CSR standards among private Vietnamese firms?" vor. Im Rahmen einer Mehrebenenanalyse konnte Jöran Wrana zeigen, dass insbesondere das regionale institutionale Umfeld einen positiven Einfluss auf die Implementierung dieser Standards ausübt, während die räumliche Nähe zu multinationalen Unternehmen einen negativen Effekt besitzt.


Jöran Wrana has participated at the '19th university days of vocational education' at the University of Cologne, Germany. In his presentation 'Who benefits from pilot projects based on foreign skill formation systems in Vietnam?', Jöran Wrana has pointed out why local manufacturing enterprises neither join nor adopt novel cooperative training approaches with local universities or vocational colleges, recently set up by MNEs in Vietnam's Red River Delta.

In November 2016, Thomas Neise was invited to support voluntarily the activity entitled "Connecting Jakarta - Writing Workshop and Discussion about Flood-proof District" at Rumah Muara, South Jakarta. 22 students from a Junior High School participated in the workshop. Together with Thomas, the pupils were discussing social issues affecting their area. Particularly how the neighborhood can reduce the flood risk was elaborated. The pupils were so enthusiastic since they had unpleasant experiences (e.g. damage of house interior) due to pluvial floods in South Jakarta. At the workshop session, Thomas shared his knowledge and provided an overview of the working group research project about flood exposure in Jakarta and Semarang. Please find here more information.

Jöran Wrana has participated at the annual ‘International Conference on University-based Entrepreneurship and Regional Development: Theory, Empirics And Practical Implementation (ICUBERD)’ at the University of Pécs in Hungary. In his presentation ‘From Co-Evolution to Proto-Institutions? Examining the role of universities for the diffusion of new institutions’, Jöran Wrana has pointed out how Vietnamese universities can foster the diffusion of new institutions into the regional economy by enhancing their collaboration with local enterprises.

Jöran Wrana has participated at the annual ‘International Conference on University-based Entrepreneurship and Regional Development: Theory, Empirics And Practical Implementation (ICUBERD)’ at the University of Pécs in Hungary. In his presentation ‘From Co-Evolution to Proto-Institutions? Examining the role of universities for the diffusion of new institutions’, Jöran Wrana has pointed out how Vietnamese universities can foster the diffusion of new institutions into the regional economy by enhancing their collaboration with local enterprises.

Recently Franziska Sohns gave an interview to the American Geographical Society. She talked about the main results of the recently published paper "Self-employment and its influence on the vulnerability to poverty of households in rural Vietnam – A panel data analysis". The paper highlights that the effect of becoming self-employed on poverty reduction is context-specific and depends on the regional economic circumstances. Hence, becoming self-employed can help rural households escaping poverty, but only if they are located in a regional economic environment that is characterized by ongoing structural change and offers economic opportunities. In very poor regions dominated by agriculture, self-employment does not help households to escape poverty.

In Oktober 2016, Moritz Breul and Thomas Neise took part at the “First International Conference on Social Sciences and Humanities” from our research partner, the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), in Jakarta. Moritz Breul presented findings from a study on the regional role of Southeast Asian cities in the upstream segment of the oil and gas value chain. The study reveals which cities integrate peripheral sites of extraction into global economic processes in different ways. Thomas Neise presented his empirical findings about the exposure to flood and adaptation strategies of the manufacturing sector in Jakarta and Semarang, Indonesia.

Under direction of Prof. Dr. Revilla Diez and Mr Joeran Wrana, eight Master’s degree students went to Guangzhou, South China in September 2016. They attended a summer school at the Sun Yat-sen University. The summer school was part of the thematic international network “Remapping the Global South“ (funded by DAAD with means from BMBF). In cooperation with Chinese students the proceeding transformation of the food retail sector was analyzed. The focus of the research laid on supermarketization – the retail shift towards supermarkets. For more information, please click here.

From September to November 2016 Moritz Breul carried out the first field phase for his doctoral thesis in the DFG-funded research project "Gateway Cities and their Hinterland: Global Cities from the Global South as Nodes in Global Commodity Chains". The project examines the intermediary function of Singapore in the oil and gas value chain as well as the developmental consequences for the ‘Hinterland’. During his stay in Singapore, Moritz Breul has been able to conduct interviews with various actors along the value chain. The research stay was supported by our partner the Global Production Networks Centre at the National University of Singapore (GPN@NUS).


The research group has organised the annual meeting of the working group of Southeast Asia at the 2nd and 3rd of July 2016 together with the research group Urban and Social Geographie.

Amongst others, Thomas Neise, Franziska Sohns, Moritz Breul, and Jöran Wrana presented the progress of their promotion projects, Fabio Pruss presented first results of his undergraduate thesis.

Thomas Neise is staying in Jakarta and Semarang,  Indonesia, in order to conduct interviews with Indonesian industrial companies and to collect data for his doctoral thesis "Natural Hazards and Firms Decision Making under Risk between Individual and Regional Adaption Strategies in Indonesia". Besides, he presents first results at the conference "New Regional Formatins" at the University Gadjah Mada Yogyakarta and the WIN-SEA Workshop at LIPI, Jakarta. This research stay is supported by our partner LIPI (Indonesian Institute of Science) and the University Indonesia.


Fabio Pruß is staying in Indonesia for some research activities and in order to collect data for his bachelor thesis "The Impact of Natural Hazards and Climate Change on Semarang, Indonesia – An Economic Damage Model". Besides, he participates in two conferences, attends interviews with Thomas Neise and benefits from a lively exchange with many other colleagues.