Institute of Geography

Economic Geography

Urban Economies

Ongoing Projects

DEVELOPMENT OF INDUSTRIAL TOWNS

Kleine Stadt

Places that don`t matter? Socio-economic transformation of industrial towns in Switzerland and Slovenia

This project is funded through the Swiss National Science Foundation (11/2020-11/2023)

The project will examine industrial transformation in small and medium-sized towns. We analyze how these processes play out at the firm/sector level and how they affect communities (workers, families, civic society, etc.). We will focus on current crises such as Covid-19 and its impact on industrial culture, innovation dynamics and community response. We will conduct case studies in Switzerland and utilize qualitative and participatory research methods. The project is funded through the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Slowenian National Science Foundation and we will cooperate with our Slovenian research partners from the Anton Melik Geographical Institute in Ljubljana.

Completed Projects

Urban prosperity beyond the metropolis: Analyzing small and medium-sized towns in Switzerland
 Timeline September 2015 - June 2019
Funding Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)
Description Small and medium-sized towns (SMTs) have received little attention from both scholars and practitioners in urban and regional development. This research project aims to analyze the economic and political role of SMTs in Switzerland. We integrate a political science and economic geography perspective.
Involved Researchers
  • Heike Mayer, University of Bern
  • Fritz Sager, University of Bern
  • Rahel Meili, University of Bern
  • David Kaufmann, University of Bern
Press Release Press Release SNSF
Publications
Capital City Dynamics: A Comparative Analysis of Innovation and Positioning of Secondary Capital City Regions
 Timeline May 2013 - April 2016
Funding Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF)
Description Global and world city theories as well as new approaches to metropolitanization challenge the traditional role and centrality of capital cities. More specifically, capital cities that are not the dominant economic centers of their nations – so-called secondary capital cities – tend to be overlooked in the fields of economic geography and political science. This comparative research project examines the changing economic and political roles of four secondary capital cities (Bern, The Hague, Ottawa and Washington D.C.).
Involved Researchers
  • Heike Mayer, University of Bern
  • Fritz Sager, University of Bern
  • Martin Warland, University of Bern
  • David Kaufmann, University of Bern
Using Federal Institutions for the Regional Value Chains
Timeline 2012
Funding Verein Hauptstadtregion Schweiz
Description In this project, we examined the potential of selected federal institutions with regard to their effects on the economic structure of Switzerland’s Capital City Region. Particularly, we focused on the question how federal institutions influence regional value chains. 
Involved Researchers
  • Heike Mayer, University of Bern
  • Fritz Walter, ecoplan
Importance of the Capital City Region of Switzerland for the Regional Economy and its Added Value
Timeline 2011 - 2011
Funding Verein Hauptstadtregion Schweiz
Description For this project, we examined the importance and value-added effects of the capital city functions in the capital city region of Switzerland. The analysis included quantitative and qualitative data.
Involved Researchers
  • Heike Mayer, University of Bern
  • Marc Schnyder, HE-SO Wallis
Creating an Innovation Hub at St. Elizabeth in Washington D.C.
Timeline 2010-2012
Funding US Economic Development Administration
Description For this project we examined the potential of the move of headquarters of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to a new campus on the former St. Elizabeths hospital site, which is located in the southeast of the District of Columbia. The development of the campus will be the largest federal development project since the building of the Pentagon. The goal was to examine the potential of economic development based on capital city functions in a distressed community. The work was carried out in collaboration with DC Office of Planning and with Virginia Tech colleagues.
Involved Researchers
  • Heike Mayer, University of Bern
  • Margreth Cowell, Virginia Tech
  • John Provo, Virginia Tech
  • Patrick O`Brian, Virginia Tech
  • Christina Gabriel, Carnegie Mellon
Small Town Sustainability & the Slow City Movement
Description Small towns often play critical roles in regional economic systems. When small towns focus on their specific characteristics and take advantage of their opportunities, they can become stable niches within regional, national, and global economies and take on an important role in shaping a sustainable future. In an era in which the individuality and vitality of small towns are under threat from globalization, we reflect on the potential of small towns.
 Involved Researchers: 
  • Heike Mayer, University of Bern
  • Paul Knox, Virginia Tech