Organization and Management Theory OMT

  • 1.  Spaces of Crisis

    Posted 02-01-2020 06:54

    26 - 29 May 2020
    Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space (IRS) in Erkner, near Berlin

    The IRS Spring Academy is a yearly format similar to a PhD summer school but, as the name suggests, taking place in spring. It is an international and interdisciplinary format that provides spots for 25 participants, typically doctoral students but also post-doctoral researchers in the early phase of their careers. The overarching aim of the IRS Spring Academy is to support qualification projects which seek to explore the spatial dimension of societally relevant topics. In particular we seek to stimulate debates at the intersections of disciplines and seek to promote academics who wish to conduct research with a spatial perspective. The IRS Spring Academy is dedicated to stimulate conceptual debates around a spatial perspective and to support new methodological knowledge that is required to conduct the related empirical investigations. Moreover, the IRS Spring Academy is a brokerage event that supports participants to build up personal networks and it provides feedback from acknowledged seniors for researchers at the early stage of their careers.

    Each IRS Spring Academy will take four intensive days of collaboration, discussion and exchange. The program combines different elements and thereby offers plenty of opportunities to debate conceptual issues and methodological challenges as well as to engage in a critical, yet constructive and supportive dialogue.

    This year's fourth IRS Spring Academy titled "Investigating Space(s): Current Theoretical and Methodological Approaches: Part 4 – Spaces of Crisis" is supported by the Leibniz Research Alliance "Crises in a Globalised World". The German Red Crosswill act as a local cooperation partner in 2020.

    Part 4 on "Spaces of Crisis"

    There is little doubt. We live in times of crisis. Core functions of democratic societies, like the financial system, democratic institutions, the free press or human-nature relationships are under severe pressure. Global problems, like increasing social inequality and mass migration tend to escalate while those political institutions that have been built up to deal with international emergencies, like the UN and WTO, experience a loss of legitimacy and funding. As a consequence, more and more political and economic decisions are made under conditions of high uncertainty and great pressure. In other words, they are made in crisis.

    In the social sciences, crisis has not yet been used as a properly defined scientific term. Rather, most typically it is used as a signifier of relevance in cases, in which "problem" is no longer sufficient to express the severity of the perceived deficiency or the felt urgency to act. In crisis management, a rather recent and strongly practice-oriented knowledge domain, crisis is defined as followings: It denotes escalating threatening situations, in which actors feel an increased pressure to act under conditions of fundamental uncertainty. Crises erupt surprisingly and once the dynamics are in place, they unfold in an unpredictable manner. Crisis is a highly ambivalent notion. It marks a turning point for better or worse. 

    The term crisis is full of temporal implications. It suggests a certain dramaturgy of abruptness, urgency and surprise. In hindsight, the course of events is often arranged around the acute crisis. Crisis mangers differentiate between pre-crisis (or: the 'primordial phase'), the acute crisis and the post-crisis. The first phase is about preparation for crisis but most often also about ignored warning signals. The acute phase is about crisis management and techniques to regain control. The latter phase is about reflecting the course of events and learning from crisis. Up until recently, the spatial dimension of crisis, however, has been neglected, despite the fact that in an era of increasing global inter-dependencies, crises have become more "trans-boundary".

    Against this background, the 4th IRS Spring Academy has the following aims:

    To come to a theoretically ambitious understanding of crisis, highlighting in particular…

    • the enhanced relevance of uncertainty and non-knowledge,
    • the mechanisms behind the dynamics of crisis,
    • the relationship between crisis and normal,
    • the particularities of decisions made under conditions of crisis,
    • the transformative potentials of crisis and
    • the often implicit assumptions that underlie the idea of crisis.

    To explore the temporal and spatial dimensions of crisis and their connections. Of particular interest are

    • tipping points, in which crises emerge or calm down,
    • ways of thinking about the future in situations that lack orientation,
    • the transgression of territorial borders and the embeddedness in multi-level systems and
    • how crises affect and connect different places.

    To collect empirical knowledge about crises in different sectors and domains in order to

    • explore the possibilities to compare crises and to
    • discover additional aspects of crisis.

    Discuss methodological challenges and strategies. Of particular relevance are

    • ethical concerns of doing research with threatened actors and organizations,
    • access to highly confidential information and
    • the challenges of dealing with multiple perspectives and with ex-post accounts.

    The overarching goal of the IRS Spring Academy is to enable junior researchers from the social sciences to identify relevant research gaps, to encourage them to use a spatial perspective in their analyses and to learn from leading experts in the field about theoretical approaches and innovative methods for empirical work. Participants will have the opportunity to present their projects in paper pitch formats and to access leading experts for one-on-one consultancies. We therefore cordially invite doctoral and early postdoctoral researchers in the social sciences, geography and history to join us for an interesting program to discuss their own research with internationally leading scholars and their peers.

    The IRS Spring Academy combines well-tried and proven formats such as lectures and seminars with less common formats such as doing-research workshops, paper pitches, or academic speed networking. It offers various possibilities to exchange ideas, to discuss current concepts and methodological approaches, as well as to getting feedback on one's own research projects from leading scholars in the field.

    :: download Call for Applications – the call closes on 28 February 2020

    Keynote Speakers

    • Prof. Dr. Dennis Dijkzeul | Ruhr-Universität Bochum
    • Prof. Dr. Jörg Sydow | Freie Universität, Berlin


    • Prof. Dr. Olivier Berthod | Jacobs University Bremen
      Dr. Natascha Bing | German Red Cross
      Jun.-Prof. Dr. Verena Brinks | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
      Dr. Sarah Marie Hall | University of Manchester
      Prof. Dr. Oliver Ibert | Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space
      Dr. Thorsten Klose-Zuber | German Red Cross

    Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Spacer (IRS), Flakenstraße 29-31, 15537 Erkner, Germany
    Deutsches Rotes Kreuz e. V., DRK-Generalsekretariat, Carstennstraße 58, 12205 Berlin, Germany

    For inquiries please contact Sarah Brechmann:
    :: phone: +49 3362 793-160

    Joerg Sydow
    Freie Universitaet Berlin