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New working spaces, migration and regional regeneration

Project Description

The University of Bath is inviting applications for the following PhD project based in the School of Management under the supervision of Professor Phil Tomlinson ( and Dr Mariachiara Barzotto.


In an era characterised by disruptive technological changes, stagnant growth and precarious self-employment, working is becoming less dependent on distance, location and time. Increasingly, people work outside regular working hours - often outside the traditional office, where new technologies are used extensively. Moreover, whilst workers in information and communication technologies (ICTs) prefer a high flexibility and hybridisation of workplaces - including unusual places like libraries, cafes, restaurants, hotel and airport lounges - self-employed and freelance workers still need social and professional interaction in order to reduce risks of isolation (particularly high in home working) and to increase networking opportunities. These are some of the reasons that have fostered the creation and diffusion of new workspaces such as coworking spaces (CS), maker spaces (MS) - including Fab Lab – open creative labs which facilitate the ‘making of things’ (Merkel, 2018).

Current studies have mainly focused on social and professional interactions of self-employed and freelance workers that occur in CS and MS. However, there is scant evidence on the socio-economic effects of CS and MS at the regional level and, specifically, in lagging regions. These regions typically lack skills, knowledge, technologies and network capabilities, but currently are receiving rising attention within policy debates; especially the discourse on promoting more inclusive and balanced regional growth and reviving economically depressed regions.

Within this context, public incentives at the regional level, policy tools and measures subsidising entrepreneurship, employment creation via the establishment of new working spaces may reduce the disadvantages of the peripheral areas, thus raising their economic performance.

The following are indicative of the types of projects we would be interested in supporting:

- Proposals seeking to analyse industrial policy design and evaluation covering different theoretical and empirical perspectives on new working spaces, such as CS and MS, in peripheral economies.
- Proposals exploring socio-economic ecosystems in peripheral areas located in advanced economies in order to evaluate how the presence of new working spaces may sustain an inclusive development and competitiveness in peripheral areas.
- Proposal investigating how new working spaces may foster urban (re)generation and encourage migration process of knowledge workers in peripheral areas.
- Proposals seeking to identify and evaluate place-sensitive planning measures on how new working spaces can drive of the economic change in the periphery.

Other proposals on similar regional economic themes are encouraged.


We are looking for highly motivated candidates from any disciplinary background who have strong quantitative skills (or would be able and willing to develop them) and/or strong qualitative skills to undertake a PhD in Regional Economics and Industrial Policy beginning in September 2020.

Applicants are invited to submit informal proposals by Friday 10 January 2020.

Informal applications should be directed to Professor Phil Tomlinson () and/or Dr Mariachiara Barzotto (). This should include an outline of your proposed research (approximately 2,500 to 3,000 words/ up to six pages), which must include:

- Your name
- Proposed programme of study
- Tentative title of thesis
- Aims and objectives
- Rationale
- Methodology
- Timeline
- Bibliography

The successful applicant will undertake their studies as a full-time PhD student within the School of Management, where they will be provided with professional scholarly research training. Dependent upon the precise focus of the PhD, there is a potential opportunity to undertake a short internship at the UK Cabinet Office in the Department for Communities and Local Government/ Business Energy and Industrial Strategy.

In addition, there may be funding for the successful applicant to participate in the activities of a funded EU COST Action entitled ‘The Geography of New Working Spaces and the Impact on the Periphery’. These activities include:

- An International training school to learn assessment of practices, related policy and plans
- Short term scientific missions
- Conference small grants

Additional information on the COST Action CA18214 can be found at

Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form:

Please ensure that you quote the supervisor’s name and project title in the ‘Your research interests’ section.

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found here:

Anticipated start date: 28 September 2020.

Funding Notes

Candidates applying for this project will be considered for a University studentship, which will cover UK/EU tuition fees, a training support grant of £1,000 per annum and a tax-free maintenance allowance at the UKRI Doctoral Stipend rate (£15,009 in 2019-20) for a period of up to 4 years. Limited funding opportunities for outstanding Overseas candidates may be available. Some School of Management studentships require recipients to contribute annually up to a maximum of 133 hours of seminar-based teaching and assessment in years 2, 3 and 4 of study (students will not be expected to give lectures).

How good is research at University of Bath in Business and Management Studies?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 64.90

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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