Stadtökonomie im Wandel - urbane Produktion im Zeitalter von Digitalisierung und Hybridisierung

Mühl, Caroline; Fromhold-Eisebith, Martina (Thesis advisor); Neiberger, Cordula (Thesis advisor)

Aachen : RWTH Aachen University (2023)
Dissertation / PhD Thesis

Dissertation, Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen, 2023


The awareness for a comprehensive transformation of society and economy is currently growing, especially with increasing challenges and global crises, such as climate change, social disparities and economic crises. In scientific and political debates, there exists, among others, a growing interest in the social impact of digitalization and its implications for urban economies. Affected by increasing urbanization, digitalization and sustainability, cities are a critical factor and starting point of various transition and transformation paths. In light of the vision of "Urban Manufacturing", various studies expect that innovations in the field of digitalization and Industry 4.0 will increasingly ensure the re-establishment of city-friendly goods production in urban areas and that new patterns of value creation will emerge. Another current trend in companies that is causing the reconfiguration of value creation is the phenomenon of hybridization. Companies are increasingly blurring the boundaries between production and services.Although all these phenomena have already been researched for several decades due to the high dynamics and the manifold potentials - also in the context of sustainability - there is, apart from terminological clarity, a particular lack of empirical data as well as an integrated analysis of the interactions between the processes on macro, meso and micro level according to Dopfer et al. (2004). This is where this study comes in with an integrated, holistic analysis and examines how urban economies at the meso level are transformed in the context of current megatrends at the macro level and to what extent urban contextual conditions are conducive to transformative paths in companies at the micro level in order to exploit the given opportunities of urban-compatible urban manufacturing. Urban manufacturing - in particular its design parameters, contextual characteristics and development prospects - was studied using a qualitative, inductive research approach. To analyze the trend-related changes in value creation and the challenges of change for companies, a deductive, quantitative company survey was conducted following the expert interviews. The results indicate that the value creation and corporate structures of urban manufacturing companies are undergoing a comprehensive transformation process in the course of current megatrends. Thus, urban manufacturing manifests itself in various forms that exhibit a high dynamic of change, which is mainly due to the constant change in the values and needs of customers and employees. Auspicious approaches to a change in the direction of hybridization could be identified with a vertical integration of activities in the value chain due to new options through digital production technologies as well as the embedding of the customer in the value creation process. The concepts of hybridization in companies have fluid boundaries and fuzzy classification options, which makes it difficult to draw distinctions between companies and different forms of hybridization. Based on the used concepts of hybrid service bundles, hybrid value creation and hybrid business models, an untapped potential with regard to hybridization was determined. Taking into account urban contextual conditions and further development of hybrid approaches, new opportunities and potentials arise for the manufacturing industry in urban environments.


  • Division of Earth Sciences and Geography [530000]
  • Chair of Economic Geography [551310]