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Capital cities: embracing the change and tapping into opportunities


The third seminar of the RSA Research Network “The impact of global economic crisis on capital cities” will continue the discussions started at our previous two seminars in Warsaw (2011) and Kyiv (2012). It will look at how capital cities have embraced the opportunities brought by changes in socioeconomic framework. It is 5 years since last global economic crisis has started and there is some evidence on how it is affecting countries and cities. The seminar will be held in Latvia and will provide an excellent platform to discuss the main actors and tools at hands of European Capital cities to stabilise their economy and advance their development.

The role of capital cities has been recognized and discussed at EU level. On February 2013, the EU Commissioner for Regional Policy  Johannes Hahh in meeting mayors of capital  cities called for more actions as “Capital cities are where Europe's economic and social problems are often most concentrated and most visible. But they are also the powerhouses of Europe - where the most important solutions can be found: in the fields of competitiveness, employment, education, transport, environment and innovation. This makes them crucial in lifting Europe out of crisis. Without Europe's capital cities we cannot make the Europe2020 Growth Agenda a reality."

During the previous seminar in Kyiv it was concluded that there is one common feature that characterises more successful scenarios of crisis mitigation by capital cities: the more autonomy cities have to respond to negative economic and social trends, the more influence they have over generating income and allocating resources, the more flexible and thus more efficient their policies are and their outcomes are more significant.

Purpose of the seminar and core questions

This RSA Research Network Seminar will address the discussion on the different approaches used by capital cities in dealing with socioeconomic changes in Europe. In particular the seminar will contribute to four core questions:

>> Cities unlocking new opportunities – sectors, markets, niches, people.
>> Passive followers (path-dependants) and proactive creators (trend-setters) in the time of changes.
>> The importance of innovation for modern day success of capital city in delivering services, engaging with community, satisfying ever-changing needs and gaining new markets.
>> Networking and internationalization – going global as a fashion or necessity.

Discussion areas

Are there any signs of creative destruction? What are examples of passive reaction to the crisis or proactive initiatives that aim to eliminate weaknesses and build new strengths? Are there capital cities that are doing better than pre-2008? What are new patterns in city economy, welfare and spatial planning that open the way for the 21st century success? Can capital city remain or become successful without string innovative component in its economy? What examples of innovations in public and private sectors that reshape city landscapes? Networking capitals – is it crucial to be connected with likeminded cities across the globe? What is the importance of involvement of capital cities in international cooperation and different networks? Can international networking enhance city’s competitiveness? What are the examples from European programmes and initiatives and global networks?

Seminar participants are invited to present papers contributing to the above mentioned core questions and discussion areas. Presentations on other topics related to the impact of the global economic crisis on capital cities are also welcome.

Structure of the seminar

The seminar will formally begin on the morning of Friday, 13th December 2013, with an opening session and a comprehensive insight into topics of each thematic session will be presented by four keynote speakers.

Two thematic sessions will take place in parallel and will be chaired by appointed experts.

There will be several informal networking opportunities offered:
>> informal get together dinner on Thursday evening, 12th December;
>> coffee breaks and lunch breaks during the seminar on Friday, 13th December;
>> Farewell reception on Friday afternoon, 13th December;

Preliminary programme [download]

Working language

The working language of the seminar is English.

Abstract requirements and application process

Abstracts in English of up to 2500 characters should be submitted before 25th November 2013 to Olga Mrinska at  omrinska@gmail.com.

If you would like to take part in the seminar without presentation you can register up till 2nd December 2013 – please write to Liga Baltina at baltina.lu@gmail.com.

Requirements for submitting the abstracts:
>> Text font: Times New Roman, 12 pt
>> Alignment: heading centred, main text justified
>> Line spacing: single

Structure of the heading is following:
>> Tittle of the paper
>> Name, Surname
>> Tittle of the University
>> E-mail address
>> Keywords: not more than 5 keywords

Participant will receive acknowledgement about the acceptance of the abstract no later than 2nd December 2013.

Fee & Bursaries

Registration fee is 20 Euro payable either via bank transfer (see details below) or in cash upon arrival.

Bank details for registration fee transfer:

Beneficiary: Latvijas Eiropas Kopienu Studiju Asociācija  (Latvian European Community Studies Association)
Registration  Number:  4 000 80 55 276
Bank: Swedbank
Account number: LV27HABA0551000096822

Thanks to financial support from the Regional Studies Association, we will be able to offer several travel bursaries to RSA members only (up to 150 EUR per person). Priority will be given to graduate and postgraduate students, young researchers (up to 30 years old) and participants who experience acute financial difficulties.

The bursary can cover travel and accommodation costs. Applicants are encouraged to minimise their costs by using economy fares, budget transport modes, sharing accommodation and booking economy hotels/hostels. Bursaries will be offered on a first come, first serve basis. RSA individual membership is a precondition for receiving the bursary.


Local organiser’s contact person:

Liga Baltina
European Centre for Economic and Transition Studies, University of Latvia
Raiņa boulevard 19
Rīga, LV-1586
+371 29167300

Network co-organiser:

Olga Mrinska
Postal address:
2 The Moors
Welwyn Garden City
Hertfordshire, AL7 1QR, UK
tel.: +447825084440



EUROREG, University of Warsaw, Poland

Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence, University of Latvia

Baltic Interregional Development hub, Latvia

Information about the Research Network

The RSA Research Network “The impact of global economic crisis on capital cities” is looking at various cases of how capital cities have reacted in the wake of global economic crisis, at different dimensions of mitigating the consequences of this crisis, and whether and how they have changed through the crisis: government policies, business adjustments, social and human innovations, perceptions and brands of the cities. The Network’s findings will not only enrich empirical research but will also be useful for more practical areas such as developing and implementing central and local-level policies aimed at improving the competitiveness and resilience of city economies at different stages of the economic cycle.

The Network is a virtual marketplace for the exchange of ideas, news, projects, information on publications and events. It is open to all researchers and practitioners, young and old, from across the globe, who are interested in the development of capital cities, globalisation, the recent global economic crisis and its impact on cities’ economies, welfare, society, and environment. Along with regular virtual communications, the Research Network has organised two seminars: in Warsaw on 23 September 2011 and in Kyiv on 26 October 2012.

The research network receives financial support from the Regional Studies Association.

Please visit the network blog at http://capitalcitiesaftercrisis.blogspot.com or write to the network organisers for further details:
Dr Olga Mrinska, Policy Consultant, EBRD, London, UK: omrinska@gmail.com
Dr. Maciej Smetkowski, EUROREG, University of Warsaw, Poland: