Carola Rebecca Wilhelm

Carola Wilhelm

Department Geographie und Geowissenschaften
Institut für Geographie

Raum: Raum 02.167
Wetterkreuz 15
91058 Erlangen

Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin in der Arbeitsgruppe Regionalentwicklung von Prof. Dr. Tobias Chilla.

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Curriculum Vitae


Seit 2020  Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin am Institut für Geographie

2020 Projektmitarbeiterin in der Geschäftsstelle der Metropolregion Nürnberg (Modellvorhaben der Raumordnung: Lebendige Regionen, MORO)

2018 Auslandssemester Stockholms Universitet, Schweden

2017-2020 Studium des European Master in Territorial Development, Leibniz-Universität Hannover

2013-2017 Studium der Kulturgeographie, B.A. Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg


Weitere praktische Erfahrungen:

2019: Praktikantin/ Werkstudentin CIMA Beratung + Management GmbH

2018 Werkstudentin SHP Ingenieure

2016-2017 Praktikantin Amt für Statistik und Stadtforschung der Landeshauptstadt Wiesbaden


Birnbaum, L.; Wilhelm, C.; Chilla, T.; Kröner, S. (2021): Place attachment and digitalisation in rural regions. In: Journal of Rural Studies 87, S. 189–198.

Bertram, D.; Chilla, T.; Wilhelm, C. (2021): Short Value Chains in Food Production: The Role of Spatial Proximity for Economic and Land Use Dynamics. Land 10 (979). Online:

Ehlers, A.; Wilhelm, C.; Vreda, D. (2019): Make Exarcheia’s Housing Affordable Again. In: Othengrafen, F.; Serraos, K. (Eds.): Urban Resilience, Changing Economy and Social Trends. Coping with socio-economic consequences of the crisis in Athens, Greece. Hannover : Leibniz Universität Hannover, Institut für Umweltplanung, 2019, S. 121-134. Online:


Forschungsfokus auf nachhaltiger Regionalentwicklung ländlicher Räume, insbesondere regionale Wertschöpfung und Digitalisierung



BMBF: „ReProLa: Regionalproduktspezifisches Landmanagement in Stadt-Land-Partnerschaften am Beispiel der Europäischen Metropolregion Nürnberg“ (2018-2023)

BLE: „HeiDi – Heimat digital. Digitale Formen der Heimatbindung“  (2020-2023)


Weitere Kleinprojekte:

  • StMELF: „Studie zur regionalen Wertschöpfung von Streuobstprodukten in Bayern“ (2021)
  • LKR Hassberge: „Absolventenbefragung“ (2022, laufend)



Proximity in short food supply chains and power relations – How economic governance shapes regional food production

Referring to the debate on Global Value Chains (GVC) and Global Production Networks (GPN), the present doctoral project examines how governance mechanisms and spatial distance affect the economic dynamics of value chains of food products. Using a mixed-method approach, the principal aim is to examine the flows of value creation (value chain analysis, VCA) in short food supply chains (SFSC). The VCA approach is complemented with a economic network analysis of the respective sectors. Combining these approaches, the thesis aims to identify the mechanisms, which shape and influence the economic dynamics of orchard and bread products in Bavarian regions, including cultivation, production and trade.

Local food systems have recently received rising interest due to their potential of securing sustainable and transparent consumption, and of contributing to food sovereignty. Conceptually, SFSC highlight the potential of spatial proximity. Indeed, case studies showed how proximity can promote economic dynamics and competitiveness in land use but highlighted the need of additional analysis of personal/ economic relationships. While governance patterns have not been conceptualised within SFSC, these case studies suggest power asymmetries and the need to analyse governance pattern along SFSC.

Meanwhile, governance was conceptualised extensively in global production processes and value creation. Economists’ GVC framework targets inter-firm relationships focussing on how lead firms use their power in internalisation/ externalisation strategies, and derive detailed typologies of governance. By contrast, economic geographers’ GPN framework has a sector-based perspective on networks of firm and non-firm stakeholders, and ensuing spatial (a)symmetries. Although some GVC/ GPN approaches target the local scale, it is largely referred to as cluster within global processes. Therefore, they focus on adaptive strategies (upgrading) and strategic coupling, or embeddedness.

Against this background, the analytical focus lies on processes of value creation of region specific food by adjusting the GPN framework for a local comparative case study design. In doing so, the nexus of proximity and power in economic flows and governance settings is the key concern. Hence, the analysis combines governance and spatial variables to understand local potentials of value creation to provide answers for the following central research question:How is power organised spatially in SFSC and how do these governance patterns affect the respective economic dynamics of food production in peripheral regions?

On the conceptual level, the main question is which governance mechanisms shape value creation at the local level and how can they be conceptualised? Second, how does proximity shape these governance patterns as opposed to the acknowledged global scale concepts? Finally, how can SFSC governance knowledge be used to strengthen the local perspective within the GVC/ GPN debate?

Furthermore, the thesis aims to derive practical implications for the specific case studies, and thus raises the question which lessons can small economic operators learn for the value creation within these particular SFSC?

The analysis is based on a comparative case study design. The cases studies are orchard fruit and rye bread (both in parts of Bavaria). Both products are of high regional and cultural relevance, but face declining economic trends in terms of income stability and involved operators. Next, a high degree of stakeholder organisation in both contexts achieved a political concern to promote the future of these sectors. However, they bear some differences such as the complexity of the value chain. Additionally, as regards the economic market relevance, orchard fruit products are rather niche products (with mainly indirect economic effects) whereas bread as an everyday product generates higher overall returns. Second, the decline of orchard products is due to a steady loss of agricultural area while in the case of bread the economic decline mainly happens at the manufacturing stage.

The analysis bases on a mixed methods approachFirst, VCA targets value creation by a top-down perspective, by regionalising data of value creation on the district level. Second, a firm-specific network analysis (SNA) is the basis to operationalise power and proximity bottom-up. Both approaches merge at the sector-level to summarise on the role of governance and distance in SFSC economic development.   Therefore, the analysis bases on using official statistics, sector reports and extensive sets of primary data (interviews, online surveys).