• Tallinn, Estonia


WORKLOAD: full time (40 hours a week)


EMPLOYMENT PERIOD: 01.12.2020 (earliest) – 30.11.2022 (2 years)


Ragnar Nurkse Department of Innovation and Governance is opening up to 2 post-doc positionsin the broad research area of Governance of Smart Cities. The prospective post-docs are requested to propose their own more specific research projects that will support the development of the Finest Twins Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Smart Cities, the first smart city CoE globally focusing on the development of cross-border, sustainable and resilient smart city models and solutions. The post-doc project should focus on theoretical, critical, empirical or action research that contributes to the establishment of smart, resilient and sustainable cities worldwide. 


Smart city governance research and practice is evolving from the original techno-centrism towards encompassing broader notions of public value, citizen participation, resilience and sustainability. The parallel evolution of global technological opportunities and new forms of more localized social interactions and dynamics poses complex governance challenges and opportunities. These range from developing technical, legal, data and institutional capacities for utilizing traditional smart city solutions to building new governance platforms for smart (enough) cities that achieve sustainable and resilient integration of technological and social processes. 

There are five key inter-related themes in smart city research that we are interested and we believe will crucially structure smart city developments in the coming decade:

1. Innovation capacities of smart cities: How can cities become “smart” in the sense of supporting both technological innovation and diffusion as well as economic development of local communities as part of smart city initiatives? What kind of policies and governance models should underpin this? Can we envision alternative policy and governance models for the existing “best practices”?

2. Sustainability of smart cities: How can cities become “smart enough” in the sense of sustainable development, including goals of climate neutrality, environmental and technological self-sufficiency and resilience? What kind of models of technology governance (e.g. open-source) are best fitted for these goals? How to measure the “smart sustainability” or “smart resilience” of cities and what kind of policies and governance models should underpin them? 

3. People-centric and inclusive smart cities: How can cities become “smart” in the sense of providing functional cross-sectoral and cross-border platforms for public policy and service co-creation and co-production as the basis for legitimacy, people-centredness and happiness? What kind of governance models are required for people-centric and inclusive smart cities? Can we envision alternative governance models for the existing “best practices”?

4. Data governance in smart cities: How should cities develop capacities and processes for using data within municipal departments and for, regional, state-level and international cross-border collaborations? How can “twin smart cities” provide services to citizens residing in the neighbouring city? How can the interoperability challenges be mastered that cross-border exchange of data poses, how can an ecosystem be provided that enables the City as a Platform? Which drivers can be identified to accelerate and which barriers need to be overcome to foster cross-border smart city services? Which are the needs of the stakeholders when providing services cross-border?

5. Beyond the Smart City: How can cities sustainably collaborate with each other and/or integrate with their surroundings, nationally as well as cross-border?  What are the potential alternatiive models for regional and international cross-border collaborations (i.e. between Tallinn and Helsinki) and beyond (e.g. Tallinn-Helsinki and Singapore)? How do the ideological and ethical differences between regions and places affect Smart City developmets and integration/collaboration? Is “more” always “better”, or can we consider, for the post-Covid19 world, “smart-enough” approaches as being more effective, legitimate, sustainable and resilient? 

The prospective post-docs are encouraged to provide their original theoretical, empirical or action research projects that tackle one or several of these challenges.

The team of potential supervisors:

Prof Wolfgang Drechsler, Prof Vasilis Kostakis, Prof Erkki Karo, Dr Veiko Lember, Dr Ralf-Martin Soe


During the research, the post-docs should develop and implement in cooperation with supervisors the research plan that should also be in-line and contribute to the strategic research direction of the Nurkse Department and the Finest Twins Smart City CoE. As part of the project, the post-docs are also expected to gain teaching, supervision and research management experiences at the Nurkse Department and the Smart City CoE.

Additional information:

For further information, please contact Prof Erkki Karo ([email protected]) or visit http://taltech.ee/nurkse and http://www.finesttwins.eu


A successful candidate should preferably have: 

– a PhD degree in social sciences (preferably in public administration, political science or economics) or in other areas with additional proof of social science research skills;

– a clear interest and own vision for independent research in the topic of the position;

– excellent command of English;

– proven research experience;

– capacity to work both as an independent researcher and as part of an international team;

– capacity and willingness to provide assistance in organizational tasks relevant to the project.

We offer:

– 2-year funded post-doc position in one of the largest, most internationalized and leading social science research centers in Estonia with a large portfolio of ongoing pan-European and national public administration, digital governance and innovation studies projects;

– Involvement in R&I activities with founding partners of the Smart City CoE and also other key stakeholders (e.g. cities). 

– The chance to do high-level research in one of the most dynamic digital government contexts globally;

– Opportunities for conference visits, research stays and networking with globally leading universities and research centers in the fields of public administration, innovation studies, digital government and smart cities;

– The gross salary – depending on previous experiences and qualifications – starting from €2,000 and full health and social insurance. The position will be financed by the European Commission’s H2020 grant (grant no 85602 funding the establishments of the Smart City CoE).


To apply for this job please send the following documents (in English) by 1 November 2020 at the latest (the application deadline) to professor Erkki Karo:

– a letter of motivation;

– a brief proposal/outline of a research plan;

– a curriculum vitae;

– two key recent academic publications;

– preferably two recommendation letters.