The digitalisation of economic processes is accompanied by fundamental changes that affect the relationships between and strategies of enterprises, working conditions and employment, as well as innovation processes. In the research area People – Work – Knowledge, six research groups dealt with these effects of digitalisation on individuals and organisations.
In the working world, the new digital approaches to automation and networking as well as the use of artificial intelligence can be used on the one hand to eliminate stressful work activities, and to empower employees, but on the other hand also for increased standardisation and control of employees. At the same time, the new technologies also offer opportunities to strengthen self-determination in the digital economy, for example in the form of maker communities and labs, in which users are involved in the development and manufacture of products. What knowledge and competencies people will need in a digital world in the future was investigated. The reorganization of knowledge practices in general and the role of scientific value creation in these processes should also be reconsidered.
The research group investigated the impact of the digitalisation of work on employees in industry, logistics and services. It identified possibilities of different actors in enterprises to shape the conditions of work while also asked about the possibilities of their regulation through collective contracts or the law.
A potentially new path to strengthening social self-determination is currently emerging through hacker- and maker communities, in which citizens participate directly in the development and production of new technical artefacts. The democratisation of technology in a globally connected open-source network makes evident an increasing decentralisation of power structures and production, making possible the experimentation with new forms of collaboration – but under what conditions can this democratic potential unfold, and democracy for whom? A central question is therefore in which way these novel structures can provide an access to technologies on a base of diversity and inclusion.
Digital technologies and the internet influence all areas of life and place new demands on education and training. Our goal was to accompany, explore and formulate recommendations for the entire path of an individual as a knowledge carrier in the digital world. Related research focuses included relevant competencies, approaches to digital education in the classroom, possibilities for designing digital learning opportunities, avoiding devaluation and supporting the upgrading of vocational qualifications.
Digital technologies are increasingly permeating our daily routines and changing how we work, spend our free time and interact with each other. While proponents expect the spread of these technologies to have positive effects for both individuals and society, opponents fear risks such as information overload, dependencies and loss of privacy. In light of these controversies, the goal of our research group was to explore the long-term individual and societal consequences of using digital technologies.
This research group investigated how a reorganization of scientific practices along digital principles can contribute to individual and societal self-determination. The relations between science, the individual and society were studied along the themes “impact”, “interdisciplinarity” and “iteration”. Grounded in organization theory and with a focus on qualitative research methods, the research group reflected on new knowledge practices outside and inside the Weizenbaum Institute and developed actionable insights for policy making, business and civil society.