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Department of Social Sciences

Industry and Labor Research

The research field of industry and labor research is concerned with the preconditions and consequences of innovation and rationalization strategies of companies in their connection with societal structural changes in a social science orientation. The central focus here is on the development trends of industrial work in the context of digitalization and Industry 4.0. This development refers in particular to the currently much-discussed technological advances in the field of information and computer and automation technology, which are increasingly finding their way into industrial value creation. It is expected that the Internet-based networking of both company and inter-company processes will trigger far-reaching rationalization effects in production, logistics and work organization, and that business models and sales markets will undergo lasting change.

With regard to the consequences for industrial work processes through digitalization, the research area focuses on changes and development trends at both the company and inter-company level. The focus here is on the topics of work organization, qualification, participation, and the dissolution of boundaries and networking.

The scientific research work focuses on the following main topics:

  • Reorganization of value chains
  • Changes and perspectives of the type of work called "simple work
  • Change of forms of operational control
  • Qualification and competence development
  • Forms of individual and collective representation of interests

The structural differences and special features of different types of companies and industries in dealing with digitization will also be addressed.

From a conceptual point of view, the research area of industrial and labor research pursues a socio-technical understanding of
of innovation, work and value creation. This means that a deterministic relationship between technological development and the consequences for work and production is not assumed.
technological development and the consequences for work and production. Rather, it is a complex relationship between influencing factors and structural conditions. Technological innovations such as cyber-physical production systems, robots, Big Data applications or assistance systems, which are imminent with Industry 4.0, also require an analysis that systematically takes into account the interaction of the new technology with the personnel and organizational changes induced by it.

The research field is assigned to research area 1 "Work and Organization in Socio-Digital Change" and is coordinated by Dr. Peter Ittermann. The former head of the research field, Prof. em. Dr. Hartmut Hirsch-Kreinsen, continues to work in the research field as a Research Fellow.