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Current Research Projects

 

 


 

Financial Markets and Company Innovation Strategies (FINN)

The innovation strategies of companies are often characterized by high risks and uncertainty regarding their economic and technical success. They normally require high investments that - if at all - yield returns only in a long-term perspective. The relation between the requirements for and the course of technical innovations on the one hand, and the financing arrangements on the other hand, will be the focus of the FINN project in the next three years. The importance of this issue has been highlighted by the recent financial crisis and the tightened institutional guidelines for bank lending.

The starting hypothesis of the project is that there is a strong correlation between the course of innovation projects and their financing conditions. The research will focus on the analysis of specific interaction patterns between the financial market segments and innovation strategies. The structure and dynamics of these different innovation-constellations will be determined empirically and used as a basis for further conceptual considerations. In order to realize a broad perspective, the Finn Project is carried out by an interdisciplinary consortium of sociologists (TU Dortmund, Prof. Hirsch-Kreinsen) and business economists (Prof. Andreas Hack, University of Bern). It is funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).

The aim of the project is to conduct a detailed study of the interrelation of two crucial factors which determine the dynamics of developed economies: financing and innovation. The relation between the structure and regulation of financing systems and their influence on innovation strategies is highly relevant for a country such as Germany with its strong focus on research and innovation.

 

Duration:

October 2012 until September 2015

Funding:

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)

Contact Persons:

Prof. Dr. Hartmut Hirsch-Kreinsen, Dr. Katrin Hahn, Dipl.-Math. Tatjana Mansouri

 

Project Homepage

 


 

New Forms of Industrial Work – Challenges and Consequences of new Production Systems

 

Starting Point:

The German industry is facing new challenges – e.g. because of the globalization, a rising cost-competition, or shorter life-cycles and the rising number of customer-specific products. This forces companies to optimize their processes permanently. Besides product-innovations, process-innovations are needed to find solutions for cost-pressure, quality standards, the demand on flexibility and being adaptable as well as finding innovative capability.

With the discussion about comprehensive production system (CPS), operational reorganization processes got a new thrust. Companies try to convert existing and new modernizing-elements in an overall concept, which should avoid the problems of the previous standalone solution. With CPS the outlined challenges of the German industrial companies should be coped.

Against the backdrop of these facts, the project “New Forms of industrial work” is focused on a deeper qualitative analysis of conditions, introductory processes and job sequences of these concepts, in view of the rising spreading of comprehensive production systems. It is assumed, that – with the introduction of these concepts – the operational reorganization processes is going to get a new thrust. With view from a labour- and industrial sociological perspective, it can be clarified as a new rationalizing-paradigm.

Objectives:

During the last years the socio-scientific labour-research presented only a very little number of well-founded results about the development of industrial work. In particular, this research had missed to ask, how far the introduction of comprehensive production systems is standing for a fundamental conception-change of rationalization of production- and labour-processes. Based on this, the project pursues three targets.

(1) The empirical-analytical target is focused on qualitative analyses of the conditions, introductory processes, and job sequences of the introduction of CPS.

(2) The labour-political target should find answers to the question for the consequences of the CPS-introduction for the operational interest constellation between management and employee representation.

(3) The paramount conceptional target is pointed at an empirical-based contribution for the socio-scientific discussion about labour-development. This has to deal with the question of the change of industrial labor, in particular. It is said that with the introduction of CPS a fundamental conceptional-change of labor is implied.

Methodology

The methodical procedure is oriented by the base of qualitative social research based on case studies and additional expert discussions:

(1) Guided interviews with experts from associations or science help to get through the extermination field as well as to complete the collected information during other project phases.

(2) The research questions can only be answered in an empirical appropriate way due to qualitative case studies to sufficiently analyze the different operational situations and its complex requirement structures. The core of an empirical work is built by qualitative case studies of companies with an advanced state of or experience with CPS. In general production as well as employee related aspects are taken in account.

 

Duration:

May 2012 until March 2014

Funding:

Hans-Böckler-Stiftung (HBS)

Project coordination:

TU Dortmund, Chair of Production Systems and Industrial Engineering

Contact Persons:

Prof. Dr. Hartmut Hirsch-Kreinsen, Dr. Jörg Abel, Dr. Peter Ittermann

 

Project Homepage

 


 

WAMOPRO: Mutability due to Modular Production Systems

 

A variety of already established transformation motivators, like new technology developments or unsteady production quantities, affect industrial production systems. The optimization of production systems towards variable and not predictable requirements will be decisive for the success of industrial companies. The aim of the research project WamoPro is a fast and economic design of the optimization process for the companies. Depending on the point of view, both production islands and the total factory can be examined.

By now, increased flexibility of production systems is achieved by assembly based modularization of components according to modular design principles: Variants of powertrain, tool, and workpiece adding modules will be kept in store and assembled into a production system corresponding to the current requirements.

The approach of the research project WamoPro is based on this fundamental idea of technical modularization. In contrast to a mere modularization of technical units, the project also focuses on the areas of organization and staff. This leads to a complete modularization of the production system, instead of only achieving technological flexibility. By observing cost-benefit-aspects, adaptable and modular production systems will be configured and integrated into a company’s overall system.

 

Duration:

September 2010 until August 2013

Funding:

Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Project coordination:

The Project Management Agency Karlsruhe (PTKA)

Contact Persons:

Prof. Dr. Hartmut Hirsch-KreinsenDipl.-Ök. Tobias Wienzek

 

Project Homepage

 


 

AEGIS: Advancing Knowledge-Intensive Entrepreneurship and Innovation for Economic Growth and Social Wellbeing in Europe

 

The research project studies the interactions between knowledge, economic growth and social wellbeing in Europe. It focuses on knowledge-intensive entrepreneurship as a necessary mechanism and an agent of change mediating between the creation of knowledge and its transformation into economic activity. Knowledge-intensive entrepreneurship (KIE) is perceived herein as a core interface between two interdependent systems: the knowledge generation and diffusion system, on the one hand, and the productive system, on the other. Both systems shape and are shaped by the broader social context – including customs, culture, and institutions – thus also pointing at the linkage of entrepreneurship to that context.

The project has three main objectives (research thrusts). At the micro level, it purports to study in depth the very act of knowledge-intensive entrepreneurship, its defining characteristics, boundaries, scope and incentives. At the macro level, it will study the link between knowledge entrepreneurship, economic growth and social wellbeing, also extending to the socio-economic processes that help transform the “animal spirits” (John Maynard Keynes) into a self-reinforcing process for broader societal prosperity. The way the broader socio-economic environment stokes “animal spirits” and benefits from them will be studied within the contexts of various shades of capitalism in Europe and elsewhere, expanding beyond the growth accounting and endogenous growth approaches and issues to novel concepts of knowledge-intensive entrepreneurship in growth and, further, into the underlying issues of social wellbeing such as inclusion, cohesion, equity, opportunities, and social care. Finally, at the policy level, the project will take a systemic approach aiming at an organic integration of diverse sets of policies that influence the creation and growth of innovative entrepreneurial ventures based on knowledge generation and diffusion. A core aim is to translate the analytical findings into diagnostics tool for country and sector specific assessment of KIE and into concrete, operational policy recommendations, by taking into account the idiosyncracies of different national/regional and sectoral systems of innovation that have emerged within the member states of the European Union.

The international joint research project is funded as a large scale project by the EU under the Seventh Framework Programme and has a term of 3 years. All in all 21 partners from social and economic sciences are involved in the project. The Chair of Economic and Industrial Sociology explores empirically and conceptually the question the role of knowledge-intensive entrepreneurship in traditional low-tech industrial sectors. In doing so, particular attention is paid to the question to which extent new knowledge and new technologies can contribute to securing the economic competitiveness of enterprises from traditional sectors.

 

Duration:

January 2009 until December 2011

Funding:

EC Framework Programme 7, Theme 8: Socio-Economic Sciences and Humanities

Scientific project coordination:

Università Bocconi/Milano, CESPRI (Center for Research on Innovation and Internationalization)

Contact Persons:

Prof. Dr. Hartmut Hirsch-Kreinsen, Isabel Schwinge, M.A.

 

Project Homepage

 


 

Innovation Management for Low-Tech/High-Tech Co-operations - Low2High

 

The project analyses the management of innovation co-operations between so-called low-tech and high-tech enterprises - an aspect which has so far largely gone unheeded. Low-tech companies spend relatively little on own research and development activities while the R&D expenditure of high-tech companies is significantly higher. Typical low-tech enterprises are metalworking companies and/or automotive suppliers. The high-tech enterprises with which the low-tech enterprises co-operate can  be customers and different kinds of suppliers as well as technology outfitters. The specific focus of this analysis is on the barriers and obstacles that can hamper co-operation relations between low-tech and high-tech enterprises. Furthermore, the project examines which approaches for the improvement and optimisation of co-operation relations already exist and whether there is a need for the methodical development of new approaches. On the basis of the findings of the analyses of innovation co-operations, the project is going to conceive and test suitable tools and methods to overcome the specific barriers of low-tech/high-tech co-operations. In doing so, the focus is in particular on the specific innovation requirements of low-tech SMEs. This concerns both process and product innovations.

Generally speaking, the project aims at expanding established approaches, methods and processes of innovation management to the particular innovation situation of low-tech SMEs with regard to their co-operation relations with high-tech companies. Thus it is the project´s objective to bridge the gap between the geneneral research on innovation co-operations and the low-tech/high-tech debate and to make the findings profitable from  both an innovation policy and business practice  point of view.

In addition to the Chair for Ecoconomic and Industrial Sociology, two other research institutions, four manufacturing companies as well as three transfer partners are taking part in this project. The project is co-ordinated by the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovations Research, Karlsruhe (FhG ISI, Competence Center Industrial and Service Innovations).

 

Duration:

May 2008 until April 2011

Funding:

Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF; PT-DLR), Research programme „Innovation Strategies beyond Traditional Management“

Project Co-ordination and Contact Persons:

Prof. Dr. Hartmut Hirsch-Kreinsen, Dipl.-Ök. Tobias Wienzek

 

Project Homepage

 


 

Conditions and Development Perspectives of “Simple“ Industrial Labour

 

Since spring 2008, the German Research Foundation (DFG) has been funding a research project that delves into the development perspectives of simple industrial labour in Germany.  The term simple labour features activities which are of low complexity, make little demands on the employees and require only limited qualifications. In the mainstream of research and public debate, it has for some time been argued that this type of labour is becoming increasingly insignificant for the development of gainful employment in Germany in view of the competitive pressures of globalisation and generally rising qualification and knowledge requirements. Solely the service sector still features simple work on a larger scale. However, on the basis of first empirical impressions, this project plans to test the thesis that under specific conditions simple labour represents a stable development perspective for industrial work too.

The research project is based on a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods. The qualitative methods comprise case studies in enterprises from different sectors and expert interviews. The quantative analysis resorts to available statistical data records. The project´s objective is to develop an empirically founded and differentiated contribution to the debate on the economic structural change and the development trends of industrial work. In particular, the empirical analysis will endeavour to show whether and to which extent simple labour occurs and in which sectors, industries, enterprise sizes and possibly regions it takes place. As far as possible, an international comparative perspective will be adopted. Furthermore, the project also has a labour market policy dimension: In a nutshell: The issue at stake are the future chances of low-skilled labour in a high-skill and high-tech country such as Germany.

 

Duration:

May 2008 until April 2011

Funding:

German Research Foundation (DFG)

Project Co-ordination and Contact Persons:

Dr. Jörg Abel, Dr. Peter Ittermann

 

Project Homepage

 



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Contact

Prof. Dr. Hartmut Hirsch-Kreinsen
Tel.: 0231 755-3718