The Audi Chair of Social Economics & Sustainability analyzes the developmental relationship between culture and economics from a broad perspective of sustainability. Every culture has an economic basis, and this in turn is culturally influenced. Economic activity in France is different to that in Germany, leadership is different, qualification is different, and different goods are produced. Yet, also on a regional or organizational level cultural influences and differences play an important role. Departmental and organizational cultures that have developed over a long time make it possible to pursue certain innovation strategies, and make others more difficult.
Our central approach to studying such interchanges is to analyze the relationship between intentions and the resulting actions on all levels (individual actions, collective actions in corporations, non-profit organizations, and authorities, institutional players in region/state). Based on their respective cultural constitution, these players pursue strategies that in addition to the intended results also have unintended results or side-effects. Climate change is an example of the latter, and emission trading is an example of political responses that in turn have their own side-effects.
Our main interest is on how individual and institutional players develop their skills in problem solving and their ability to innovate. The criterion we apply to measure the most important precondition is reflexivity: the subjective or also institutionally rooted ability to observe one´s own presumptions and actions critically, and to learn from side-effects. Creativity is the criterion we use to evaluate the resulting new solutions. We agree with Schumpeter in that we understand entrepreneurial activity to be a creative element that again and again influences business processes in unforeseeable ways and that goes far beyond entrepreneurial functions in modern societies.
Sustainability is the all encompassing question, the horizon of our research and teaching. Our understanding of sustainability is polychrome, multifaceted. We are not only interested in the effects that economic activity has on the natural environment, and whether it is sustainable ("green sustainability"), but also whether it is good for humankind. And if yes or no, for whom and in which respect? Is it possible to live on one´s income? Is a particular economic practice good for social cohesion (social overhead capital, "red sustainability")? What are its effects on the relationships of trust within an organization or a municipality (symbolic capital, "yellow sustainability")? What does it contribute to the development or erosion of qualifications, needs for meaning, and social integration ("violet sustainability")?
Basically, these are the classical questions of philosophy: what is a good life? And how can a good society be achieved? In today´s world that is no longer based on the city states of old Greece we also have to ask systematically: Which effects do our forms of a good (or bad) life have on different parts of the world? Economic and social sciences must not ignore these questions of value, or delegate them to different disciplines.
When researching the mentioned topics we work at the same time in a theory- and an application-oriented way. The theory-orientation is responsible for a rigid explanatory claim and for the serious search for better explanations. The application-orientation is responsible for the confrontation between academic conceit and reality. Those who do both - and that at the same time in an antidisciplinary way - necessarily violate this or that expectation towards science and concepts of science. We love to violate.
Management research, operational modernization
- Innovation research
- Technology development and technical impacts
- Expertise research and organizational learning
- Psychological strain and stress research
- Work analysis and work structuring
- Cooperative networks
- Sustainability of work
- Theory and practice of consulting/intervention
- Sociology and psychology of science
- Reflexive modernization
- "Wand and Schlucht" Research