Research priorities

Under the umbrella of the professorship, questions of work, technology, organization and globalization are generally addressed along four thematic focal points:

  • Digitization of work and organisation
    Work forms and organisational structures are changing in response to the increasing penetration of information technology in all areas of life, in particular the digitization of work and the economy. Examples include work in Industry 4. 0 or forms of work in the “sharing economy” or in general forms of platform-based and platform-mediated work. Analyzing the variants and effects of these developments from a work and organizational sociological perspective, showing effects and solutions for a human-centered design, is part of this research strand at the professorship.
  • Transnationalisation and internationalisation of work and organisations
    The focus of the “Transnationalisation” priority is on the social phenomena of economic globalisation and related social practices and forms of organisation. These include internationalisation strategies of multinational companies, the emergence of transnational labour markets and social movements dealing with the undesirable consequences of globalisation in social and socio-political terms. One aim of the work in this field is to develop a theoretical foundation for research on transnational advocacy that incorporates both work and organizational sociological approaches and combines them in an innovative way (Hauser-Ditz et al. 2010/2015; Hertwig 2016 – see Publications).
  • Labour market, personnel and precariousness
    In the third area “Labour Market, Personnel and Precarization”, corporate strategies in the area of company personnel management and the resulting consequences for the employment system are thematized. Forms of a “cooperative human resources management” (Hertwig/Kirsch 2013, Hertwig/Kirsch 2015 – see publications) that involve inter-company networking, but also issues of “precarization” as a consequence of company strategies to increase flexibility and reduce costs. An example here is the importance of the recently strongly discussed work contract work (Hertwig/Kirsch/Wirth 2015 – see Publications).
  • Company interests regulation
    The fourth topic looks at changes in company labour relations and new forms of representation that may reflect changed corporate strategies or employee attitudes (Hertwig 2011). Other topics include “Union Busting” or conflicts over co-determination (Thünken et al. 2021; Hertwig et al. 2021) and approaches to advocacy and collective action in the digital economy (for example YouTube: Hertwig/Witzak 2021, or for Amazon Mechanical Turk: Hertwig et al. 2020).

Some of the priorities outlined above are compared internationally. This applies, for example, to the question of the role of contract work in different countries of the European Union (and beyond); questions about the internationalization strategies of multinational corporations and cross-border representation of interests also imply an internationally comparative perspective.