Transdisciplinary Research on Work and Innovation: Co-Production of Knowledge on Contested Terrain

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 10:15 AM
Room: 415
Distributed Paper
Heike JACOBSEN , Brandenburg University, Germany
There is a long tradition of funding research to improve the organization of work according to the requirements of changing production processes and in accordance with the demands of the employees for not only damage-free but also personally and socially rewarding working situations in Germany. Background for this tradition is not at least the high relevance of qualified labour for the German diversified quality production. This research is crossed by two potential lines of conflict: First, scientists are asked to postpone or defer their academic logics in favour of contributing to immediately relevant knowledge production on-site. This line of conflict is widely acknowledged by concepts of inter- and trans disciplinary research (mode 2, triple helix, entrepreneurial university, techno science). A second line of conflict results from the social organisation of employment in capitalism. Constant re-arrangements by new ways of deploying labour and of relating work and organisations shape the forms of contradictions between interests or logics of action on both sides of the employment relationship. For this line of conflict the concepts of action research and, more recently, approaches to social innovation in the work place give useful instruments for analysis and methodologies. This paper examines how these two lines of conflict in trans disciplinary research are taken up in the research program on innovative work organisation of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. It further investigates which solutions are chosen in the funded joint projects to turn potential conflicts productively. Data are derived from a content analysis of programs and project reports. It is shown, that leaving these conflict-lines implicit rather than differentiating between diverse approaches to research in its context of application explicitly, weakens the potential of the projects’ work for stabilising the German production model and shifts balances from sociological towards micro-economic perspectives.