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Research Projects

Recursive Norm Building in the German Energy Transition. The Changing Energy Supply

The energy transition offers the potential to both break with traditional energy production and at the same time create new sociotechnical options. However, it remains to be seen if the energy transition will actually become reality. This would require both new technological infrastructures and economic models as well as a new normative order. The project focuses on three events of key importance to the energy transition: 1. The Renewable Energy Sources Act of 2000 and its amended versions; 2. The Fukushima nuclear disaster of 2011; 3. The digitalization of the energy sector since 2013. Using interviews and content and framing analyses, the project examines the development of norms within the area of energy transition, a field marked by discussions and coalitions involving heterogeneous stakeholders.

The project is part of three German Research Foundation projects, which jointly analyze recursive norm building in the energy transition. The project led by Professor Dr. Arnold Windeler (TU Berlin) examines norm building in the field of energy transition. Dr. Margrit Seckelmann (German Research Institute for Public Administration, Speyer) and her team focus on the recursive building of norms in law, while the project led by Professor Dr. Christina Besio (HSU Hamburg) researches recursive norm building within energy providers.

Funded by: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), Bonn

Period:  2021 - 2024

Award Holder:      Prof. Dr. Arnold Windeler

DFG-Graduate School "Innovation Society Today: The reflexive creation of novelty"

An inseparable part of modern society, innovation is currently acquiring new contours in its relation to society: Societies are becoming innovation societies, in which innovation is one of the main driving forces of change. Innovations in modern society are primarily (re-)produced in innovation fields, i.e. action fields which are constituted by the interactions between actors and which are based on specific, innovation-related topics (e.g. e-mobility or bank regulation). Such innovation fields often are located between and with- in different areas of society. Imparted through these innovation fields, new developments drive societies: as motifs for action (semantics of novelty), elements of routines (pragmatics of creative performance), and systematically (re-)produced social structures for generating novelty (grammar of innovative regimes).

The Graduate School thus addresses the following key question: How does the innovation society constitute its transformations reflexively as innovation? In order to answer this question we need to clarify how innovation and novelty are brought forth reflexively by a multitude of actors distributed in and across innovation fields. Practices, orientations, and processes will be the focus of study in selected innovation fields.

Funded by: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), Bonn

Period:  2012 - 2021

The graduate school's speaker: Prof. Dr. Arnold Windeler

Website: Graduate School "Innovation Society Today"

Entrepreneurial Group Dynamics

The research project aims to open up a novel perspective on business activity by systematically investigating the unfolding dynamics in entrepreneurial groups. During the collective action of founding a business, entrepreneurial individuals invest time, effort, support and_or money into their joint endeavor. In this process, the entrepreneurial group is constituted by assigning roles to each member and crafting social identity. The research project analyses how group composition and relationships play out over 

time and affect the continuous engagement of the group in entrepreneurial activity. A particular emphasis is set on ways such groups reinforce and eventually redefine their roles, on the group’s capability to be innovative, and finally, how entrepreneurial groups may decide to collectively exit from the business. The perspective of entrepreneurial group dynamics contributes to our understanding of the social embeddedness of entrepreneurship.

Freigeist-Fellowship, funded by VolkswagenStiftung, Hannover

Period: 2017 - 2021

Award Holder: Dr. Isabell Stamm

Website: Entrepreneurial Group Dynamics

New Consumption Practices and the Change of the Role of the Consumer

This project plans in a first step to work out a foundation for a historically informed, theoretically orientated conception of the role of the consumer. In the second step it will be examined in which degree this conception has to be adapted according to new consumption practices like making, prosuming, sharing in a more recent setting. This will offer the possibility to evaluate how substantial the traditional framing of the role of the consumer experiences change – whether it’s more superficial or more thorough. The aim is to create comprehensive hypotheses toward empirical testing. In a third step an empirical research will be conducted to confirm or reject these hypotheses as certain as possible. The fourth step is occupied with drawing conclusions concerning a contemporary adequate role model of the consumer. The final result shall be a solid basic theoretical guideline with explorative support for the current debate on a fitting ideal type of consumers from the point of view of consumer policy regarding the spread of new, highly engaged and proactive consumption practices.

The project will be realized in cooperation with the Institut für ökologische Wirtschaftsforschung (IÖW) in Berlin as a subcontractor for the empirical research part.

The project is founded by the Bundesanstalt für Landwirtschaft und Ernährung in Bonn.

Period: March 2018 till February 2019

Formal project supervisor: Prof. Dr. Arnold Windeler

Project employee: apl. Prof. Dr. Kai-Uwe Hellmann

DFG-Network: Sociological New Institutionalism and its idle potentials: theoretical challenges and empirical research perspectives

New Institutionalism (NI) is one of the most prominent theoretical approaches in interdisciplinary organizational research. Set out to tackle empirical problems, NI has been conducive to our understanding of organizations by and large. Currently, NI is dealing with three main topics (1): The conflicting relations between heterogeneous institutional logics, (2) the relevance of meso-level social orders, e.g. organizational fields, and (3) the micro-foundations of institutionalization processes and institutional change. However, besides a subsequent substantial broadening of this approach, NI’s focus on these issues has furthermore led to a loss in theoretical coherence. In this respect, we need to engage in a discussion about theoretical premises, not least to hedge the practical relevance of NI in a sustainable way. Therefore, the DFG-network aims at (i) analyzing current explanatory approaches in terms of their theoretical foundations, their deficits and their practical applications, (ii) exploring how concepts of NI contemporarily in use can be grounded in established social theories and (iii), based on the afore-mentioned aims, advancing NI’s concepts with regard to the micro, meso and macro levels of observation.

Funded by: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), Bonn

Period:  2014 - 2017

Award holder: Dr. Uli Meyer

Path-Creating Networks: Innovating Next Generation Lithography in Germany and the U.S.

The semiconductor industry faces the challenge of overcoming the physical and economic limitations of current production systems and the path dependency of established technologies by creating new technological paths. Various actors who, at the same time, compete in markets and between regions can only achieve this through collective and cooperative efforts. This study, sponsored by the Volkswagen-Stiftung, is set to identify and analyze potential paths, key actors, existing constellations and appropriate research methods with the aim of developing a comprehensive research project in this field.

Sponsor:          VolkswagenStiftung, Hannover
Period:             10/04 – 09/09 (pilot study: 08/03 - 11/03)
Award Holders:  Prof. Dr. Jörg Sydow, Prof. Dr. Arnold Windeler
Researcher:      Cornelius Schubert, MA, Dr. Guido Möllering

Evaluating and Monitoring the Development of the OpTecBB Network

This project aims at analyzing and assessing the development of inter-firm networks which have emerged from the network initiative “Optical Technologies Berlin-Brandenburg”(OpTecBB.de), funded by the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF). The data collected for this study will be used to promote the reflexive development of these networks.

Comissioned by: Senatsverwaltung für Wirtschaft, Arbeit und Frauen, Berlin
Period:               11/03 – 12/05
Award Holders:    Prof. Dr. Jörg Sydow, Prof. Dr. Arnold Windeler
Researcher:        Dipl.Kfm. Frank Lerch

Reflexive Projectification. The Constitution of Projects with Reference to Networks, Institutions and Paths

Reflexive projectification is a distinctive feature of current socialization. Projects are embedded reflexively in contexts with greater extent in time and space. This project develops a multi-level apprroach to analyse the recursive co-operation of projectivication and institutionalization, connected by networking.

Comissioned by:  Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), Bonn
Period:               03/05 – 07/05
Award Holder:      Prof. Dr. Arnold Windeler

Theories and Practices of Developing Competences in Network Structures

The development of individual competences is intertwined with the development of competences on multiple, intertwined systemic levels: organizations, inter-organizational networks, and organizational fields. The study looks at competence development from four socio-theoretical traditions: (1) resource theory, (2) modern system theory, (3) evolutionary and complexity theory and (4) structuration theory. The theoretical understanding is applied in in-depth case studies.

Comissioned by:   Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF), Bonn
Period:                 05/03-12/04
Award Holders:      Prof. Dr. Arnold Windeler; Prof. Dr. Jörg Sydow
Researcher:          Prof. Dr. Peter Kappelhoff, Universität Wuppertal;
Dr. Wil Martens, Universität Nimwegen und
Prof. Dr. Günther Ortmann, HSU Hamburg


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