The changes in the world of work and the economy in our societies brought on by digitalisation entail both opportunities and risks for people’s self-determination. In the world of work, the new digital approaches to automation and networking as well as the use of artificial intelligence can be used, on the one hand, for eliminating burdensome work and empowering employees, and, on the other hand, for increased standardization and control of employees. The visions of the future of work are dominated by the image of a highly qualified workforce that effortlessly regulates complex cyber-physical systems. But how can this vision be realised and how do we prevent a large number of today’s employees from being excluded from this development?

A wholly new way of strengthening self-determination in the digital economy is opened up by maker communities and labs, in which users are involved in the development and manufacture of products. This culture facilitates the experimentation with new forms of cooperation and participation. It thus inspires the hope for new forms of economic activity involving the enhancement of individual self-determination. But under what conditions can such potentials of enhanced participation be fulfilled?

Innovation processes are changing rapidly in established industries. For example, the development of the sharing economy calls into question established forms of economic activity. Such business model innovations require radical changes, especially from established companies. How can companies manage these changes? What impact do these innovation processes have on existing industrial structures, value chains and, not least, on employment?

This research area will be developed at the Institute within the framework of three research groups, dedicated to the following topics:

Based on the activity of these research groups, systematic cross-sectoral and cross-country comparative research will be developed in order to analyse the upheavals associated with digitalization in the world of work and the realm of business models. Basic research will be combined with the development of indicators for the digitization of work, business and innovation, which are relevant for the scientific world and instrumental for policy advice. The long-term research agenda focuses on comprehensive monitoring activities of the digitalisation of work and business based on publicly accessible data sets and publications, for instance.