Post/Doc Lab Reorganizing Industries

Industry, Technology and Society: Consequences of the Digital Transformation.

Industries are undergoing large scale transformations due to the opportunities and challenges presented by a new wave of digitalization. Examples include the introduction of cyber-physical systems, the increased self-organization of machines on platforms like the Internet of Things, and emerging ecologies of distributed innovation and digital fabrication. The central assumption of this working group is that these phenomena fundamentally shape and are shaped by contemporary organization(s), indicating a new quality of technologization in society. We investigate the reorganization of industries in three, partially overlapping areas:

In Models of Reorganization we are analyzing the orienting quality of models in digitalized industries (such as “Industrie 4.0”) and their implication for the organization of industrial production. We emphasise the material configuration and performativity of these models.

In industrialization of the living we are focusing on how bodies and body-parts are made (to) fit. We study how they are re/produced, surveilled and commodified in digitalized industries and what kinds of material and embodied forms of resistance emerge. We examine how the introduction of 3D (bio-)printing and automation are connected to the reorganization of regenerative biomedicine and the prosthetics industry, as well as the impact of self-tracking technologies on the entanglement of work, life and organization.

In configurations of digital innovation we are analyzing the emergence of new forms of distributed or “open” innovation and interrogate how they bring forward new constellations of actors. Here, our focus lies on the question of how these new forms of innovation are organized and scripted.

HeadDr. Uli Meyer
TeamJohan Buchholz  
Dr. Carlos Cuevas Garcia
Tobias Drewlani
Cansu Guner-Birdal
Dr. Katrin Hahn
Dr. Judith Igelsböck
Lisa Meinecke
David Seibt
Elena Zelesniack

Dr. ginger coons
Assoc. Prof. Attila Bruni

Stud. AssistantsGeorg Holand
Manuel Jung
Thea Jung
Devika Prakash


Melpomeni Antonakaki
Silke Ohlmeier

Simon Schaupp
Manuela Thiele

Funded byExzellenzinitiative
Runtimesince 01/2015

To gain insight into the recursive evolution of digitization and organization as well as their interplay with societal change, we conduct research on two conceptual levels. We examine newly constituted organizational fields and individual organizations within these fields. We engage in participatory research for studying and doing organization. We also communicate closely with engineers and companies, in order to study newly emerging objects of concern, practices and structures on both of these levels. Starting from this point, we work towards a theoretical framework building on both Science and Technology Studies and Organizational Theory.

Lab News...

24/09-28/09: Uli, Elena and Johan attend DGS-Conference in Göttingen
09/08-24/09: David works as visiting scholar at the Biomedical Design and Systems Laboratory, University of Victoria
01/09: Carlos starts working for EU-funded SCALINGS Project

Projects and collaborations

The Experimental Making of the Future of Work

The aim of the research project is to investigate experimental approaches to alternative forms of work. In the context of discourses on Industrie 4.0 and the Future of Work, organizations try to reflect on the meaning of these often-abstract developments in relation to their own actions, and to develop corresponding programs. In this sense, questions about the future development of work arise in a similar way for science, firms and other organizations: How do organizational structures change in a digitalized context? How can decent work be organized considering the increasing demand for flexibility? Where can and must political and regulatory actions begin? Instead of asking these questions directly, the research project follows organizational approaches that address these questions. Thus, we ask which topics are considered relevant and how and under which conditions do these evolve in organizational action? A widespread organizational mode of approaching these issues are experimental settings designed to allow open but controlled experimentation with future forms of work. Such an experimental setting is the subject of this research project. We accompany an IT service provider in setting up such an experimental space that builds upon an initiative by the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.

Project manager: Dr. Uli Meyer
Project associate: Tobias Drewlani


Institutional reflexivity in sociotechnical networks: Participatory analysis and design of cyclic innovation practice in Product-Service systems (PSS) (CRC 768)

Moving to Product-Service Systems (PSS) makes it increasingly challenging to coordinate the interaction between an increasingly heterogeneous group of actors. This requires 1) innovation work, defined as the social praxis of developing innovations. Such innovation work must be 2) periodically evaluated and refined. Finally, 3) in a process of institutional reflexivity, the emerging organizational forms of cycle-management must themselves be monitored and adjusted. Sub-project A11 addresses the third level: How can organizational arrangements themselves be cyclically evaluated and refined? It aims at identifying appropriate forms of institutional reflexivity and develops a participatory approach to co-design them with relevant stakeholders.

Responsible at MCTS: Tobias Drewlani, Johan Buchholz, Dr. Uli Meyer

DFG-Network: The dormant potential of Neoinstitutionalism

Neoinstitutionalism is one of the leading theories organisation studies. Starting from empirical problems this theoretical approach of Neoinstitutionalism contributed to our understanding of organisations in multiple ways. Currently, Neoinstitutionalism addresses three problems in particular: (1) Tensions between heterogeneous institutional logics, (2) Meaning of meso-order such as organisational fields, (3) Questions of micro-foundation of institutional change. While inducing a significant expansion of employing this approach, emphasising these problem statements has also contributed to a loss of theoretical coherence. Hence a precise, theoretical foundation appears essential, especially in order to secure the applied relevance of this approach in a sustainable manner. This scientific network focuses on the following key objectives: (1) Analysis of current concepts of organisational fields, logics, and institutional work in terms if underlying theoretical frameworks, deficits as well as potential of application, (2) Exploration of a stronger foundation of these concepts in existing social theories, and based on this, (3) Theoretical advancement of these concepts while considering micro-, meso-, and macro levels. The developed concepts should provide for novel theoretical explanatory potential for empirical phenomena. The results are supposed to/expected to be published in a collective volume and should contribute to the theory’s advancement in the long run.

For further information on this project please follow this link

Project manager at MCTS: Dr. Uli Meyer

PhD Project:
Shaping future forms of work. The reconfiguration of codetermination.

In his PhD project, Tobias Drewlani is interested in the shaping and enactment of current and future developments of work. Specifically, he investigates the efforts of trade unions and employee representatives in this regard: how do these groups make sense of new technologies and how is their work being shaped by these technologies vice versa. Instead of following the introduction of a specific technology into an existing setting, the project aims to explore the open-ended efforts that produce and and are coproduced by current discourses on digital work.


PhD Project:
Industrial User Configurations: The Introduction of 3D-Printing to Prosthetics

In his PhD project, David Seibt explores how the introduction of 3D-printing technologies is connected to changing user constructions in the prosthetics industry. Building on a comparative study of prosthetic product design, David develops a model for analyzing the relationship between production technologies and user landscapes on the industrial scale. By drawing on both Actor-Network Theory and the theory of organizing, the project contributes to bridging STS and Organization Studies.


Industries without borders?

The project "Industries without Borders?" was launched as part of the German-Franco Academy for the Industry of the Future as a cooperation between the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the Institute Mines-Télécom (IMT) in November 2017. It aims to explore the transformation of contemporary industries and involves sociologists, economists, management and strategy researchers. In contemporary discourse, we can find the imagination that organizational borders are increasingly challenged or dissolved by digitalization. For instance, there is the idea that new digital technologies show the potential to remove barriers between a range of heterogeneous elements, such as production technologies, organizations, innovative activities and products, to name just a few. In this regard, the concept of “the industry of the future” anticipates the hopes and fears related to a more boundaryless industrial production. The project “industries without borders” pays attention to how organizational borders are dissolved or disappearing, but also how they are reinforced or created. While openness is one of the buzzwords of the last decade (keywork: open innovation), this does not mean that boundaries lose their significance in the organization of industries. In a comparative effort, the project is devoted to the development of theoretically informed empirical insights on dynamics of re-organization in contemporary industries.

Project manager at MCTS: Dr. Uli Meyer
Project associates at MCTS: Dr. Judith Igelsböck, Elena Zelesniak


LIT Project: Innovation Scripts

Innovation is one of the central ideologies of our age. As part of this broader trend, also the practices and processes in which innovations are created are subject to ongoing renewal. Specifically the questions of (1) who/what partakes in innovation activities, (2) how roles and responsibilities are distributed, and (3) how innovation settings and atmospheres are designed, have become key questions in contemporary society. While innovation is tightly interconnected with paradigms of creativity and novelty (see e.g. Schumpeter 1954), the dominance of the “Silicon Valley innovation model,” or the rise of “Industrie 4.0” bear witness to isomorphic tendencies of imitation and homogenization when it comes to handle the pressures and risks as posed by innovation. Between novelty and imitation, the organization of innovation represents a powerful means for societal change. The project develops the device of the ‘innovation script’ to empirically explore these dynamics. A broad range of organizations operating in the triple helix of industry, government, and academia in the industrial region of Upper Austria build the empirical exploration ground therefore. The project, moreover, seeks to perform arts-based research and makes use of the dramaturgical and productive potential of the concept of the script. It does so in collaboration with the “Kraftwerk - Triebwerk der Forschung” - a joint initiative of the Johannes Kepler Universität (JKU), the Kunstuniversität Linz (UFG), and the Tabakfabrik Linz (TFL). In a transdisciplinary effort, existing innovation scripts are put into question and new ones written.

Projectleader: Dr. Judith Igelsböck

Agile project management and new customer requirements

The project investigates how collaboration between companies is changing in the context of digitalization. It deals particularly with new expectations that customers have against companies and the impact these have within those organizations. The specific research interest is the implementation of agile project work. To this end, the following research questions are asked: How are customer requirements changing and what consequences does this change entail? How does this affect organizational practice? The project’s empirical basis encompasses interviews as well as ethnographic studies of projects run in agile mode. The goal is firstly to analyze the changes affecting collaboration between service providers and clients in connection with the digital transformation and secondly to understand which approaches to agile project work exist within the various organizations with an aim to identify the opportunities, areas of tension and challenges that accompany these different approaches. The overall goal is to gain an understanding of the complexity and dynamics involved, in a way that the results obtained can be integrated into the broader research spectrum pertaining to the question of changing organizational boundaries in the course of digitalization.

Responsible at MCTS: Dr. Uli Meyer, Elena Zelesniack


Cuevas-Garcia, Carlos (2018). “Understanding Interdisciplinarity in Its Argumentative Context: Thought and Rhetoric in the Perception of Academic Practices.” Interdisciplinary Science Reviews 43(4): 54-73.

Drewlani, Tobias; Seibt, David (2018): Configuring the Independent Developer. In: Journal of Peer Production (12).

Igelsböck, J. (2018) The Limits of Epistemic Control, the Powers of Actualization, and the Moral Economies of Fictional Collective. In: Social Epistemology, Special Issue: Social and epistemic control in collaborative research (currently under review).

Igelsböck, J., Schüssler, E. (2018) What is an Institutional Script? In: Nano-Paper Series “Institution – Organisation – Gesellschaft.“ (forthcoming)

Igelsböck, Judith, and Laura Zölzer (2018). "Prototyping Intervention! - A Workshop and Two Letters." EASST Review 37(1).

Igelsböck, J. (2017) "Engaging with the Concept of the ‘Script’ in Industrial Innovation Studies–or how Retro–ANT is Perfect but not ‘Enough’." In: Crabu, S., Giardullo, P., Miele, F. and Turrini, M. (eds.): SOCIOTECHNICAL. Proceedings of the 6th STS Italia Conference. 435-446.

Igelsböck, J. (2016): Designing ’Integration Machines’. Computer simulations and modeling in transdisciplinary sustainability research. In: Bettina-Johanna Krings, Hannot Rodriguez, Anna Schleisiek (Eds.): Scientific knowledge and the transgression of boundaries. Springer, 133-158.

Taught courses

TermYearName of instructor(s)Full name of the courseInstrution language

Carlos Cuevas Garcia
David Seibt

Questioning narratives of change in organisations, industry and innovationEnglish
Cansu Guner-Birdal
Judith Igelsböck
Basic Methods in Science & Technology Studies (Theory)English
Carlos Cuevas GarciaBasic Methods in Science & Technology Studies (Methods)English
Tobias DrewlaniImmersion projectEnglish
Summer2018Tobias Drewlani
Uli Meyer
Carlos Cuevas Garcia
David Seibt
Innovation & Organization. Sociological PerspectivesEnglish
Carlos Cuevas Garcia
Tobias Drewlani
Cansu Guner-Birdal
Methods in STSEnglish
Judith Igelsböck
Uli Meyer
Doctoral Workshop: A battle of network-conceptsEnglish
Winter2017/18Judith Igelsböck
David Seibt
Melina Antonakaki
Immersion Project


Carlos Cuevas Garcia
Uli Meyer
Basic Methods in Science & Technology Studies (Theory)English
Georg Jochum
Simon Schaupp
The cybernetic turn. Visions of communication and control. English
Carlos Cuevas GarciaUnderstanding interdisciplinarityEnglish
David SeibtDesigning bodies


Uli MeyerSTS-MINT: STS in Science, Technology, Engineering, and MathematicsEnglish
Carlos Cuevas Garcia
Judith Igelsböck
An introduction to Science and Technology Studies (Universität Tübingen)English
Winter2016/17Uli Meyer
Judith Igelsböck
Basic Methods in Science & Technology Studies (Theory)English
Carlos Cuevas Garcia
David Seibt
Organization, technology, bodiesEnglish
Carlos Cuevas GarciaPractical and professional issues of interdisciplinarityGerman
Summer2016Uli Meyer
David Seibt
Organisation - Technik - GesellschaftGerman
Winter2015/16The lab starts...