The Future of Work and Innovation in a Networked Society

Symposium of the Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society to be held in Berlin, Germany, on May 15, 2018

The symposium on the subject of “The Future of Work and Innovation in a Networked Society” takes place on Tuesday, May 15, 2018. The collaborative project Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society invites you to submit abstracts for contributions. The aim of the symposium is to bring together different disciplinary perspectives (e.g., from communication and social science, legal studies, computer science, economics science and engineering science) on the transformation of the working world and of innovation models in the digital society and to identify and discuss the key challenges for the creation of a self-determined, creative and innovative society.

Digitalisation is one of the central driving forces behind current transformations both in the working world and in the innovation models of industries and society. It affects millions of jobs, changes employment structures in companies and at the same time creates new possibilities for creative workers and citizens. It provides space for innovative approaches to the organisation of work by making new forms of collaboration among diverse constituencies possible (and necessary as well), but also enables new ways of globally fragmenting work, helping organisations to develop open innovation models of practice. It transforms qualification and skills requirements as well as forms of blended learning.

Digitalisation processes also bring new relevance to the question of how self-determination can be safeguarded and developed in the world of work and innovation. This concerns, on the one hand, the new possibilities for monitoring and control and the issue of the autonomy of the working population. Also, the risks of precarisation, which particularly emerge due to the development of the platform economy, must be contained. On the other hand, many creative and innovative products and services evolve from flexible working environments where the dividing lines between working and private sphere are blurred and new models of collaboration, interaction and models of work are tested.

The symposium will specifically focus on self-determination in these changing working environments. Self-determination means that digitalisation should not be seen as an unavoidable fate; instead, our capacity to shape it should be emphasised. Also, self-determination is a necessary prerequisite for any creative work – in social contexts as well as in working environments, where permanently employed people work together with click-work-forces.

Of course, power relations must also be taken into account. Thus, the current form of digitalisation reflects to a considerable extent the interests of a small group of powerful companies (and states) as well as the dominant “engineering ideologies”. It is therefore all the more important to make this shaping of the digitalisation process visible and to develop approaches that strengthen the possibilities for self-determination.

Thematic priorities of the symposium

The symposium will highlight current changes in the world of work and innovation through digitalisation and the internet, thus linking up with the theme “Working Worlds of the Future” of the Science Year 2018. We welcome contributions from different disciplines (e.g., from communication and social science, legal studies, computer science, engineering science, and others) on the following thematic areas and questions:

  • Working in highly automated processes
  • Skill change, education and learning in the digitalised world of work
  • Algorithmic governance: Using artificial intelligence and big data at the workplace
  • Platform economy, gig economy, sharing economy
  • Alternative models of collaboration and innovation
  • Social media and online communication at work
  • Human-computer and human-machine interaction
  • Socio-technical systems perspective on introducing digital technologies at work
  • Data-based business models and the transformation of industrial structures
  • The “dark sides“ of work in the digital society: stress, overload, surveillance
  • Maker culture and new forms of work
  • Ways and methods of researching digitalisation of work
  • Digitalised work and participation in political communication
  • Network effects, competition and innovation on digital markets
  • Intellectual property as means to foster innovation and participation
  • New ways of corporate learning—blended, gamified, adaptive
  • Fair open innovation practices
  • The role of user contributions in social innovations

You can download the Call for Papers here.