The Evolution of

Document Sample
The Evolution of Powered By Docstoc
					Social Change through Social Intervention                                    1




                                        Social Learning
                                        through
                                        Social Intervention
                                        The Evolution of a
                                        Social Research Institute
                                        Towards a Learning
                                        Organisation

                                        A case study of
                                        Sozialforschungsstelle Dortmund

                                        Hans-Werner Franz


                                        Paper submitted to the
                                        VET FORUM
                                        Learning in Learning Organisations
                                        and VET Culture
                                        Wageningen
                                        23-25 November 2000




                                        Dortmund, February 2000
Social Change through Social Intervention                                                                                     2


Inhalt

1         Introduction ..................................................................................................... 3

2         Promoting PPP networking ............................................................................ 5
2.1       The evolution of self-definition .......................................................................... 5
2.2       sfs - a network .................................................................................................. 7
2.3       sfs - a network in a network .............................................................................. 8
2.3.1       Spin-offs ........................................................................................................ 9
2.3.2       Decentralised centres .................................................................................. 10
2.4       sfs - a network in a network of networks ......................................................... 12

3         Paradigmatic change .................................................................................... 16
Social Change through Social Intervention                                                3




1 Introduction

sfs, Social Research Centre Dortmund, is a public institute which has gone market
dedicating its primary effort to structural change in an old industrial region, the Ruhr,
and building on a specific interpretation of public private partnership as its broadway to
success in this endeavour and to its own survival. The paper describes a learning and
transformation process partly also shaped by the author. Therefore, it is mix of a struc-
tured interpretation and personal look back without anger.


Public private partnership is a purposeful collaboration of public and private entities in
order to attain mutually wanted advantages in a common reference framework. The
public entity in this case study is primarily a public social research centre, Sozialfor-
schungsstelle Dortmund, sfs. This is where I work. The private entities are all sorts of
companies, old ones, new ones, renewed ones. In one of them I work, too. Public and
private is also the funding of many of the projects carried out in this pursuit.. The com-
mon reference framework is structural change in Dortmund and beyond Dortmund in the
whole of the old industrial region on the river Ruhr, the Ruhr Area or, in German, Ruhr-
gebiet. The mutually wanted advantages are sought by mastering structural change,
avoiding decline, saving and creating qualified, economically viable employment, main-
taining living and cultural standards. This is where we work all together.


Dortmund is situated in the East of the Ruhr Area, has some 620,000 inhabitants, and
looks relatively wealthy, not exactly a boom town but evidently a town where many
things are tackled and under construction. Dortmund till the late eighties, used to be
coal and steel and beer and all sorts of services around them. Dortmund today is no
coal, some steel left due to be closed down within a year, and two out of formerly nine
breweries left – and about 15 per cent of unemployment. Dortmund today also is 70 per
cent of the active population working in services like insurance companies, commerce,
software development and applications, multi media and communications, chip produc-
tion, two universities and a considerable variety of major research activities. Among
these, applied social sciences are one important stronghold with a wide range of activi-
ties.
Social Change through Social Intervention                                                    4



sfs is a Landesinstitut, a public corporation immediately belonging to the federal state or
land of North Rhine Westphalia. Established in 1972 by the federal state parliament, the
Landtag, it has the mission of “accompanying industrial change” by empirical research.
Originally it was founded in 1946, right after WW II, as an institute of the University of
Münster – on the Ruhr, there was not a single university at that time –in the fifties and
sixties it became a large institute with top reputation. With few exceptions, the whole
post-war promotion of German professors in social sciences worked at some time in this
centre. After the creation of a series of universities in the Ruhr Area during the sixties, in
1972, the institute became a pure research centre without teaching fully financed by the
federal state budget, holding a total staff of 9 scientists and some assistance functions
in secretariats and the library. Today sfs is an institute with a EUR 6 million turnover
(2000) and more than 100 employees of which about 50 are scientific staff covering the
whole range of work related research, transfer and consultancy on areas like vocational
education and training (VET), organisation development, HRD, quality and ecological
management, flexible working time arrangements, issues of (internal and external) la-
bour markets and regional development, gender aspects, health and safety organisa-
tion, etc.


But the central purpose of this paper does not lie in describing the structural change of a
region or an individual institute. Therefore, regional change issues are treated very
loosely. The main focus of my paper is oriented towards the description of the results
and the implications of a social, individual and organisational learning and transforma-
tion process based on PPP networking as well as the reconstruction of the process it-
self.
Social Change through Social Intervention                                                   5




2 Promoting PPP networking

Whereas the old Sozialforschungsstelle was an academic breeder of university aca-
demics with top reputation in the scientific community, the new institute founded in 1972
had primarily a societal and social mission of accompanying industrial change inscribed
in the document of birth and the centre’s statutes by a parliament with a social democ-
ratic majority. At all times, sfs has sought to pursue this mission, although with less
academic success, without underestimating the value of recognition by the scientific
community. Nevertheless, there have been substantive shifts in the (self-) definition of
how this was to be achieved. PPP networking has always played an important role, but
what has been a spontaneous necessity in the beginnings, by the years, has become a
purposeful strategy of contributing to structural change and mastering structural change
in the own organisation.



2.1   The evolution of the institute’s self-definition

The financial development chart of sfs provides clear evidence of how the institute’s
evolution can be subdivided in three neatly discernable periods. Of course, none of
these developments was initiated by far-sighted management decisions only; broader
societal and social changes induced shifts in the way of thinking, public and semi-public
programmes (e.g. of foundations) with new promotion focuses created new opportuni-
ties leading to different dynamics of project acquisition, and, last not least, changes in
the personal constellations and coalitions within the institute had major influence on
these transformations.


As always in life, looking back on a specific evolution highlights a specific mix of inci-
dence, necessity and deliberate decisions. Neither the analysis of these influences nor
their assessment is at the core of the following periodic scheme. It is merely meant to
reconstruct in broad strokes the major differences of its stages from a PPP perspective,
i.e. to situate the public institute with reference to the private interests, to the surround-
ing society and region and to the research markets.
Social Change through Social Intervention                                                                                6

   The seventies were characterised by mostly self-sufficient research with a relatively
    vague reference to specific societal problems but not without the benevolent inten-
    tion of influencing political choices and strategies, primarily of the trade unions and
    of social democracy. Only part of the work was organised in clearly structured pro-
    jects. A substantial change occurred after the decision taken in 1978 to go much
    more for the socially relevant research market which at that time was the Federal
    Government’s Humanisation of Worklife Programme oriented towards the moderni-
    sation of work organisation structures.
   The eighties were characterised by this decision leading to a slowly growing compo-
    nent of research projects acquired on the public and semi-public research market.
    Research, very much of it action research, was focused on so-called socially com-
    patible in-company organisation
                                            12
                                             12
    and technology on the one hand,                     Drittm itte l
                                            10           Drittm itte l
                                                        Ha u s h a lt
    pilot projects in VET and re-            10
                                                         Ha u s h a lt
                                            8
    gional development on the other             8

                                            6
    hand. The main social partners              6

                                            4
    still were the trade unions, works          4

                                            2
    councils and social democracy,              2

                                            0
    although no longer in the Fed-              07 2 7 4 76 7 8 8 0 8 2 84 8 6 8 8 9 0 92     9 4 9 5 96 9 7 9 8 9 9
                                                   7 2 7 4 76 7 8 8 0 8 2 84 8 6 8 8 9 0 92     9 4 9 5 96 9 7 9 8 9 9

    eral Government. With growing
    unemployment in Dortmund and the Ruhr Area, first individual initiatives without di-
    rect reference to the institute’s official policies led to a closer implication of parts of
    sfs in local labour market efforts. sfs started considering itself an indigenous factor of
    (mostly but not only) regional economic and social development. In the mid-eighties,
    European projects were taken up, at the beginning as a special activity of few people
    who lay the foundations for a considerable enlargement of activities in the nineties.
    At the end of the eighties, all work was organised in projects with external and/or in-
    ternal funding, the latter being the exception. The institute’s new Ex. Dir. dismissed
    the only person who denied working in projects and won a lasting legal dispute en-
    forcing this rule.
   The nineties were marked by the decision taken in the late eighties, of going into the
    market more systematically. Step by step, work at the institute became nearly com-
    pletely focused on applied research, transfer activities and (pilot) consultancy sec-
    onding much more closely regional development, also by using European funds
Social Change through Social Intervention                                                 7

      more systematically. Acquisition of projects, in the seventies and eighties very much
      depending on employment security, seniority and hierarchy, became a generalised
      competence requirement for working in the institute. Along with good relations to
      trade unions and works councils, more and more, good relations to companies,
      management, employers associations and chambers became a necessary condition
      of facilitating access to companies and local or branch networks. But the decisive
      difference now was that the projects had to give real-time answers to questions and
      problems which were no longer defined by research interests alone but by real re-
      gions, real labour markets, real companies and real workers. What I mean by this
      will be explained further on.


In the course of all these generically described developments, sfs became/has become
a regional competence centre more and more profoundly integrated in a number of lo-
cal, regional, national and EU networks, partly also global networks; and all of them,
without any exception are PPP networks. In times of globalisation, this special mix of
network ranges is one of the characteristics which make sfs interesting for local and
regional partners. Evidently these evolutions have had major impact on the internal and
context organisation of sfs.



2.2     sfs - a network

sfs is a public institute with an Executive Director. The        sfs organisation chart
                                                                      November 1996

director used to be an important person. The acquisi-
tion of important projects was not possible without the
important person. Although highly informal in general,
many seemingly informal procedures in the institute
were extremely sensitive matters of seniority and hi-
erarchy. The organisation chart of the old organisa-
tion shows a flat hierarchy with strong demarcations
between the research areas. Individual responsibility for the acquisition of projects has
logically induced high degrees of individualism leading to individual choices of collabo-
ration, frequently beyond practical or professional logics. Consequently, a series of re-
organisation steps of the institute led to a more flexible and open structure, internally
Social Change through Social Intervention                                                                                                            8

and externally oriented towards networking. The successive shifts towards a more im-
Uni Do                                                                                          Wissen-      mediate market orientation has turned
                                                                                              schaftlicher
         MSWWF                      11                          1                                Beirat

                                    Kooperations-
                                                                                                             direction in the formal sense into a ser-
                                                          OE-IB-
                10                   stelle Wiss.-
                                                         Beratung
                                                                                        2
                                     Arbeitswelt
                       Neue
                      Formen
                                                                             Dienst-
                                                                        leistungsarbeit
                                                                                                             vice function for a great number of
                     der Arbeit

                                                                                   Bildung-                  semi-autonomous thematic areas. Hier-
      9       Arbeitszeit          Geschäftsführender Direktor                      Arbeit           3
                                                                                  Beteiligung

                                             Forschungsrat                                                   archy   has   further   lost   importance
                Belegschafts-                                                    Arbeit und
          8
                strukturen/PE                                                    Gesundheit
                                                                                                 4           whereas the aspect of leadership in a
                             Betrieb und                             Neue
                            Strukturwandel      Umwelt-
                                               Mobilität-TA
                                                                    Medien
                                                                                                             scientific organisation remains open to
  Arbeitskreise             7                                                5            Kommissionen
                                                     6                                                       further experience.



2.3       sfs - a network in a network

Being a public institute under the responsibility of the federal state Ministry of Science
and Education (not Labour as could be expected), sfs works under the legal framework
of universities. The formal employer is the federal state. One of the stipulations of the
law says that within five years the organisation can have any number of temporary con-
tracts with one person, but after five years this person will get no contract at all with this
federal state any more unless it will be to occupy a regular unlimited Civil Service posi-
tion which must be free at present. This is opposed to German Labour Law in general
which says that the third successive temporary work contract with a person will give this
person automatically the legal status of unlimited employment.


This special employment stipulation was no problem as long as the institute had not
gone market. There were nine scientific posts paid by the land and the few people with
temporary project-related contracts usually could find a job elsewhere or slip into one of
the posts if one of the permanent job holders had left the institute. With the growing
number of projects and a quickly increasing temporary staff the employment structure
became much more of a problem, the more so since professional market-related re-
search needs a certain stability and continuity of professional competence. With the
given organisation, any experienced researcher who had learned to carry out projects
with defined objectives, time and money and to talk normal non-academic German with
management or workers in companies, had to be “sacked” after five years unless
someone had gone or died. A serious dilemma. The normal solution throughout Europe
Social Change through Social Intervention                                                   9

for this problem is to contract in free lancers who voluntarily or not are in a precarious
working position. We did not want to go that way.


The problem could only be solved by creating an internal external labour market around
the institute. We have achieved this with two complementary strategies, by creating our
own private partners and by enlarging our stable co-operation context.

2.3.1 Spin-offs
In the eighties the problem could still be tackled by “parking” competent people in a
small and noble non-profit association called Society for the Promotion of Social Re-
search in Dortmund (GFS) which unites representatives of important companies as well
as all relevant social and political forces in Dortmund. It was traditionally chaired by the
Labour Director of the large steel company who had its legal seat in Dortmund. The ex-
ecutive manager of GFS was – for 13 years myself – and is occupied as a side job by a
senior researcher employed at sfs. People who had reached the five year threshold
were formally employed by GFS in projects financed by sfs, sitting in rooms of sfs and
participating in the internal life of sfs without hardly any restrictions. When one of the
permanent jobs at sfs became free, in some cases also half jobs by job sharing, one of
the colleagues “parked” at GFS, returned to sfs.


In the early nineties the problem became more and more urgent since the fluctuation in
the permanent jobs at sfs slowed down and the by-pass of holding competent people by
parking them at GFS led to the logical effect that the internal labour market of sfs/GFS
was composed by more senior people. As the whole workforce kept growing during the
nineties (cf. the financial chart above), the GFS by-pass became more and more risky
due to the fact that at GFS the Labour Law allowed two subsequent temporary contracts
only. Permanent employment was considered to be a financial risk which the Board of
Presidents was not willing to incur.


Being a public institute, sfs was/is not allowed to invest money in a private venture. So a
number of people pooled private funds and founded two limited companies with different
approaches and thematic focuses. One is called social innovation and the majority of its
14 employees (2000) work in projects acquired under the sfs label in the framework of a
subcontract with sfs, in the offices of sfs, with the same calculation as sfs and fully inte-
Social Change through Social Intervention                                                10

grated in the common horizontal and vertical organisation. They form part of the re-
search areas of sfs. Few others have shifted their activities more strictly to private con-
sultancy activities and will not or not fully form part of the common work context. The
connections are manifold: There are people who have half a job at sfs, another half at
SI. Another colleague who is fully employed by SI has been elected member of the Re-
search Council of sfs. The present chairman of the Works Council of sfs is fully em-
ployed by SI. Myself, I am fully employed by sfs and one of two executive managers of
SI, the other being fully employed by SI and focusing increasingly on activities separate
from sfs.


GAUS Ltd., Society for Applied Enterprise Research and Social Statistics, has about
half of its eight employees within the sfs work context, the other half working independ-
ently of sfs. They also employed the computer experts who service our internal com-
puter network. Meanwhile these colleagues have split away and mounted their own
business, but still servicing the sfs computer network.


Since mid-1999, sfs is running a pilot project called “Integrated TeleHouse” where a
number of women are developing an employment and training strategy for unemployed
women (which they were themselves till the project started) who want to start tele-
working activities. The project has been acquired with the explicit objective of making it
a self-sustained business at the end. This new type of projects which is applied re-
search, development and employment creation at the same time, is a logical continua-
tion of the evolution sfs has taken itself.

2.3.2 Decentralised centres
In the first half of the eighties, the City of Dortmund together with the local Savings Bank
and the Chamber of Industry and Commerce developed a rather daring strategy for a
technology centre which did not indulge in the simplistic “make it easy to start a busi-
ness” manner that used to be fashionable at that time. It was relatively expensive to get
start-up space in this technology centre founded in 1984, thus stimulating a positive se-
lection of new promising companies. Today there are three technology centres as
breeders in the Dortmund Technology Park, a whole new and rapidly expanding busi-
ness area with more than 7000 employments at present.
Social Change through Social Intervention                                             11

“What is good for technology cannot be bad for research and employment”, I thought
and launched the idea of setting up, along with the technology centre, an employment
and training centre for unemployed people and a labour-related research and transfer
centre with the explicit mission to accompany the profound structural change Dortmund
and the whole of the Ruhr Area were and would be undergoing.



2.3.2.1 The Dortmund Development Centre
The Dortmund Development Centre (EWZ) was founded in 1985 as an employment and
training initiative backed by the Trade Union Confederation (DGB) of Dortmund and to a
certain degree by the city. I was one of two chairmen of its board till 1997 when it be-
came a limited company based in the Centre for Labour and Social Sciences. The De-
velopment Centre has employed and trained more than 700 long-term unemployed
people and founded an ecologically oriented enterprise centre in a 32 companies with a
total of 240 employees are based now in these buildings which have been completely
refurbished by the workers of employment and training measures run by EWZ. The De-
velopment Centre itself stopped organising employment measures in 1993 due to wors-
ened financial conditions, left the ecological enterprise centre and became a continuing
training centre for employed and unemployed people and for migrants based at the
Centre for Labour and Social Sciences.



2.3.2.2 The Centre for Labour and Social Sciences on the premises of the former col-
        liery “Minister Stein”
Whereas the Development Centre could be implemented soon after conceiving it, the
Centre for Labour and Social Sciences (Arbeits- und Sozialwissenschaftliches Zentrum
ASZ) turned out to be a long-term mission temporarily threatened to become a mission
impossible.


To tell a long story in few words, it took us ten years of persuasion and promotion until
the dream came true, with GFS (the Honourable Society) as the main driver. In 1995,
the first half of sfs moved to the north of Dortmund into the refurbished administration
buildings of a former coal mine called Minister Stein, the last one to be closed in Dort-
mund in 1987. The other half moved in the first days of 1997 into a new building which
Social Change through Social Intervention                                                 12

completed the old compound. But the clue of the concept was not (only) to get a new
building for sfs (which for certain was badly necessary), the charm of the centre concept
lay in the idea of concentrating the great number of not university-based public and pri-
vate entities in Dortmund dedicated to applied labour-related social research, consul-
tancy and training activities in one large decentralised centre in order to
     enhance the existing supply potentials in these fields by improved co-operation pos-
      sibilities and structures, and
     to enhance the specific labour market for this sort of activities by establishing some-
      thing like an internal labour market for applied social research.


At present, 20 institutes, most of them small private companies and associations with a
focus on consultancy in organisation and personnel development and continuing train-
ing, with a total of 320 employees are concentrated on the premises of the former mine
which used to be the heart of the town quarter of Eving – a (net-) working symbol for
structural change in an old industrial area.


sfs as the largest institute with a focus on labour and social research is the centre of the
centre and plays a protagonist role. All other institutes and companies can use the ex-
cellent library and its facilities for meetings. GFS, up to date primarily a promotion soci-
ety for sfs, now provides its co-ordination and marketing services for the whole centre
and will eventually change its name into Society for the Promotion of Structural Change.
Another large public Institute for Regional and Urban Development recently joined the
centre. Since their focus does not fully fit into the concept of labour and social sciences
and the training providers could not find themselves in this denomination either, the cen-
tre members have agreed to market the centre as ZMS which stands for Zentrum Minis-
ter Stein for Science, Consultancy and Continuing Training. The centre’s third largest
institute is a semi-private association which formally runs the Institute for (social issues
of) Gerontology associated to the University of Dortmund.



2.4     sfs - a network in a network of networks

All these events and developments in themselves are part of and contribution to the
structural change Dortmund is undergoing. But the PPP networking strategy is intended
Social Change through Social Intervention                                                13

to promote and foster structural change not only by our institute(s) being part of it. Be-
yond being components we want to be contributors, active assistants, helpers for self-
help, thinkers and implementers of sustainable structural change.


There is no intervention in structural change exclusively based on scientific studies,
books and papers. Transfer of knowledge does not work without the knowledge of prac-
tical transfer mechanisms. The specific offer of sfs and our fellow institutes in the Centre
is not only that we know how to help others competently to master structural change in
a socially compatible way. The offer is made more attractive, especially for small and
medium-sized enterprises, because we know from where and how to attract funds
which allow us to do this. Although most managers pay lip service to a German saying
which in English could be “no cost, no use”, they eventually cherish the idea to get
competent assistance for no or small money. Networks help to tell them that we can
help them. This is our immediate interest in networks.


But of course, networking does not function when it only serves marketing interests. It
only functions if all networkers receive at least relevant parts of what they expected from
participating when they joined the network. Nevertheless, their expectations might
change once they are in the network and due to the frequent circumstance that network-
ing offers them unexpected possibilities. This is why networks can have very different
and changing purposes even without a change of the networkers.


For a scientific institute like sfs
with the declared mission and
intention   to   assist   structural
change, networking is the only
practical way to penetrate with
continuity into the local and re-
gional or branch web of eco-
nomic and social activities. This
may happen in very different
ways and contexts. They can be
Social Change through Social Intervention                                              14

stable networks with long-term objectives or networks established by and for specific
projects which may not survive the end of the project. A few examples of networks initi-
ated by sfs or built with active support from sfs may show the various modalities.
   KIM, the Co-operation Initiative for Dortmund’s Metal Manufacturing Industry, has
    been launched in the mid-nineties as a joint initiative of some of the Centre’s (ASZ)
    institutes and companies together with the Association of the Metal Manufacturing
    Industry and Metal Union (IG Metall) for Dortmund. The objective was to foster and
    promote organisational change and modernisation in the mostly small and medium-
    sized metal manufacturing enterprises based in Dortmund by mobilising the joint po-
    tentials of the institutes and by drawing in external funding from various federal
    state, national or EU programmes in order to facilitate this process. As a background
    information, it must be said that since the late eighties the federal state government
    had more and more adopted a decentralised and bottom-up approach for funding
    structural change by building on the indigenous factors and self-organisation capaci-
    ties of the regions. So networking in the regions and defining regional development
    objectives had become an official requirement for obtaining funds.
   Dortmunder Forum Frau & Wirtschaft: The Dortmund Forum Women & Economy is
    a long-term initiative founded with active assistance of sfs by the Department for
    Economic and Employment Development of City of Dortmund and a number of
    women in relevant management positions including works councils. They develop
    and organise positive action to facilitate information and support for and on women’s
    possibilities for success in enterprises.
   ACTAB is a working party on technology assessment on the level of the land of
    North Rhine Westphalia. It serves as a permanent discourse platform for scientists,
    practitioners and politicians on the social and societal impacts and consequences of
    new technologies.
   euroNET:WORK&EDUCATION, originally founded in the end-eighties by sfs, the
    Spanish partner CIREM (Barcelona) and the Dutch partner its (Nijmegen), has be-
    come a stable co-operation context for European projects. Each member institute,
    normally one per EU member state, is considered to be the first or access partner
    when you are looking for a project partner in the respective country. When this part-
    ner is not able or does not want to co-operate at present on a specific subject, they
    will know who is best or next best in their country and will facilitate contact. Of
    course, besides euroNET which within the wide range of work and education is a
Social Change through Social Intervention                                                  15

    thematically unspecific network, there are several other frequently less stable and
    more accidental thematic networks.
   BWH, Bildungswerk Witten/Hattingen, is a major vocational training provider based
    in Witten and Hattingen, two small towns south of Dortmund which also were and
    partially still are steel towns. BWH originally was the vocational training departments
    and workshops of the two large steel works based there. When they began fading
    away in the late eighties, a large coalition of the towns, the unions, the steel compa-
    nies etc. opted for maintaining these facilities as a part of the indigenous potential of
    and for the region. sfs accompanied this spin-off process by consulting and evaluat-
    ing its management. A whole series of projects with sfs and funds from the EU and
    other sources has helped BWH to develop new training activities and to establish it-
    self in the region. As a former large industry facility the regional SMEs had not taken
    notice of it since it was inward-bound. Now as an outward-bound training provider,
    BWH had to adopt a market-oriented networking approach to establish and build up
    contacts and trust in its capacities. It has grown in this process from a relatively
    small training provider with 19 employees to a large training and employment pro-
    vider with 120 employees and some 200 people working in employment measures
    refurbishing and clearing the steelworks premises for future enterprise settlements.
    So BWH, like sfs, is something like a network spider spinning its own web and open-
    ing it, at the same time, for further activities with sfs as there is no similar centre in
    this district called Ennepe-Ruhr-Kreis.
Social Change through Social Intervention                                               16




3 Paradigmatic change

In the beginning we – at least many of us - thought we could be catalysts of change,
change agents without changing ourselves. We have learnt that it is impossible to be a
change agent without changing and being changed ourselves. In a nutshell, we had to
change everything. And it was a long and uncomfortable process which has not fin-
ished. It will never finish since we have to learn and change together with our customers
and stakeholders. Not enough, we must learn and change before our customers do.
Customer orientation in research, transfer activities and consultancy has profound con-
sequences for the whole way of thinking and working.
Embedded ourselves in the process of structural change, we had to change nearly eve-
rything.
   We had to change our customers and fields of action. Traditional social labour re-
    search used to be – and still is very frequently - oriented towards large, industrial
    companies and contexts, in our case very often even more restricted to coal and
    steel and the chemical industry. Since the most important action programmes of the
    EU and national ministries have a clear SME focus, we had to shift our attention to
    SMEs which is a very different world, and more and more to services. From large to
    small companies. From industry to services. From research orientation to customer
    and stakeholder orientation. From supply to demand orientation.
   We had to change our products. The traditional products of a traditional research
    institute are publications. Of course, we still (must) produce publications since our
    researchers also need a publication record for their individual career and for the sci-
    entific community. But most of our customers do not want a book or an article in a
    scientific review. They want something they can use in their normal and current ac-
    tivity. They want results in a language they can understand and in a format they can
    use for their work. Often they want tools. Normally we must convince them that they
    cannot have recipes. So we have now two different groups of customers, the scien-
    tific community and the economic or political world, and we must strive to avoid dou-
    ble work by optimising the work and its products.
   We had to change our methods. There is a large difference between an analytical
    research position and a situation where you must come to practical conclusions for
Social Change through Social Intervention                                                   17

    action and implementation. The traditional position of a researcher usually is a pas-
    sive and contemplative one, at most participative observation. A consultant re-
    searcher (institute) in the role of a change agent must think in strategic terms or in
    terms of problem solving and feasibility under conditions of restricted time and other
    resources, self-evidently without loosing the capacity of critical analysis. Help for self
    help must be the main approach in consultancy and action research which necessar-
    ily includes a participative way of working involving all relevant actors in a given field.
    It includes the recognition that the actors in a given field are and must stay the ex-
    perts of their work. The central requirement becomes to organise progress as a par-
    ticipative learning process among all people implied, including ourselves.
   We had to change our tools. Traditional research and researchers were used to
    work in the communication structures often still practised at universities: open
    (seemingly) unlimited and unrestricted process-oriented discourse. Result-oriented
    communication needs completely different tools of structuring time, information and
    outcomes maintaining open discourse, though, as a necessary source of creativity
    and openness. First of all, it needs a change in the language as non-academic pro-
    ject partners are experts in their own rights and have completely different cultures
    and terminologies. It also forces us to change our personal work styles. Of course,
    these changes could not only be changes towards the external work context, they
    had to have consequences for our own internal work contexts. For example, individ-
    ual time and task management have changed considerably. Reliable project and
    network management have become a must.
   We had to change our organisation. Working for the market and for SMEs requires
    to become an SME yourself. The structural change of our (scientific) work organisa-
    tion has been described above. But beyond this, the whole of the institute’s internal
    functioning and procedures had to change. The whole management of resources
    has become much more flexible. We had to skip the old cameralistic way of budget-
    ing which is normal for public institutes. We had to adopt cost unit accounting and
    calculations in daily work packages. Management got much more of a service role
    than before. The functions of the secretariats changed completely from typing pools
    to flexible project assistance. The institute has become a medium-sized research
    and consultancy company with a lot of employed free lancers working in internal and
    external networks. All this says:
   We had to change our way of thinking. We had to change ourselves.

				
DOCUMENT INFO
Shared By:
Categories:
Tags:
Stats:
views:0
posted:3/31/2013
language:English
pages:17
dominic.cecilia dominic.cecilia http://
About