Research Fields


Changes in How We Work

Within every society, work is of central importance, serving as a source of livelihood for the worker and creating value for the employer. Although this interdependent relationship has existed unchanged for decades and centuries, the framework within which work is performed is constantly changing. From the invention of the steam engine to the introduction of mass production based on the division of labor to the use of electrical engineering and information and communication technology, researchers have had a lasting impact on work and have repeatedly brought about change. In the process, the complexity of our work systems has steadily increased.

Changes in the General Conditions

The globalization of markets, international competition for technological leadership and the need to produce innovations in ever shorter cycles are key drivers of corporate competitiveness. These changes are also associated with higher demands on the skills and abilities of employees. Additional challenges arise from the current processes of social change – increasing urbanization, concentrating workers in already densely populated areas, and migration, which is shaping both demographic development and cultural diversity. In addition, advances in technology and increasing digitalization are already having a massive impact on how we work and will lead to further changes in the future as we move towards Industry 4.0.

Research Focus on the People in Work Systems

Against the backdrop of such a variety of influencing factors, their interaction and dynamics, and the resulting constant change in the way we work, it is clear that interdisciplinary research is needed to ensure that work is humane, economically efficient and effective. Research at the IAW – Institut für Arbeitswissenschaft (Institute of Industrial Engineering and Ergonomics) – focuses on the analysis, design and optimization of work systems and work processes in design and development, production and the service industry. With a longstanding tradition in work science research, the IAW understands adequate design to mean the design of work that meets both human-oriented and economic criteria.

Work Systems of the Future

In the future, companies will increasingly have to demonstrate their ability to cooperate and change. The basis for this lies in the design of work systems and processes adapted to meet human needs. The goal of our research is to develop efficient and quality-promoting work system solutions that also serve to develop the personality. Together with research institutions and our customers from industry and research, we put this goal into practice.

On the following pages, you will learn more about our projects, research fields, and the methods we use.