Neue Industriearbeit

New Forms of Industrial Work – Challenges and Consequences of new Production Systems


Starting Point

The German industry is facing new challenges – e.g. because of the globalization, a rising cost-competition, or shorter life-cycles and the rising number of customer-specific products. This forces companies to optimize their processes permanently. Besides product-innovations, process-innovations are needed to find solutions for cost-pressure, quality standards, the demand on flexibility and being adaptable as well as finding innovative capability.

With the discussion about comprehensive production system (CPS), operational reorganization processes got a new thrust. Companies try to convert existing and new modernizing-elements in an overall concept, which should avoid the problems of the previous standalone solution. With CPS the outlined challenges of the German industrial companies should be coped.

Against the backdrop of these facts, the project “New Forms of industrial work” is focused on a deeper qualitative analysis of conditions, introductory processes and job sequences of these concepts, in view of the rising spreading of comprehensive production systems. It is assumed, that – with the introduction of these concepts – the operational reorganization processes is going to get a new thrust. With view from a labour- and industrial sociological perspective, it can be clarified as a new rationalizing-paradigm.



During the last years the socio-scientific labour-research presented only a very little number of well-founded results about the development of industrial work. In particular, this research had missed to ask, how far the introduction of comprehensive production systems is standing for a fundamental conception-change of rationalization of production- and labour-processes. Based on this, the project pursues three targets.

(1) The empirical-analytical target is focused on qualitative analyses of the conditions, introductory processes, and job sequences of the introduction of CPS.

(2) The labour-political target should find answers to the question for the consequences of the CPS-introduction for the operational interest constellation between management and employee representation.

(3) The paramount conceptional target is pointed at an empirical-based contribution for the socio-scientific discussion about labour-development. This has to deal with the question of the change of industrial labor, in particular. It is said that with the introduction of CPS a fundamental conceptional-change of labor is implied.



The methodical procedure is oriented by the base of qualitative social research based on case studies and additional expert discussions:

(1) Guided interviews with experts from associations or science help to get through the extermination field as well as to complete the collected information during other project phases.

(2) The research questions can only be answered in an empirical appropriate way due to qualitative case studies to sufficiently analyze the different operational situations and its complex requirement structures. The core of an empirical work is built by qualitative case studies of companies with an advanced state of or experience with CPS. In general production as well as employee related aspects are taken in account.