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Our research covers three main areas:

  • Organizational Studies: Organizational research focuses on the interrelation of (formal and informal) organizational structures and the behavior of its members. But how (and when) can actors change organizational structures? And, how is their behavior influenced by them? To find the answers to these questions, we will mainly follow a theory-based quantitative empirical approach. So far, we have examined a variety of organizations, ranging from enterprises to hospitals, and from soccer clubs to universities. The leading questions primarily focus upon special aspects of this interrelation such as knowledge transfer. In this case, it can also be shown, that knowledge transfer between organization members and units highly depends on the formal and informal structures and action strategies and motivation of its members and are mutually dependent.
  • Higher Education Research: Universities as knowledge-intensive organizations are predisposed to be scrutinized from an organizational perspective. However, there are two types of organization members in this case: students and professors/academic staff. This allows for a wide range of topics, such as non-traditional students, the organizability of academic teaching and advanced scientific training. Using the example of academic teaching it can be shown that different organizational structures and forms of governance lead to different perceptions of the organizational environment among its members. Again, distinct strategies of action of the actors lead to different outputs in academic teaching.
  • The Didactics of Engineering Education: The Engineering Education Research Group (EERG) aims to identify and develop novel research themes on teaching and learning in higher engineering education. Hence, we have initiated and participated in national and international collaborative projects with universities, enterprises, and associations as well as authorities for research funding. The EERG concentrates on the fields of teaching and learning in virtual environments, competency research, creativity research, laboratory education, vocational education, and transnational teaching.


Research grants and funded research projects performed by the chair of organizational studies, continuing education and social management

2017 - 2020 Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). "CHEFIN - Equal career development opportunities for women in the STEM field". 304,119 Euro for our subproject
2016 - 2019 Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). "Accompanying research to the funding line: Open Universities - Advancement through Education" 965,000 Euro for our subproject
2016 - 2020 Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). "Excellence in Teaching and Learning in the Engineering Sciences, Part 2 (ELLI 2)" 1,300,000 Euro for subproject
2013 - 2016 Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). "Transformational Governance of Academic Teaching (TeachGov)" 424,000 Euro
2011 - 2016 Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). "Excellence in Teaching and Learning in the Engineering Sciences, (ELLI)" 1,300,000 Euro for subproject
2013 - 2017 Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). "Assistance systems for demography-sensitive, plant-specific competency management for future production and logistics Systems (ABEKO)" 150,000 Euro for subproject
2012 - 2015 Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). "Modeling and developing competence, integrated IRT based and qualitative studies with a focus on mathematics and its usage in engineering studies (KoM@ING)" 210,000 Euro for subproject
2011 - 2015 National Academy of Science and Engineering (acatech). "The Laboratory within Engineering Education (IngLab)" 160,000 Euro for subproject
2012 - 2014 Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). "Universities as Enterprises (Uni:prise)" 250,000 Euro for subproject
2011 - 2013 Hans-Boeckler Foundation. "Knowledge transfer between work council members"  135,000 Euro
2010 - 2012 German Research Foundation (DFG). "Governance of academic teaching at universities of apllied sciences" 120,000 Euro
2009 - 2012 Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). "Supporting factors for lifelong learning at universities"  220,000 Euro
2008 - 2010 German Research Foundation (DFG). "New governance for academic teaching at German universities - which governance has impacts on professors' behavior" 120,000 Euro
2008 - 2010 Hans-Boeckler Foundation. "Paterns of expectations regarding worker's councils" 360,000 Euro
2007 - 2008 EU. "Education for interim staffing" 40,000 Euro
2007 - 2008 Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). "Development of a continuing education program between Germany and Hong Kong" 10,000 Euro
2006 - 2007 EU EQUAL-Program. "Nova.PE: Knowledge Management/Knowledge transfer for SME" 460,000 Euro
2005 - 2007 Ferderal Ministry of Economic and Work. "WINK: Knowledge management in networks" 140,000 Euro
2001 - 2003 Miistry of School, Education and Research  (NRW). "Governance of universities" 150,000 Euro
2000 - 2003 Hans-Boeckler Foundation. "Work councils and Knowledge Management" 170,000 Euro
1999 - 2004 Hans-Boeckler Foundation. Post graduate program "Innovation by and in organizations"


Description of some projects

Advancement through Education: Open Universities

On behalf of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) a consortium chaired by the FernUniversität in Hagen (University of Hagen), together with the Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg, the TU Dortmund University, and the Center for Higher Education (CHE) conduct a research project accompanying the qualification initiative “Advancement through Education: Open Universities”. 73 university projects which either aim at promoting innovative scientific training or intend to open up for non-traditional students are given advice and application-oriented scientific findings for a prosperous organization of the transparency of work and study.


The project funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) focuses on the research question: What is the influence of transformational governance on academic teaching?

Governance of Universities

Since several years German universities are undergoing more or less dramatic organizational change in different areas. The management of universities is moving towards the implementation of managerial governance structures: management by objectives, payment by performance etc. The question to be answered is: Which intended and unintended effects generated by modern managerial governance structures emerge on the micro-level of the scholars? [more information]

Empirical evidence is reported in the following articles:

Uwe Wilkesmann & Sabine Lauer (2015): What affects the teaching style of German professors? Evidence from two nationwide surveys. Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft 18 (4): 713-736.

Uwe Wilkesmann (2015): Imaginary contradictions of university governance. In: Welpe, M.; Wollersheim, J.; Ringelhan, S. & Osterloh, M. (eds.): Incentives and Performance - Governance of Research Organizations. Berlin: Springer: 189-205.

Uwe Wilkesmann & Christian J. Schmid (2014): Intrinsic and internalized modes of teaching motivation. Evidence-based HRM 2 (1): 6-27.

Uwe Wilkesmann & Christian J. Schmid (2012): The impacts of new governance on teaching at German universities - Findings from a national survey in Germany. Higher Education 63: 33-52.

Uwe Wilkesmann (2013): Effects of transactional and transformational governance on academic teaching - empirical evidence from two types of higher education institutions. Tertiary Education and Management 19 (4).


Knowledge Management

How can knowledge transfer be supported? We present a theoretical underpinning of knowledge transfer as a social dilemma situation in the following article:

Uwe Wilkesmann, Maximiliane Wilkesmann & Alfredo Virgillito (2009): The absence of cooperation is not necessarily defection: Structural and motivational constraints of knowledge transfer in a social dilemma situation. Organization Studies 30 (10): 1114-1164.

Maximiliane Wilkesmann & Uwe Wilkesmann (2011): Knowledge transfer as interaction between experts and novice supported by technology. VINE Journal of Information and Knowledge Management Systems 41 (2): 96-112.

Enterprises expect from the introduction of knowledge management visible improvement for the re-use of their institutional knowledge – also across companies´ and continents´ boundaries.

Uwe Wilkesmann, Heike Fischer & Maximiliane Wilkesmann (2009): Cultural characteristics of knowledge transfer. Journal of Knowledge Management 13 (6): 464-477.


Lifelong Learning

Success Factors of Life Long Learning Strategies at Universities

Founded by Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

In cooperation with Prof. Dr. Michael Kerres (University Duisburg-Essen) und Prof. Dr. Anke Hanft (University Oldenburg)

The project examines possibilities, chances and risks of universities against the background of the ongoing discussion of life long learning. [more information]

Uwe Wilkesmann, Heike Fischer & Alfredo Virgillito (2012): Academic motivation of students - The German case. dp Center for Higher Education, TU Dortmund, 02-2012.

Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Patterns of expectations regarding worker's councils

The main question of the project is: Whereof do patterns of expectations regarding worker's councils depend on? The specific characteristics of worker's councils in Germany and expectations in the context of dependent employment will presumably change the proposed definition of milieus.


Governance of Football Clubs

Another research topic is the development of soccer clubs. A coincidence of decission-making structures in soccer clubs and modern companies can be perceived.

Uwe Wilkesmann, Doris Blutner & Christian Müller (2011): German football: Organizing for the European top. In: Hallgeir Gammelsaeter & Benoit Senaux (eds.): The Organisation and Governance of Top Football across Europe. Routledge, pp. 138-153.

Uwe Wilkesmann & Doris Blutner (2002): Going Public: The organizational restructuring of German football clubs. Soccer & Society 3: 19-37.


Completed, former projects

  • nova.PE has been granted by the EU and aimed to promote the adaptability of SMEs by exploiting, promoting and transferring the available, but little used competence potential of older employees who will retire in the foreseeable future.
  • WINK has been granted by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology of Germany. The project team was composed of colleagues from the University of Dortmund , the Ruhr-University of Bochum and the Sozialforschungsstelle Dortmund. We developed a Knowledge Management Barometer. A Summary of the results is available for download in the Publication Section.
  • Knowledge Management in Small and Medium Sized Enterprises
  • Human Resource Development for older employees
  • Workers council and databased knowledge management: This project dealed with the questions of motivation, selective incentives and receptions of databased systems. Do people need selective incentives to contribute to databased systems? When do they use it? Which strategy should the workers council choose by implementation of such systems? For this project we cooperate with the following companies: Siemens, IBM, Deutsche Bahn, Perot Systems, BMW, Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe.
  • University reform project: This project explored the possibility of steering universitarian processes by monetary incentives.