Research Professorship in Sustainability Oriented Innovation and Transformation Management (NIT)

The Nuremberg Campus of Technology (NCT) is a research institution run by the Nuremberg Institute of Technology (THN) in cooperation with the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU). The NCT specialisation Technology, Economics and Society is represented here on the part of Nuremberg Tech by the Research Professorship in Sustainability Oriented Innovation and Transformation Management (NCT-NIT), run by Prof. Frank Ebinger.

Prof. Ebinger and his team are, firstly, investigating the mostly complex societal and social processes involved in the introduction of new technologies, institutional regulations and organisational approaches as a prerequisite for the success of sustainable transformation. The question here is how to create the right environment for sustainability-oriented innovations, while at the same time increasing social acceptance of the dissemination of technological solutions. Secondly, the team is researching how social innovations and initiatives for sustainable development that come from within society itself can be strengthened and supported. This research focuses particularly on civil society organisations and grass-roots movements, which are characterised by a variety of socio-ecological initiatives and objectives, and which thus practise forms of sustainable transformation in everyday life.

The professorship addresses the research questions of development, diffusion and adaptation of sustainability innovations and transformations with the aid of methods from qualitative research and an action research approach. The team is particularly interested in the conceptual bridge between technologically innovative solutions, social and ecological requirements and necessities, and economic rationalities. This way, social transformation processes can be supported on both a theoretical and practical level.

The NCT-NIT team

For its implementation, the ambitious objective of the sustainable innovation and transformation research carried out by the NCT-NIT requires the linking of interdisciplinary research fields on the basis of sociological methods. The broad thematic direction of the researchers is reflected in their respective competences from their socio-ecological, technological and business management training and project experience. The team currently consists of one professor and 3 research associates who are also working towards their doctorate, as well as 3 student assistants. In addition, Ethiopian doctorate students join the team each year for six months and are supervised by Professor Ebinger within the framework of their DAAD-sponsored scholarships.

Current projects

One part of Professor Ebinger’s team is currently researching transparency in value chains in companies and the sustainability potential of digital solutions. In addition, questions of growth in relation to negative socio-ecological consequences represent an area of research which deals particularly with organisational implications and approaches to change. Within the discursive field of post-growth and the international Degrowth movement, the focus is primarily on alternative forms of organisation and work. A further part of the team is participating in the research project “Future Engineering”, which is conducted in cooperation between the Nuremberg Institute of Technology (THN) and the Fraunhofer Working Group for Supply Chain Services (SCS). Its objective is to produce data-based anticipation of company-specific future scenarios on the basis of Big Data analyses.

The research range of the NCT-NIT is based on the following 4 specialisations: