New Article in RSO: Striving for societal impact as an early-career researcher

Heroic, non-heroic and post-heroic perspective on societal impact (Source: Friesike et al., 2021)

When we think about societal impact of researchers, we mostly have prominent senior scholars in mind. In an article forthcoming in Research in the Sociology of Organizations (RSO), Sascha Friesike, Maximilian Heimstaedt and I have taken a different focus and reflected on “Striving for societal impact as an early-career researcher”. Before we arrive at our post-heroic perspective on impact (see Figure above), we discuss 5 common concerns early-career researchers commonly struggle with when considering impact work.

Concern #1: Do I even have time for this? Isn’t it “publish or perish”?

We argue that it is not all about trade-offs. Impact work may substantially contribute to publishing efforts, e.g., by opening up access to the field or by helping to recognize new phenomena.

Concern #2: Should I focus on impact activities that count / are counted?

What is true for the Journal Impact Factor, is true for Altmetrics, as well: “when a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure” (Strathern rephrasing Goodhart’s law). In our paper, we discuss three primary reasons why Altmetrics should not guide impact work:

  • Altmetrics measure attention, not impact
  • Not all impact work is (meant to be) visible if it should best serve the cause
  • Spillover effects (e.g., to teaching) are hardly captured by Altmetrics

Concern #3: Are my findings too incremental when compared to iconic concepts?

When engaging in impact work, you do – and should – not only draw on your “own” incremental contributions. Making those contributions requires to have an overview of an entire field. Draw from the fullest!

Concern #4: My findings are not actionable – so how are they useful?

Impact is much more than coming up with “plug ‘n’ play” management tools (actually, applying those is often the worst kind of impact work). In our paper, we refer to Nicolai & Seidl’s (2010) distinction between three different ways that academic research can be useful for practitioners:

  • Instrumental relevance: e.g., help in decision-making
  • Conceptual relevance: e.g., new metaphors or uncovering contingencies
  • Legitimative relevance: e.g., when founding new ventures

Concern #5: What if I say something wrong (and get a bad reputation)?

Sadly, depending on the researcher’s subjective position, this is the most serious of the five concerns in this list. Not because of reputation but because of harassment issues (see, e.g., Ferber 2018)

How to address harassment concerns? Try to choose a stage, where you feel comfortable, depending on your own preferences. And sometimes, one’s own impact work may consist of giving advice on who else to ask.

With respect to reputation issues, we recommend following the example set by Joan Jett:

For details on the concerns mentioned in this thread and ideas on how to deal with them, check out the pre-print of the article at SocArxiv.

This post is based upon a Twitter thread.

WDR-Dokumentation “Der Kaufhauskönig” über Tiroler Immo-Milliardär René Benko

Die WDR-Journalisten Ingolf Gritschneder und Georg Wellmann haben eine knapp einstündige Dokumentation mit dem Titel “Der Kaufhauskönig” über Aufstieg und Geschäftspraktiken des Tiroler Immobilienunternehmers René Benko gedreht. Sie wurde Anfang der Woche in der ARD ausgestrahlt und ist jetzt in der ARD-Mediathek abrufbar.

Gegen Ende hin durfte ich kurze O-Töne mit einer Einschätzung zur Bilanz von Benkos “Signa Prime Selection AG” beisteuern, im Moment Magazin habe ich die Ergebnisse meiner Analyse etwas ausführlicher festgehalten. Hintergrund für meine Befragung ist meine Forschung gemeinsam mit Sebastian Botzem zu finanzialisierten Geschäftsmodellen in der Immobilienbranche.

“Message control” or “frank speech” as a response to Corona crises management?

An essay by Richard Weiskopf

The success of the “measures” proposed by the government to contain and control the Corona virus depends to a large extent on the willingness of the population to go along with these “measures.” This willingness is contingent on a variety of factors. In this post, I pick out one factor that has a significant influence: the communication behavior of the government, or the communicative relations between the governed and the governed. I would like to briefly introduce two different models and put them up for discussion: that of strategic communication and that of frank speech.

Strategic communication and message control

In political and organizational communication, “strategic communication” is often offered as the means of choice when it comes to implementing “measures” efficiently. This model recommends that organizations and governments communicate strategically to various stakeholders. Messages and news that the organization/government sends out should be clearly structured, formulated uniformly and without contradiction, and sent out with the aid of suitable media.

In terms of communication theory, this idea is based on the classic sender-receiver model developed by the mathematicians Shannon and Weaver in the USA in the 1940s. The aim here was to explore how a message defined by a sender can be transported to a receiver in an efficient manner.

Continue reading ““Message control” or “frank speech” as a response to Corona crises management?”

New Article: “Dis/organising visibilities: Governmentalisation and counter-transparency”

I have published an article in the journal Organization entitled “Dis/organising visibilities: Governmentalisation and counter-transparency”. The article uses the case of Edward Snowden for developing a critical concept of organizational transparency. Here is abstract and link to the article:

This paper situates organisational transparency in an agonistic space that is shaped by the interplay of ‘mechanisms of power that adhere to a truth’ and critical practices that come from below in a movement of ‘not being governed like that and at that cost’ (Foucault, 2003: 265). This positioning involves an understanding of transparency as a practice that is historically contingent and multiple, and thus negotiable and contested. By illustrating the entanglement of ‘power through transparency’ and ‘counter-transparency’ with reference to the example of Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing, the paper contributes to the critique of transparency and to debates on the use of Foucauldian concepts in post-panoptic contexts of organising. By introducing the notion of ‘counter-transparency’, the paper expands the conceptual vocabulary for understanding the politics and ethics of managing and organising visibility.

Please check out the open access article here.

Interview zu Meme-Stocks im Deutschlandfunk: Der Mythos von selbstorganisierten Davids gegen Goliath

Source: Michael Rivera, CC-BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

In den letzten beiden Wochen gab es einigen Erklärungsbedarf rund um sprunghafte Kursanstiege von zuvor niedrig bewerteten Aktien wie jener der Firma GameStop in den USA. Die Erzählung dahinter war, dass sich Kleinanleger:innen in Online-Foren (z.B. im Reddit-Forum #WallStreetBets) erfolgreich gegen große institutionelle Investoren wie Hedgefonds zusammengeschlossen hätten. Eine schöne Geschichte der Selbstorganisation vieler kleiner Davids, die mit Hilfe neuer Werkzeuge wie Foren und Trading-Apps (die noch dazu Namen wie “Robinhood” haben). Leider ist an dieser Geschichte kaum etwas dran.

Continue reading “Interview zu Meme-Stocks im Deutschlandfunk: Der Mythos von selbstorganisierten Davids gegen Goliath”

Medienauftritte zu Wikipedias 20. Geburtstag: Podcasts bis ARD-Tagesthemen

Source: Screenshot

Am 15. Januar 2021 feierte mit der Wikipedia ein historischer Glücksfall einer gemeinnützigen, kostenlosen und werbefreien Wissenssammlung 20. Geburtstag. Da ich mich ungefähr seit 2006 wissenschaftlich (z.B. auch in meiner Antrittsvorlesung hier an der Uni Innsbruck) und bloggend mit der freien Online-Enzyklopädie beschäftige, haben mich aus diesem Anlass einige Medienanfragen erreicht. Im folgende eine kurze Zusammenschau.

Video des Podcast-Gesprächs mit Markus Beckedahl von

Contributing to the Debate on “Surveillance Capitalism”

Recently I was invited to contribute to the debate on emerging forms of surveillance society:

Surveillance capitalism technologies are “polyvalent” and can be used for different purposes: they can facilitate an intensification of (state) surveillance, or they can protect privacy and anonymity (for example, facial recognition technology is a surveillance technology, but it can also be used to protect iPhone owners, as the New York Times reported recently in the case of the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests).

Check out my full contribution here.

Zu Gast bei Corona-Videocast “Ars Boni” von Nikolaus Forgó und in Ö1 Doublecheck

Nikolaus Forgó ist Professor für Technologie- und Immaterialgüterrecht und Vorstand des Instituts für Innovation und Digitalisierung im Recht an der Universität Wien. Im Rahmen einer Videocast-Reihe auf YouTube unter dem Titel “Ars Boni” durfte ich kürzlich mit ihm über eine gute Stunde über die Schnittstelle von Wissenschaft, Politik und Öffentlichkeit in Zeiten der Corona-Pandemie sprechen.

Am selben Tag ausgestrahlt wurde außerdem die jüngste Folge des Ö1-Medianmagazins #Doublecheck, zu der ich auch O-Töne beisteuern durfte:

Continue reading “Zu Gast bei Corona-Videocast “Ars Boni” von Nikolaus Forgó und in Ö1 Doublecheck”

From blind dis/obedience to responsible organizing?

Photo Credit: Pete Linforth

By Richard Weiskopf

On my way home, I often pass a café, which displays an anarchistic saying in its show window: “Even more dangerous than the virus is blind obedience”. There is much about this saying that is correct and important. Much has been written and researched about “blind obedience” and its dangers. “I have only done my duty” – many “obedient” perpetrators have used this justification formula in an attempt to evade responsibility or to justify their own moral failure. But just as dangerous as “blind obedience” is “blind disobedience”. When one thinks of the various so-called “Querdenker” who today protest and defend themselves against the “restrictions” and “coercive measures” of the government in the context of managing the Corona crises, this becomes very clear. One must fear the “blind disobedience” at least as much as the “blind obedience”.

So perhaps the distinction between obedience and disobedience is not the core of the problem, but rather the blindness that is associated with them. Blindness – as a metaphor for the unreflected reaction to some impulse – is the problem.

Continue reading “From blind dis/obedience to responsible organizing?”

LehrePlus!-Preis 2020 für den Kurs “Organizing in Times of Crisis: The Case of Covid19”

Alle zwei Jahre werden an der Universität Innsbruck Preise für exzellente Lehre vergeben. Und angesichts von insgesamt 44 hochkarätigen Einreichungen freut es mich ganz besonders, dieses Jahr den Hauptpreis erhalten zu haben – und zwar für den mit Elke Schüßler von der Universität Linz gemeinsam konzipierten Kurs “Organizing in Times of Crisis: The Case of Covid19”. Vielen Dank auch an alle anderen, die zum Gelingen des Kurses beigetragen haben!

Continue reading “LehrePlus!-Preis 2020 für den Kurs “Organizing in Times of Crisis: The Case of Covid19””