Identity in times of change - principles of socially sustainably leadership and interaction in organisations

Project staff:
Sylke Meyerhuber

06/2018 - consecutive


The paradigm of sustainability aims for a relatively fair balance of three components, the ecological, economic, and social (recently fourth: the cultural); in light of political and organisational operational objectives. In practice, companies as the global drivers have influence on these three areas of issue and action. In them, an imbalance to the disadvantage of people can be increasingly observed. Humane working conditions are even by law not warranted. About half of the German employees ask for early retirement, while statistically the physical and psychological ailments increase. Law enforced programmes as occupational health management as well as self-commitments like Corporate Social Responsibility aim for the strengthening of organisational and managerial responsibility. Nevertheless, this seems not enough to ensure the wellbeing and health at the work place on a statistically higher rate. For the individual, daily work experiences must be processed in a way that makes wellbeing and health possible within the dynamic of the postmodernity. Directly related to everyday life at the workplace, mindful work and mindful interaction are tasks of superiors on all levels.

Organisations find themselves, driven by economic reasoning, under pressure of permanent change and re-organisation. This demands that people working in these organisations cope with the ongoing change. How organised and mindful does change occur, how are parties concerned with these changes supported in their re-elaboration and re-appropriation, and what hinders constructive coping? From the perspective of social psychology and the psychology of work and organisation, this project examines such issues with a qualitative and subject-oriented research angle. The emergent dynamic of the changes of objective conditions and the changes within people are evaluated, understanding identity as a key element. If the organisation undergoes change, this impacts the roles, tasks and work load, the motivation and loyalties, the identity and wellbeing and health of employees. The project addresses these dynamics with occupational biographies and scenarios of re-organisation, analysing especially phases of upheavals, fracture points and status passages, like premature retirement, health-induced changes of the workplace, generational or cultural diversity in a team, etc. By practise examples, the dialectic of objective conditions at the work place and the subjective options of experience, reflection, processing and coping can be understood.

Scientific insight gained by the project culminates successively into publications, reflecting on the theoretical as well as the empirical evidence. Systematically objective circumstances as well as group-related and individual behaviour in their emergent relatedness are taken into account. Indicators for socially sustainably leadership and mindful interaction practises in organisations are derived. Beside publication, findings are presented in expert workshops and presentations as well as in university teaching and learning.

Project coordinator

Sylke Meyerhuber


University of Bremen
Sustainability Research Center
Enrique-Schmidt-Str. 7
28359 Bremen

Phone: +49 (0) 421 / 218-61852
Fax: +49 (0) 421/ 218-9861852
E-Mail: meyerhuberprotect me ?!uni-bremenprotect me ?!.de