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Finished PhD programs

Lene Baumgart (2024)

Doctorate within the scope of the project Organisationale Implikationen der Digitalisierung

Based on the observation that current digitalization research recognizes the ambivalence of digitalization but does not make it the subject of its analyses, Lene Baumgart's dissertation focuses on the ambivalent dichotomy of potentials and problems associated with digital transformations of organizations. Along six publications, the tense dichotomy with regard to three ambivalent relationships is shown with a system-theoretical view of organizations.
Firstly, in terms of the relationship between digitalization and post-bureaucracy, it becomes clear that digital transformations have the potential to facilitate post-bureaucratic ways of working. At the same time, the problem arises that post-bureaucratic structures based on consensus make digitalization initiatives more difficult, as they are dependent on a large number of decisions.
Secondly, the ambivalent relationship between digitalization and networking shows that, on the one hand, organization-wide cooperation is made possible, while, on the other hand, the risk of digital contradictory communication arises. 
The third relationship between digitalization and gender indicates the potential for gender inclusion associated with new digital technologies, while at the same time the problem of programmed gender biases increases, which often exacerbate discrimination.
The juxtaposition of potentials and problems not only makes it possible to analyse and understand the ambivalence of organizational digitalization, it also shows that digital transformations are accompanied by a double formalization: organizations are not only confronted with the usual adjustments to formal structures for reforms, but must also make formal decisions on technology introduction and retention and establish formal solutions to react to unforeseen potentials and problems. The aim of Lene Baumgart's dissertation is to provide an analytically generalized heuristic that can be used to identify the achievements and opportunities of digital transformations, while at the same time explaining their relationship to the challenges and consequential problems that arise simultaneously.


Marcel Häßler (2022)

The Police from the Perspective of Afghan Police Officers – A Shift in Perspective

How do Afghan police officers define good policing? Marcel Haessler's work addresses this question by examining an Afghan perspective on the organization of the police through narrative biographical interviews with Afghan police officers.

The Afghan police force is widely regarded as a dysfunctional organization. After nearly two decades of massive investments in materials, personnel, structures, and processes, the Afghan police is perceived as a burden by the population and international observers. Upon closer examination, it becomes clear that this is not a structural issue but rather a cultural problem that extends far beyond the organizational framework of the police. The culturally conditioned understanding of 'good' policing from the perspective of Afghan police officers reveals overlaps, but also contrasts and ambiguities, with a 'Western' police perspective. These often hidden cultural perceptual differences, as well as contrasting attributions of meaning, lead to misunderstandings among the Afghan population, international donors, and within the Afghan police force. This work aims to elucidate interpretive patterns in police culture of Afghan police officers through a deliberate focus on the smallest geographical organizational unit of the Afghan police, the police district, and narrative interviews with police officers.


Judith Muster (2020)

Limits of Organizability: Studies on the Practical Relevance of Organizational Sociology

How can organizational sociology meet the demands of societal critique, maintaining critical distance and reflection, while remaining relevant to practice? Judith Muster's dissertation addresses this question by confronting current and significant management issues, exploring the challenges of digitization and datafication in organizations, the dynamics of leadership and hierarchy, and the relationship between organizational consulting and organizational sociology. The empirical framework is research on the implementation of post-bureaucratic organizational models in companies.

In her work, Judith Muster engages with a core question of the organizational sociology community: how can we develop contributions that are relevant to practice without compromising the standards of scientific research?

The presented work comprises five contributions. Two focus on leadership, one on datafication, one on organizational consulting, and a final one addresses methodological issues in the organizational sociological study of management trends. Additionally, there is a cumulus that centralizes the theory-practice problem of organizational sociology, bringing together the individual contributions.


Shelan Ali Arf (2019)

Women's Everyday Reality of Social Insecurity The Case of Single Divorced Women in Iraqi Kurdistan

Shelan Ali Arf's dissertation delves into the social situation of divorced women in Iraqi Kurdistan. In Kurdish society, women are subordinate to the family, particularly male family members, and are thereby legally, socially, and economically disadvantaged. This especially affects the circumstances of single women, with divorced women facing the most difficult situation. In response, the Kurdish Parliament has strengthened women's rights regarding divorce, custody, and child support. However, deeply ingrained traditional norms and beliefs about marriage and the role of women starkly contradict these changed legal rules.

The growing contradictions between traditional culture and the cautious modernization of the law, given the fact of the politically and economically challenging situation in Iraqi Kurdistan, have led to an increase in domestic violence, a greater number of so-called honor killings of women, and a significant rise in the suicide rate among women (particularly an increase in self-immolation), as well as a higher divorce rate.

Given this context, the aim of the work is to delineate the everyday lives of divorced Kurdish women, uncovering the forms of social insecurity they must navigate, their positions within the family and society, and in this context, elucidating the coping strategies developed by women in response to these uncertainties.

Shelan Ali Arf's dissertation deals with different types of insecurities that divorced women face in Iraqi Kurdistan. Divorced women are stigmatized in the Kurdish society and live in very difficult circumstances simply because they are divorced. Many women specifically divorced women found them-selves living in a patriarchal society, and challenging different difficulties such as social as well as economic situations. Thus the divorced women in Iraqi Kurdistan are the focus of this research.

A constructivist grounded theory methodology (CGT) is viewed as reliable in order to come up with a comprehensive picture about the everyday life of divorced women in Iraqi Kurdistan. Data collected in Sulaimani city in Iraqi Kurdistan. The work of Kathy Charmaz was chosen to be the main methodological context of the research and the main data collection method was individual intensive narrative interviews with divorced women.

The research showed that in spite that divorced women living in insecurities and facing difficulties but most of the respondents try to find a coping strategies to tackle difficult situations and to deal with the violence they face;  these strategies are bargaining, sometimes compromising or resisting …etc. Different theories used to explain these coping strategies such as bargaining with patriarchy. Kandiyoti.  The research finding also revealed that the western liberal feminist view of agency is limited this is agree with Saba Mahmood  and what she explained about Muslim women agency. For  the respondents , who are divorced women, their agency reveals itself in different ways, in  resisting or compromising with or even obeying the power of male relatives, and the normative system in the society. Agency is also explained the behaviour of women contacting formal state institutions in cases of violence like the police or Offices of combating violence against woman and family.


Max Oliver Schmidt (2019)

(An English translation will follow soon.)

Umkämpftes Asyl. Seenotrettung und Kirchenasyl als organisationale Strategien zur Usurpation des EU-Grenzregimes und zwischengesellschaftlicher Schließungssysteme

Der inhaltliche Ausgangspunkt dieser Dissertation ist der gefährliche Weg, den Geflüchtete aus Krisenregionen nach Europa auf sich nehmen und den damit verbundenen Strapazen und Risiken. Dem gegenüber stehen die Aufnahme- und Verfahrensregeln, die sich die EU gesetzt hat und die die Mitgliedsländer umsetzen sollen. Die EU versucht einerseits Menschenrechtskonventionen anzuerkennen, andererseits sind ihre Mitgliedsstaaten daran interessiert, die Zahl an zu verarbeitenden Asylverfahren möglichst gering zu halten. Es stehen sich also zunächst zwei Akteursgruppen gegenüber: Zum einen die EU-Mitgliedsstaaten, die jenseits der regulären Asylverfahren vorgelagerte Exklusionsbarrieren aufbauen und so den Zugang zum Asylverfahren erschweren wollen. Auf der anderen Seite stehen die Geflüchteten, die versuchen, die Exklusion zu überwinden und dazu Strategien entwickeln, um sich den Zugang zu erkämpfen. Diese asymmetrische Dyade wird aber seit Jahrzehnten durch Organisationen erweitert und verändert, die die Geflüchteten unterstützen: Menschenrechtsorganisationen, Seenotretterorganisationen im Mittelmeer und Kirchenorganisationen. Es entsteht also eine Triade, die den Kampf um das Asylverfahren deutlich verändert.

In seiner Dissertation verknüpft Max Oliver Schmidt die politische Soziologie zum Themenfeld sozialer Schließung und Migration und die Organisationssoziologie und zeigt auf welche Rolle Organisationen in der Auseinandersetzung um Schließung oder Öffnung des EU-Grenzregimes spielen und wie sie die Schließungssysteme verändern. Damit setzt er mit seiner empirisch ausgerichteten und zugleich eminent theoretisch fundierten Arbeit, bei den jeweiligen blinden Flecken beider soziologischen Disziplinen an, deckt diese auf und füllt die bestehenden Lücken. Zudem legt  Schmidt in seiner Dissertation eine Studie zu zwei bisher noch wenig bearbeiteten Themen vor: der Seenotrettung und des Kirchenasyls.


Stefanie Büchner (2016)

Organizational Perspectives on Casework in the Field of Social Assistance

In her dissertation, Stefanie Büchner develops a conceptual framework rooted in organizational sociology, using the empirical subject of case processing in the context of social services. The author analyses three central challenges of organized case processing in the field of social assistance: coproduction, individual case specificity under conditions of high uncertainty, and highly fragile legitimacy.

Building on Luhmann's "Function and Consequences of Formal Organization," the author's perspective is based on a "strong concept of organization" that understands “organizations as formalized social systems”. This creates a foundation to structure the experiences and actions of the organization both indirectly through the formalization of normatively generalized behaviour expectations and to conceptually depict the informal structuring of experiences and actions accurately. Through this perspective, Büchner systematically elucidates how organization, as a form of order in the double sense, is constitutive for the processing of case: as an empirical ground and analytical horizon.

The dissertation is based on a comparative qualitative study of three youth welfare services (Jugendämter). It discusses core aspects in which organization rather than professional norms structure casework. Regarding the challenge of coproduction of casework, Büchner outlines four ideal-typical solutions to the challenges social workers face as border-spanning units (Grenzstellen).  Simultaneously, she reconstructs various paths of informal expectation stabilization that extend far beyond the individual case and contribute substantially to the discussion on formality and informality. The study further discusses the challenge of “switching” between the orientation of help and that of one-sided intervention. In contrast to interpretations assuming a copresence and recalibration of both orientations in daily case work, she argues that from an organizational perspective, it is much more likely to assume a general orientation of help towards parents. Such a general orientation is much more challenging to change to an orientation of one-sided intervention than assumed with concepts of a mixture or balance of help and intervention.

The empirical exploration of the challenge of individual case specificity under conditions of uncertainty also yields further results and research questions regarding the issue of the (in)effectiveness of standards. Büchner goes beyond the commonly held thesis in the field, which suggests that deviations from standards are not simply the result of local adaptation and translation processes. Rather, with her expanded four-stream-heuristic, she shows that the effectiveness of standards depends on the appropriate or inappropriate configuration of standards and the local (professional) norms. The empirical investigation of the challenge of fragile legitimacy offers a range of further insights for the debate on organizational artefacts, the status of documents, and the loose coupling between formal and activity structure.


Nathalie Hirschmann (2015)

Security Service Provider between Professionalization Efforts and Professionalization Facade – A Professional Sociological and Neo-Institutionalist Inspired Analysis of Commercial Security

The security industry has a history of over 100 years, yet it is only with the advent of neoliberal urban policies, the privatization of public spaces, and the transition from disciplinary to control societies that its presence has become an almost taken-for-granted part of the cityscape and a cooperation partner for the police. This is possible because formal vocational training is not required in order to find employment or to set up a security company. Due to the increase in providers of commercial security services and the resulting stronger competition among them, individual firms are under immense price pressure. What initially facilitated the spread of the security industry thus becomes a challenge.

Nathalie Hirschmann addresses in her dissertation the professionalization attempt of the industry. A separate association was founded, vocational training programs were created, and academic courses were established. Although this does not turn the industry into a profession, if the strategy of professionalization and institutionalization succeeds, the industry can reduce competition within itself, close the market to other providers, and thus exert greater control over prices. However, the industry mainly remains rooted in the low-cost sector. While the industry has partially addressed the dilemma of professionalization and market closure intentions and a policy of low prices by introducing certification, vocational training, and academic degrees, it has not been fully resolved as the majority of companies still employ primarily unskilled and   cheap staff.

The dissertation is based on an empirical study independently developed, conducted, and evaluated by Nathalie Hirschmann and emerged in connection with the research project "Kooperative Sicherheitspolitik in der Stadt – KoSiPol". Nathalie Hirschmann traces the key processes in the development of the security industry and highlights the dilemmas of this sector and the particular tension between police and private service providers.


Norma Möllers (2015)

Research in the context of video surveillance – Academic research between science, politics, and the public

Norma Tamaria Möllers completed her cumulative doctoral thesis in connection with the research project " MuVit - Mustererkennung und Videotracking – sozialpsychologische, soziologische, ethische und rechtliche Analysen”, which was funded by the BMBF as part of the security research program. Her research interest focuses on forms of scientific knowledge production in application-oriented research projects and their effects on processes of technologization. She investigates this topic using the example of the research project, in which an automated video surveillance system was developed.

The core of the dissertation consists of an ethnographic study of the special framework conditions and the resulting action problems that arise for the research group. The framework arises from conflicting expectations of government, science, and the public.

Furthermore, Möllers analyzes the fact that although the research group did not develop a functioning surveillance system, they were able to largely secure their own reputation. She addresses this particularly in the last essay of her dissertation, "Shifting in and out of context. Technoscientific drama as technology of the self."

In the first article of her thesis, Möllers presents the research of the last 10 years on video surveillance and highlights the ambivalence prevailing in the population regarding the topic. In her second essay, co-authored with Hälterlein ("Privacy issues in public discourse: The Case of 'smart' CCTV in Germany"), Möllers examines the public discourse on automated video surveillance.

The article by Möllers, Hälterlein, and Spies ("S ubjektivierung als Artikulation diskursiver Ordnungen. Zur Aneignung von Subjektpositionen im Kontext der Entwicklung automatisierter Videoüberwachung") explores how discourses are reflected in the subject positions of the researchers.