Work focuses on new technologies that are deemed to have a large potential to change existing technical, economic, and social structures and to reach objectives relevant to society. These technologies, that are often referred to as key technologies, are studied with regard to the conditions of their emergence and the intended and unintended consequences of their wide application. Only on by addressing research and technology development as social processes, conclusions can be drawn regarding effects and possibilities to influence the development of technologies.
Techniques, technical products, and processes do not develop independently, but result from interactions among various actors (researchers and developers, political decision-makers, and entrepreneurs, users), who interact in all phases of the innovation process and in changing constellations. At any point of the technology development, real and anticipated technology effects may become problematic, generate a demand for orientation knowledge and action options, and influence the decision criteria of the actors.
Research activities relating to the cross-cutting issue of Innovation Processes and Technology Design consequently are in the tradition of technology assessment and foresight. They aim at identifying:
- Structural patterns of and factors influencing innovation processes, especially regarding intended and unintended effects of the technology.
- social processes of generation and design of new technologies, including the role of technology visions, discourses and media
- relationships between technical inventions and social innovation processes (in terms of non-economic, e.g. cultural and social factors), and
- methodologies for the early detection of impacts of technologies.
The scientific results are relevant both to disciplinary and interdisciplinary discourses on technology assessment and to policy advice and consultation.