The research course deals with the methodology and practice of qualitative expert interviews in innovation research. Expert interviews, with their focus on obtaining specific information, have established themselves for some time as a significant methodological tool in innovation research. Especially in the context of case studies, they are used in semi-structured form in order to gain usable information about aspects such as process characteristics and procedures, institutional constellations, or political support strategies of technological innovation. Against this background, the research course aims at practicing the preparation, execution and evaluation of qualitative expert interviews. The regional innovation system of the FrankfurtRheinMain metropolitan region serves as the corresponding research field. Within the framework of the expert interviews, the following questions concerning the innovation system of the FrankfurtRheinMain metropolitan region will be pursued in particular: How are innovation-oriented cooperative relationships between companies, universities and research institutions organized? What patterns of knowledge-based business start-ups are discernible in the region? Which political-institutional strategies of innovation-oriented regional development can be traced?
The research course “Case Studies in Technology Assessment” deals with the use of the case study method in researching the societal impact of technological innovations. Technology assessment and impact research examines the economic, social, environmental, and political consequences of new technologies as well as their general social acceptance to help shape political decisions on technology and innovation promotion. In the sense of a systematic technology assessment, the analytical focus is on the economic logic, social structuring, institutional embedding, and political shaping of technological change. This perspective refers in particular to paradigmatic technologies that are capable of fundamentally permeating and structurally changing economy and society. One example is the controversially discussed application of information technologies subsumed under the heading of “artificial intelligence.” The societal consequences of artificial intelligence serve as empirical subject areas for the research course. The related methodological approach refers to the case study method, which aims at reconstructing actor constellations and contextual conditions in change processes. Regarding the technological consequences of artificial intelligence dealt with in the research course, technological application possibilities, legal-institutional framework conditions as well as economic, political, and social consequences are to be examined.
The research course “Sociology of Entrepreneurship” deals with the research topic of conceptual and empirical approaches to the economic-sociological phenomenon of the founding and management of firms, especially in the field of knowledge-intensive industries. This phenomenon of knowledge-based entrepreneurial start-ups is seen as a decisive component of the technological and organizational dynamics of market economies. The genuinely sociological approach to the phenomenon of entrepreneurship usually starts with the individual motives and modes of action of entrepreneurial actors. This is accompanied by an analytical interest in the forms of social networking and institutional embedding that shape the establishment of new enterprises. In this sense, the course will first trace relevant theoretical positions on the phenomenon of entrepreneurship. Subsequently, methods of qualitative social research are introduced that can be used to analyse these relationships appropriately. The focus is on the method of case study research. The formulation of a suitable research design with corresponding questions and hypotheses serves as the basis for the collection of information and data, which then enables the formulation of a case study based on individual cases or small numbers of cases. Entrepreneurial start-up activities from different clusters and industries in Frankfurt am Main serve as the empirical object.