Research project

Governing work in the knowledge-based economy

How we will work tomorrow is not only influenced by technological innovations but also by how we shape them. The rise of robots, artificial intelligence and platform firms challenges the existing instruments for regulating work and requires new answers. Part of our project is to conduct scoping studies to establish research gaps regarding the key trends of how digitalisation impacts the labour market.

The project focuses on:

  • Labour market trends driven by technology in the areas of employment, remuneration and qualifications;
  • The challenges of e-commerce;
  • The role of the platform economy for the re-regulation of employment relations and business models;
  • Recent approaches to labour regulation.

The project is structured around four thematic work packages:

  1. Automation and inequality: The effects of digital transformation on employment have been widely addressed and discussed. However, the effects on wages remain highly controversial among labour economists. In this work package, we place a special focus on the differences between the US, European and German discussions. Our scoping study identifies the causes and conditions of the different developments in both Germany and the US and utilises expert interviews to validate these assessments. Our project partner for this work package is Laura Tyson from UC Berkeley.
  2. E-commerce, retail and logistics: E-commerce is a key driver of the ongoing restructuring of retail and logistics. The reorganisation of online and offline distribution channels and new customer expectations have transformed retail, logistics and e-commerce towards a digital ecosystem. In this work package, we are exploring the ways in which e-commerce affected employment conditions in retail and logistics as well as the impacts of new technologies on process innovation and on restructuring of logistics, retail and e-commerce. Our project partner for this work package is Markus Helfen from FU Berlin.

  3. Platform firms: Our understanding of the role of platforms for workers and companies is still limited to the gig economy. In this work package, we are looking at the evolution of platform firms and the indirect effects of the entry of platform firms into the business models of established firms. Our project partners for this work package are John Zysman, UC Berkeley and Martin Kenney, UC Davis.

  4. Social partnership in the digital age: Pessimistic expectations regarding the potential upheavals in labour markets driven by technological innovations may spawn radical scenarios regarding the restructuring of social security systems and the regulation of labour in the digital age. In this work package we are investigating the perspective of the social partners in designing technology-driven innovations and possible new forms of governance of work. Our project partner for this work package is Wolfgang Schröder from Kassel University.


Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs



15 December 2019 - 15 December 2021



  • Prof. John Zysman, PhD, Emeritus UC Berkeley
  • Prof. Laura Tyson, PhD, UC Berkeley
  • Prof. Martin Kenney, PhD, UC Davis
  • Prof. Dr. Wolfgag Schroeder, Universität Kassel and WZB
  • Prof. Dr. Markus Helfen, Universität Innsbruck

Project lead


  • Didem Özkiziltan, Postdoctoral Researcher

  • Felix Sieker, Research Associate

  • Rachel Griffin, Research Associate

  • Killian Weil, Research Associate