Main content

The research unit was established in 2008 to address cultural factors that favor creativity as well as cultural conditions under which newness is recognized and valued. The research is thus intended to complement the work of scholars who focus on the technical and institutional prerequisites of innovation.

In developing the research program, the strategic choice was made to draw on multiple disciplinary perspectives, including economic sociology, cultural economics, organizational development, cultural anthropology, political science and urban studies. The empirical cases of the projects concentrate on technical, social, artistic or organizational innovations, and they focus on cultural configurations shaping artistic scenes, expert communities or urban quarters.

The research team undertook interviews, participant observation and action research in very diverse settings of collaboration between multiple actors in fields like automobile development, product design, business consultancy, and municipal/public issues in order to generate a deep and wide-ranging understanding of the phenomena. Such qualitative methods were supplemented with the creation of data bases, for example on artistic interventions and on architectural competitions.

The research program was flanked by a bridging project on"Cultural framing effects in experimental game theory"in cooperation with the WZB research unit "Market Behavior," and the project "Studying the Changing Orders of Political Expertise in Germany, Great Britain and the US (SCOPE)" funded by the Volkswagen Foundation.

The research program terminated at the end of 2014. As a result of the projects, five performative patterns in the emergence of newness were identified: 1) Bordering spaces and environments 2) Suspending rules and routines 3) Curating contributions and circumstances 4) Translating forms of value 5) Valuating novelties.