We examine digitalisation’s consequences

The key research topics at the bidt are ‘Germany and Europe in digital competition’, ‘ethics and law in digitalisation’, ‘power of opinion in digital change’, ‘digital economies’ along with ‘human-machine collaboration and digital work environments’.

With their interdisciplinary approach, bidt’s internal and promoted projects are undertaking research into the consequences of digital transformation.

Internal Projects
Promoted projects
Think tank projects


All projects


The process of digital transformation generates a number of ethical and legal questions. The research project identifies and classifies the arguments put forth in this context in the legislative process in order to subject them to a comprehensive ethical and legal evaluation. In addition, the aim is to identify any gaps in the arguments in order to help rationalise the debate. Furthermore, the project intends to identify the preconditions for successful interdisciplinary cooperation between law-making, legal studies and ethics in the field of digitalisation. 

Principal investigators:

The main focus of the project lies on the subjects of digitised (Internet-supported) communication and digitised medicine and on questions of responsibility and liability in human-machine collaborations.

Principal investigators:

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Julian Nida-Rümelin (LMU/bidt)
Prof. Dr. Dr. Eric Hilgendorf (University of Würzburg/bidt)

The project’s goal is to enable the normative, desirable design of software systems. To this end, a model will be developed that integrates ethical considerations systematically and in a structured manner into the development process of technical systems. Software developers and decision-makers are accompanied in their normative-conceptional design thinking in order to locate core ethical issues, evaluate them, translate them into technical requirements and consequently develop ethically adequate software.

Principal investigators:

  • Prof. Dr. Alexander Pretschner (TUM/bidt)
  • Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Julian Nida-Rümelin (LMU/bidt)

#IndustryDisruption – Strategising digital disruption in the automotive sector

The project investigates the processes of strategy formation in the German automobile sector in light of the challenges of digital transformation: How are car manufacturers reacting to the digital transformation? What strategies are being developed? What distinguishes them? And what are the consequences for society, including for professional training? The results are intended to guide decision-makers in business and politics and to encourage further academic research into the topic.

Principal investigators:

  • Prof. Dr. Thomas Hess (LMU/bidt)
  • PD Dr. Angela Graf (bidt)

Human-AI partnerships to generate explanations in complex socio-technical systems

The aim of the project is to develop an AI system that can be used for root cause analysis of errors and accidents in complex fields such as traffic accidents or incorrect diagnoses. Through interaction with experts, the AI system should also continuously learn in order to constantly develop more precise causal models. The combination of explainable learning and interactive learning is an innovative approach to implementing machine learning to support experts in complex and safety-critical socio-technical areas.

Principal investigators:

  • Prof. Dr. Ute Schmid (University of Bamberg/bidt)
  • Prof. Dr. Alexander Pretschner (TUM/bidt)
  • Prof. Dr. Dr. Eric Hilgendorf (University of Würzburg/bidt)

Challenges of regulating digital communication platforms – case study YouTube

The project investigates how video platforms are perceived in the population and what challenges they pose to smaller digital companies and their business models and what the regulation requirements of different groups are.

The guiding question is to what extent a video platform can be regulated in such a way that a diversity of opinions is assured and disinformation is prevented while privacy, copyright and competition laws are safeguarded. At the project’s conclusion, possible options for regulation will be developed in an evidence-based process. The project brings together legal and communication experts.

Principal investigators:

  • Prof. Dr. Hannah Schmid-Petri (University of Passau/bidt)
  • Prof. Dr. Dirk Heckmann (TUM/bidt)

Digitialisation requires comprehensive processes of transformation in a wide range of areas across society, the economy, law and politics. Political decision-making at multiple levels is necessary to avoid possible negative effects and make full use of the opportunities of digitalisation. It is in this context that the research project investigates the digitalisation strategies of the German states using qualitative case studies. The main focus is on two underlying themes: the processes of strategy development and the coordination and political steering of digitalisation.

Principal investigators:

  • Prof. Dr. Ursula Münch (Akademie für Politische Bildung/previously bidt director)
  • Prof. Dr. Thomas Hess (LMU/bidt)

The project will investigate the differential privacy approach to handling personal data. With differential privacy, user data is not just anonymised; the properties that it reveals about user behaviour are disguised. With this data model, valid statistical conclusions can be drawn without violating the privacy of users. As part of the project, a software environment in which to implement differential privacy will be developed.

Project proposal:

  • Prof. Dr. Simon Hegelich, TU Munich, Chair for Political Data Science, Bavarian School of Public Policy
  • Prof. Dr. Florian Matthes, TU Munich, Chair for Software Engineering of Business Information Systems
  • Prof. Dr. Uwe Baumgarten, TU Munich, Chair for Connected Computer Systems

At the moment, few users of online services understand what data portability is, even though it could be of benefit to them: The term refers to the possibility of transferring personal data between different providers, which could improve data protection and the available choices. Data portability is defined as a right in the General Data Protection Regulation. The project investigates how the concept can best be implemented in order to improve competition between online services and data-driven innovations.

Project proposal:

  • Prof. Dr. Johann Kranz, LMU Munich, Professor of Internet Business and Internet Services
  • Prof. Dr. Susanne Mayr, University of Passau, Chair of Psychology with a focus on human‐machine interaction
  • Prof. Dr. Jens Grossklags, TU Munich, Professor of Cyber Trust

What could control of media concentration that secures the functioning of a political public sphere in the age of digitalisation look like? This is the overarching question of the project, in which the procedures to measure opinion-forming power are to be improved. One of the objectives is to define criteria in order to also include politically relevant non-journalistic opinion formers as well as opinion-forming power on social media.

Project proposal:

  • Prof. Dr. Carsten Reinemann, LMU Munich, Department for Media and Communication
  • Prof. Dr. Simon Hegelich, TU Munich, Chair of Political Data Science, Bavarian School of Public Policy
  • Prof. Dr. Birgit Stark, Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, Department of Journalism (associated)

The project investigates the understanding and the use of modern technologies. The focus is on language-based interactive systems that serve as dialogue partners for users. During the project, the habits and expectations of users, including incorrect assumptions, will be analysed. The project’s aim is to contribute to a confident mastery of digital technology.

Project proposal:

  • Dr. Astrid Carolus, Media Psychology, University of Würzburg (principal investigator)
  • Prof. Carolin Wienrich, Human-Technique Systems, University of Würzburg (principal investigator)
  • Prof. Andreas Hotho, Data Science, University of Würzburg

The project investigates the transformation of social conflicts in Germany due to digitalisation. The central question is to what extent conflicts are transferred to social media and what the consequences are for democracies and for dealing with new forms of participation. Amongst others, a database of conflicts, protest waves and social movements will be built from digital sources including Twitter and Facebook.

Project proposal:

  • Prof. Dr. Kai Fischbach, University of Bamberg, Faculty of Information Systems and Applied Computer Sciences, focus on Social Networks
  • Prof. Dr. Marc Helbling, University of Bamberg, Department of Political Sociology
  • Prof. Dr. Thomas Kern, University of Bamberg, Department of Sociology, especially Sociological Theory

Palliative care as a field of work is characterised by being centred around humans in their last phase of life, multi-professional collaboration and, to date, a relatively low degree of digitalisation. At the heart of the project is the design of a digitally supported work system to improve the collaboration of skilled workers from various fields including medicine, care, psychology, social work, physiotherapy, spiritual care and volunteering.

Project proposal:

  • Prof. Dr. Henner Gimpel, University of Augsburg, Business & Information Systems Engineering; UNIA-WI (principal investigator)
  • Prof. Dr. Christoph Ostgathe, University Hospital Erlangen, Palliative Medicine, UK ER
  • Prof. Dr. Werner Schneider, University of Augsburg, Sociology; UNIA-Soz

At what stages along the supply and value creation chain are data-driven start-ups active? How do data-driven business models influence the value creation of established companies? Are start-ups a threat, or do they rather have a supporting function? To answer these questions, the project investigates how the business models of data-driven start-ups are organised and how successful they are. At the heart of the project is the detailed analysis of 200 start-ups and their position along the supply and value creation chain. The aim of the project at bidt is to derive recommendations for collaboration between established companies and start-ups.

Project proposal:

  • Prof. Dr. Jan H. Schumann, University of Passau, Chair of Business Administration with a focus on Marketing and Innovation
  • Prof. Dr. Robert Obermaier, University of Passau, Chair of Business Administration with a focus on Accounting and Controlling

China uses the so-called Social Credit System (SCS) to record the behaviour of its citizens using artificial intelligence, with the aim of influencing them. However, the effects of this system extend beyond the country’s borders. Foreign private persons and companies are also affected. The project investigates what opportunities and risks this holds for German industry. This applies especially to the more than 8,000 German companies in China. The research will also focus on determining to what extent the concept of a social credit system and the associated processes and norms could spread internationally in the context of digitalisation.

Project proposal:

  • Prof. Dr. Eugénia da Conceição-Heldt, TU Munich, Faculty for European and Global Governance
  • Prof. Dr. Doris Fischer, University of Würzburg, Chair of China Business and Economics
  • Prof. Dr. Jens Grossklags, TU Munich, Chair of Cyber Trust

The project investigates the possibility of exercising media policy through the development of software. The focus is on developing a software for public media platforms that not only serves business models but also considers the public interest and takes into account media regulations. The project will deliver an analysis of stakeholders in the media sector, of the framework of laws and regulations governing media, and of potential uses and markets. Prototype implementations are also foreseen.

Project proposal:

  • Dr. Jan-Hendrik Passoth, TU Munich, Munich Center for Technology in Society
  • Dr. Daniel Mendez, fortiss
  • Prof. Dr. Hans-Bernd Brosius, LMU Munich, Department of Media and Communication
  • Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schulz, University of Hamburg, LeibnizInstitute for Media Research (associated)

The application of artificial intelligence in the field of healthcare is associated with great hopes, but also with many open questions surrounding the ethical, social and legal aspects. For its project, the research group has opted for an empirical approach: Using two case studies of innovative technologies based on artificial intelligence, the team will develop recommendations for the development of medical applications – both in terms of product design and in terms of integration into the work environment and training of medical professions.

Project proposal:

  • Prof. Dr. med. Alena M. Buyx, TU Munich, Institute of Ethics, History and Theory of Medicine
  • Prof. Dr. Sami Haddadin, TU Munich, Chair of Robotics and Systems Intelligence
  • Prof. Dr. Ruth Müller, TU Munich, Munich Center for Technology in Society

The project investigates novel concepts for the collaboration between humans and machines in factories. The goal of so-called mixed-skill factories is to render production planning more flexible through the use of robotic systems while using the resulting design possibilities to improve working conditions for employees.

Project proposal:

  • Prof. Dr. Alin Albu-Schäffer, DLR, Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics
  • Prof. Dr. Fritz Böhle, ISF Munich
  • Markus Rickert, fortiss

The project focuses on the handling of personal data from an interdisciplinary perspective. The goal is to examine to what extent the willingness to disclose personal data depends on acculturation and on the existing legal framework. The role of cognitive and affective factors is also investigated. Furthermore, the transnational character of business models based on the disclosure of personal data will be described for the first time in a broad comparative study.

Project proposal:

  • Prof. Dr. Moritz Hennemann, Faculty of Law, University of Passau (principal investigator)
  • Prof. Dr. Kai v. Lewinski, Faculty of Law, University of Passau
  • Prof. Dr. Daniela Wawra, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Passau
  • Prof. Dr. Thomas Widjaja, Faculty of Economics, University of Passau

Can algorithms calculate morally in situations of conflict? Ethics and digital operationalisation regarding risk assessment in child welfare practice (KAIMo)

The project is located at the interface between ethics, informatics and social work. It examines whether institutional action in morally conflicted cases can be supported or even replaced by software programmes. The concrete example of assessing the danger to children in child and adolescent welfare work is used as a basis to analyse whether and how normative criteria can be translated into algorithms to serve as assistive systems for ethically founded decision-making.

Project proposal:

  • Prof. Dr. Michael Reder, Professor for Practical Philosophy, Munich School of Philosophy (principal investigator)
  • Prof. Dr. Alexander Filipović, Professor for Practical Philosophy, Munich School of Philosophy (principal investigator)
  • Prof. Dr. phil. habil. Nicholas Müller, Faculty of Computer Science & Business Informatics, University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt
  • Prof. Dr. Robert Lehmann, Institut für E-Beratung, Nuremberg Tech


Transforming workplaces: Adoption of technology and skills by companies and individuals

The research project examines the interaction between humans and technology in the workplace. The development and availability of digital technologies have triggered a transformation in the organisation of work and in work processes within companies. But while the digital transformation opens up new possibilities for companies and workers, the adoption of technologies is often a difficult process. Companies frequently face high adaptation costs and the question of how to empower and obtain employees with the new skills that are required. Individuals in turn ask themselves what skills are important and are in demand in the labour market. The project will examine what new technologies are being introduced in the context of the digital transformation, what determinants of these technology introductions can be identified, what skills and competencies they require and how the acquisition of these skills and competencies can be promoted. The research questions will be answered through a predominantly empirical approach with an innovative combination of micro-economic data, such as the Linked Employer-Employee Dataset (LIAB) and the Linked Personnel Panel (LPP) of the Institute for Employment Research of the German Federal Employment Agency.

Project proposal:

  • Prof. Dr. Florian Englmaier, LMU Munich, Economics Department (principal investigator)
  • Dr. Nadzeya Laurentsyeva, LMU Munich, Economics Department

Digitalisation at universities due to the coronavirus (Digitalisierung an Hochschulen durch Corona, DiHS-c)

This is a collaborative project of the bidt with the Bavarian State Institute for Higher Education Research and Planning (Bayerisches Staatsinstitut für Hochschulforschung und Hochschulplanung, IHF)

Since spring 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in drastic restrictions not just in private and professional life, but also in academia. The lack of contacts and social distancing rules in particular have had a massive impact on the way in which education and research activities are conducted at university. Digital transformation processes that had already been initiated at many universities in previous years underwent a tremendous but unplanned acceleration. Teaching, research and administrative activities shifted almost completely online. The project will investigate how the pandemic has driven the process of digitalisation at universities, what difficulties were associated with the implementation of digital semesters and what the implications are for the long-term improvement of the conditions for conducting teaching and research virtually. To this end, an empirical survey of university professors, research associates and graduates will be conducted.

Project management:

  • Prof. Dr. Yvette Hofmann (project management IHF)
  • Dr. Roland A. Stürz (project coordination bidt)