Dr. Christian Lerch

Project Coordinator



Transformation of corporate cultures through innovative process technology and organization as a function of SME-specific digitization strategies


Initial situation

With the advent of networked production, digital business models and increasingly individualized customer requirements, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are facing new challenges. While digital solutions promise to increase efficiency and productivity, company surveys show that SMEs tend to be reluctant to adopt digital solutions. The reasons for this appear to be manifold: operational workflows are typically geared toward reproducing well-rehearsed organizational patterns and habits, whereas the introduction of digital solutions potentially requires the transformation of processes and structures. Against this backdrop, according to the central assumption of the project, it is not only financial investments, increased demands on IT security or the lack of specialist skills that act as barriers to digital transformation, but also the corporate culture itself.


The project "Transformation of corporate cultures through innovative process technology and organization as a function of SME-specific digitization strategies (TrueCultureDig)" starts here and examines the opportunities and limits of the digital transformation toward Work 4.0 on the basis of concrete operational application examples located in the fields of mechanical engineering, plastics processing and medical technology. In order to understand the technological, organizational and cultural transformation processes, the project combines scientific expertise and methodological know-how from the social sciences and business informatics. The interdisciplinary project consortium comprises a total of six partners: The Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI coordinates the project network and is in charge of the systematic survey of the organizational-structural and cultural framework conditions of digitization projects. The work of the Institute for Applied Innovation Research (IAI) at the Ruhr University Bochum aims to identify possible applications for digital technologies in SMEs and to clarify the necessary socio-technical requirements. The Institute for Smart Systems and Services (IoS³) at Pforzheim University is working with the three SMEs to develop digitization strategies based on specific use cases and derive the necessary steps for implementation, which it will then translate into a roadmap.

Social added value

The project contributes to research into the digital working world of tomorrow and addresses the question of how adapted corporate cultures can ensure barrier-free interaction between people and technology and how digitization can be used in the interests of employees. In addition, social innovations in the context of new work processes are examined in greater detail and research is conducted into how technical and social innovations can be achieved both within and across companies through a participatory and trust-based design process involving employees, customers and stakeholders. Another focus of the project includes competence development in the work process and includes organizational as well as personnel requirements.

All information on the project and the project partners can be found here!