Research focuses


Prof. Dr. Thomas Behrends and Dr. Alexander Martin are involved in the Dr. Werner Jackstädt Competence Center as firm competency members with their research contributions to entrepreneurship and small and medium-sized businesses. The competence center is a common institution of the economic departments of Europa-Universität Flensburg and the University of Applied Sciences in Flensburg. It pursues the objective to firmly establish the specialist field of start-up and SME research as a main area within Flensburg business studies. On the part of the competency members of the Chair of Human Resources and Organization, the research focuses include growth, change and organizational development in small and medium-sized enterprises as well as innovation management.


Growth, change and organizational development in small and medium-sized enterprises

Irrespective of their respective theoretical / empirical foundation and content, there is an important commonness of relevant phase or progress models of growth-driven organizational development when outlining a gradual and fundamental change in the function logic of companies. However, with regard to the analysis of the change or adaptation requirements of the corporate logic of action arising as a result in this context the relevant explanations often remain fairly superficial. On the one hand, this is due to the fact that as to their considerations the various authors are mostly oriented towards any  issues of overall corporate management and/or of (external) market cultivation, while, on the other hand, any internal organizational aspects take a backseat. Moreover, the wide-ranging claim of validity of most growth models (normally ranging from start-ups to developed large companies) almost inevitably results in a rather rough, sometimes simplistic description of the individual development levels; however, the inherent "social dynamics" of corporate growth which finally finds its expression in a radical change of the corporate social order cannot sufficiently be described in a differentiated way.

In the present field of research, a first substantial part of (growth-driven) organizational development is central with the corporate early development from a small company to a medium-sized company. Based on a sociological understanding of the functional capability of companies the question is pursued to what extent basic effects of a progressive growth of social systems – differentiation of as well as separation from social and system integration – can be conceived as a cause, but partly even as a consequence of an organizational cultural change of growing companies in this phase.

Innovation management

In most sectors, the level of competition has considerably been increasing during the past decades. The driving force of this development can be led back to e.g. an increasing globalization, a growing economic strength of countries moderately industrialized up to now, a rapid technological progress or shortened product life cycles.

Against the backdrop of an increasing level of competition, the corporate innovative capability has meanwhile become an existential question. Thus, the development of successful products and services on the market represents a key factor for economic success. In this context, the long-term survival of companies significantly depends on their capability to institutionalize the creation of innovations on a corporate basis. In particular, small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) face considerable challenges as a result, as they often lack the necessary resources and knowledge for the systematical management of innovations.  

It is just at this problem where the competence field  of  "Innovation management" at the Dr. Werner Jackstädt Center starts. In this competence field, the key influencing factors and mechanisms for the successful organization of corporate innovation and change processes at SMEs are researched from an interdisciplinary and holistic perspective. In the forefront of the activities, there is the identification of processes and structures, particularly enabling SMEs to proactively and early realize any changes in the competitive environment and technological changes, to extend their resources and competencies in a target-oriented manner and to develop successful products and services based on the latter.