Doing CSCW research with small and medium enterprises
European Society for Socially Embedded Technologies (EUSSET)
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are often described as “the backbone of the European economy” (Annual report on European SMEs 2014/2015), counting about 22 million active SMEs in 2014 and employing almost 90 million people (ibidem). You can find various branches and fields, including diverse examples such as IT start-ups, shops, metalworking, and the ancillary industry. Many successful, long-standing SMEs have already experienced multiple socio-economic changes and phases of transformation like the “third industrial revolution” with the integration of automatisation and information and communication technologies (ICT). Many companies have faced the so-called “industry 4.0” development and the correlated digitalisation processes within the last decade. Since the start of the ongoing Covid19 pandemic in early 2020, some of these processes were accelerated (home office, coving phases of quarantine, shift to e-commerce etc.), and some additional aspects like delivery problems, loss of orders, sales collabs, absence of personnel) are an enduring challenge for many SMEs. These issues are interesting from a CSCW perspective: How do the involved actors in the companies deal with such challenges and processes of digitalisation and technological transformation? How do the different stakeholders cooperate on an intra-, inter-, and external level (meaning within the respective SME, with their collaborative partners and providers of infrastructure etc.), especially in times of crisis? In the masterclass, you will zoom into SMEs, learn about crucial concepts connected with the outlined issues above, discuss methodological approaches, and engage stakeholders for cooperation when conducting research and design projects in this practical field.