Double transformation: Impacts of environmental and digital change on production companies in energy-intensive industries

Universität Duisburg-Essen


In the wake of climate change, many companies are facing increasing pressure to transform. This is particularly true for production companies in energy-intensive industries as well as for companies in the energy industry. In addition to societal expectations, political measures to achieve energy and climate targets are confronting companies with the challenge of designing their production in an environmentally sustainable manner. At the same time, in the course of digitalization, a comprehensive transformation is taking place in the industrial production sectors through the testing and introduction of intelligent, digitally networked systems and production processes.

Operational measures to implement ecological objectives and increasingly digitized production are leading to changes in work processes that place new demands on employees. In addition to the question of securing employment and locations in the transformation, the associated qualification needs are also currently largely undetermined.

Research question

Against this background, the project aims to investigate the effects of the simultaneous ecological and digital transformation on companies in energy-intensive industries and the energy industry in an explorative approach.

The aim is to collect empirical findings on the specific challenges, processes and negotiations of the transformation in the companies, to explore the need for action in companies with regard to vocational and in-company training and further education, and to include the perspectives of works councils on the double transformation and their associated problem definitions and action strategies.


Due to the lack of research on the question of ecological and digital transformation, especially in energy-intensive industries, the study has an qualitative and expIorative approach. Two criteria are at the forefront of the selection of industries: The confrontation with the challenge of finding a long-term sustainable way of dealing with scarce natural resources and the relevance of digitalization. In the selected industries, company case studies will be carried out in which the previous developments of the transformation and the problem interpretations and strategies of the company actors will be analyzed.

Three cases per industry are to be examined in which the challenges of the dual transformation intersect. The case studies will be based on qualitative and guided interviews with selected representatives of management and works councils. In each of the nine case companies, at least one interview will be conducted with a representative of each of the two sides of industry.

Uni Duisburg Essen
Prof. Dr. Thomas Haipeter
Project lead

Universität Duisburg-Essen

Institut Arbeit und Qualifikation

+49 203 - 3791812
Alexander Bendel
Research Associate

Universität Duisburg-Essen

Institut Arbeit und Qualifikation

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