In the course of the digital transformation, business models, production processes and activities will be changed permanently. The economic literature and public discussion on the "future of work" is largely concerned with how digital technologies can replace human activities. On the other hand, economic research focuses in particular on equilibrium effects on regional labour markets caused by activity-distorting technological change in the context of automation.

However, digitalisation is not a purely technological process. Little is known about the preferences and restrictions on the labour demand side and especially on the part of decision-makers in companies. Empirically, very heterogeneous digitalisation activities between companies can be observed - despite largely high expectations regarding positive effects on company performance. The heterogeneous digital transformation of companies is also receiving more and more attention as a possible reason for subdued productivity growth in many countries. Reasons for companies' reluctant use of digital technologies can - analogous to classical innovation projects - be financial restrictions. In addition, hesitant digitalisation activities on the part of companies are often associated with "awareness" problems (perceptual biases).

Overall, there is a great need to analyse and better understand the restrictions and perceptions of decision-makers with regard to digital transformation and their preferences regarding possible entrepreneurial activities to shape technological change. In this context, adjustments of labour demand along different qualification levels, company-based qualification measures and organisational adjustment processes are of particular importance. A better understanding of corporate restrictions and decision-making processes in the context of digitalisation also helps policy-makers to develop targeted support measures for the dissemination of digital technologies, which are essential for international competitiveness.

The aim of this research project is to measure both the role of restrictions in the digitalisation of companies and the effect of the perception of the digital transformation on company digitalisation processes in terms of labour demand, qualification and further training. For this purpose, randomised survey experiments are carried out within the framework of the ZEW Information Economy Survey.

Project duration

01.05.2020 - 31.12.2022

Project members

Dr. Daniel Erdsiek (Coordinator)
Vincent Rost
Dr. Steffen Viete (resigned)


Digital Economy