1) Netcentric Work in Dutch safety organizations: an organization-cultural perspective (2011).
In 2011 I will carry out a research project financed by the Dutch organization Crisisplein, a project organization of the Netherlands Institute for Safety. The research is about: ‘Netcentrisch werken in ontwikkeling. Een onderzoek naar multidisciplinaire samenwerking met een gedeeld operationeel beeld’. The research is part of the Amsterdam Research on Emergency Administration. Other researchers involved: Jaap de Heer and Jeroen Wolbers.
Netcentric work means that the emergency response professionals (police, fire fighters and ambulance services) together with administrators (e.g. representatives of the municipality) collect real-time information about a crisis situation and about each others’ actions in order to create a common operational picture. The aim of the research is to understand how the ‘colors’ or specific cultures of the professional organizations enable or constrain the multi-disciplinary cooperation during netcentric work. The outcomes will be used to 1) facilitate the implementation of Netcentric Work in the Dutch Safety Regions; 2) provide cases to be used in the curricula of the Netherlands Institute for Safety; 3) improve the information sharing practices of the professionals; 4) improve the multi-disciplinary practices of the professionals.
This is the report (in Dutch) that we published as an outcome of the project: Netcentrisch Werken in ontwikkeling. Een cultuuronderzoek naar multidisciplinaire samenwerking en gezamenlijke operationele beelden in de Veiligheidsregio’s.
2) Amsterdam Research on Emergency Administration (2009-now).
I am one of the researchers and the coordinator of the Research Group Amsterdam Research on Emergency Administration (AREA) of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the VU University Amsterdam. The programme aims at addressing organizational problems in the crisis management domain. The goal of AREA is to perform multidisciplinary research towards the crisis management domain at several levels (multi-level research). We use several methods, such as participative ethnographic research, survey-research, social psychological research, communication analysis and social network analysis. The research is performed in close collaboration with practitioners – the project on Netcentric Work in Dutch safety organizations is part of this programme. Through the use of international contacts we aim at developing more insight through international comparisons. As researchers we aim at giving yearly recommendations to the crisis management domain for the improvement of the crisis response organization and work processes.
3) Surveillance Technologies in Practice (2009-2013).
I am the current coordinator of the project Surveillance Technologies in Practice in the COST Action IS0807 Living in Surveillance Societies. In the action we will bring together the research and policy interest in surveillance societies in the Netherlands. We have been in touch with the international experts that are listed in the Action.
Our contribution in the programme basically has three main objectives:
- we will bring together the researchers from the various disciplinary fields that are active in surveillance-studies in the Netherlands. In doing so, we will be able to build a more coherent body of knowledge about such issues as surveillance and public policy, surveillance and citizens, surveillance and the use of technology and surveillance and private companies. This knowledge will strengthen the discussions in the four proposed LiSS working groups: living in the Surveillance Age, Surveillance Technologies in Practice, the Business of Surveillance and Public Policy and the Regulation of Surveillance.
- we will integrate the Dutch knowledge about these issues in the broader EU research community by organizing international research cooperation and by presenting our research findings in international workshops and conferences,
- in doing so, we will raise the profile of the Dutch surveillance research in the wider EU area and showcase the Dutch expertise in this domain.
4) Research into the cultural consequences of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems for organizational change (2002-2004).
The focus of this project was on the organisational cultural consequences of integrated business systems such as ERPs. During the 1990s these systems have been introduced as very promising. However, these systems also became associated with new organisational problems and side effects. They can consequently be characterized as highly demanding technologies. Our project evaluated theoretically from a critical cultural studies perspective, and methodically through discourse analyses, the tensions between the promises of the virtual and the demands of everyday user practices regarding integrated business systems. The outcomes of this research was of value to the debate on the virtualisation of organisations and the new economy. I carried out this this project with dr.ir. Sytze Kingma. It resulted in various publications in journals and books.
5) The history of Industrial Research (1997-2002).
My first academic project resulted in the book Inventing Structures for Industrial Research. A history of the Philips Nat.Lab. 1914-1946. Aksant Academic Publishers, February 2002, Amsterdam and in various academic papers.
My book is about the early history of the Philips Natuurkundig Laboratorium (the Philips Physics Laboratory, abbreviated as: Nat.Lab.). The Nat.Lab.’s history started when, in the winter of 1913-14, Gerard Philips and his brother Anton decided to found a research organization as a separate part of their company in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. The Philips brothers hired Gilles Holst and others to carry out scientific experiments. The first ambition was to improve the existing light bulb technology and later to create new products like X-ray tubes and radio sets.
Holst became the leader and organizer of the research laboratory. Scientists who worked with him proved the business value of industrial research for the Philips company. The Nat.Lab. story indicates that it was not enough for Philips to simply have a tradition of innovation – the company also needed to create a structure and value a culture that permitted the coordination between people and resources that was necessary for developing innovations in an industrial context.
I have shown in my book that the Nat.Lab. history in the first decades of the twentieth century can be seen as part of a broader development internationally: the commodification of research. During the first decades of the twentieth century, the function of the industrial research laboratory became institutionalized. The institutionalization process of industrial research involved an intentional structuring of the research organization in the company, in which various persons worked together in specific business contexts. At a local level, Philips people headed by Holst (re)invented structures that enabled them to do inventions.