Thomas Wagenknecht

Research Scientist

Crowdsourcing in a Public Organization: Transformation and Culture

From August 10th to 12th, I was lucky enough to attend the 23rd Americas Conference on Information Systems. I presented our paper „Crowdsourcing in a Public Organization: Transformation and Culture,“ where we develop an IT artifact that enables employees to participate in the strategic decision-making processes at their organization. Working with an organization that had a quite hierarchical structure with fixed processes, we found an IT culture conflict as crowdsourcing requires an open and more transparent culture. Nonetheless, our study shows that crowdsourcing can help to transform organizations, if you mind the organizational culture.

I’m honored that my paper was nominated by SIGOSRA as one of the best papers at the conference and that I was named Best Reviewer by SIGEGOV.

People Analytics und Künstliche Intelligenz – Was steckt hinter Kollege Watson?

Auf der diesjährigen re:publica stellte IBM unter dem Titel „Kollege Watson hilft dem Personaler“ seine Lösungen im Bereich der Künstlichen Intelligenz (KI) und deren Anwendung im HR-Kontext vor. Watson wird dabei als kognitives System vorgestellt, das Verstehen, Folgern und Lernen kann. Welche technischen Innovationen stecken hinter Watson und was können sie für den HR-Bereich bedeuten?


Deutsche Welle Interview: Shift Blockchain

Noch am Rande der re:publica hatte mich die Deutsche Welle für ihr Magazin „Shift – Leben in der digitalen Welt“ zum Thema Blockchain interviewt. Der Beitrag ist nun online zu sehen unter und beleuchtet ganz spannende Anwendungsfälle der Technologie im Kunst- und Diamantenbereich.

Blockchange – How Science Revolutionizes Democracy, Work and Nature Using Blockchain

Bitcoin is already transforming the financial industry. The technology behind it – Blockchain – has great potential to revolutionize many other areas of our lives too. In my talk at re:publica 17, I explore Blockchain applications under way in the fields of nature, democracy and work.

If you’d like to learn more about it, here are some interesting links:

  1. terra0 is an art project on a self-owning augmented forest. There’s also some code on Github. If you’d like to learn more about Uber and Waymo, you might want to read this Economist article.
    We are going to start a large-scale research project based on the terra0 concept later this year. Stay in touch!
  2. Ralph Merkle wrote a paper on the DAO Democracy, which draws on ideas related to Futarchy by Robin Hanson. There’s a paper in Science on the promise of prediction markets. Also there are two excellent interviews with both Merkle and Hanson on Epicenter.
    You can trade on the prediction market developed by my colleagues at KIT, on For those interested in the costs of a German road charge, see this piece at (German). If you’d like to learn more about my research on democracy, watch my re:publica 15 talk or refer to my publications list.
  3. Consensus Systems applies the blockchain to get rid of hierarchies and to implement a Holocracy-like corporate governance system. There is a great interview with its founder, Joe Lubin, in Duke’s CE magazine. And you can learn more about Liquid Holocray at CoinDesk.
    You can also verify my claim of the correlation between city scaling and innovation in this PNAS article. I borrowed the analogy to corporate growth from Tony Hsieh (CEO of Zappos).

For further information on the blockchain technology, you may also join the Blockchain Network by KIT’s Institite of Information Systems and Marketing and follow our research group.

Pecha Kuch Abend 2017 @ Liquid Democracy e.V.

Wer auch nach dem ersten re:publica Tag noch fit genug ist, weiteren spannenden Input aufzunehmen, sei auf den zweiten Pecha-Kucha-Abend beim Liquid Democracy e.V. hingewiesen. Neben meiner Wenigkeit stellen dort am 8. Mai, ab 18.30 Uhr Expert*innen aus Forschung und Praxis ihre Arbeit aus den Bereichen digitale Demokratie, Civic Tech, freie Software und Open Data vor.

Blockchange @ re:publica 2017

Blockchain technology changes more than the financial industry. Scientists have proposed revolutionary concepts for managing our democracy, forests and other natural systems as well as the way we work. Discussing potential benefits and risks, I will introduce “Futarchy” and similar DAO governance models to change political systems, “terra0” which proposes a self-owned augmented forest and a concept to compensate founders and employees at re:publica 2017. Come and see my talk live at Stage 5 on Monday, May 8th, at 12.15h. Learn more at

Science Slam im Lido, Berlin

Im ausverkauften Lido Berlin durfte ich Anfang März am Science Slam teilnehmen, der mir wirklich größten Spaß bereitet hat. In nur 10 Minuten habe ich versucht, die letzten beiden Jahre Forschung zum Thema „Demokratie im Unternehmen“ möglichst unterhaltsam und verständlich zu vermitteln. Wer nicht dabei sein konnte, hat nun die Möglichkeit sich meinen Auftritt bei YouTube in aller Ruhe anzusehen. (Oder auf den Seiten von ARD alpha.)

Towards a design theory of computer-supported organizational participation

My article on a new approach towards a design theory for participation in organizations has been published in the Journal of Enterprise Information Management as part of a Special Issue on „Managing Enterprises in the 21st Century.“ Buidling on more than 20 expert interviews with managers of small and large firms in Germany, we develop a framework for computer-supported organizational participation. We show how employee competence and leadership commitment are as important as the workload and support as well as an option for anonymous communication.

You can access the paper at

The Impact of Anonymity on Communication Persuasiveness in Online Participation

In December, I had the chance to present my research at the International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS) in Dublin, Ireland. When it comes to organizational participation (e.g., internal crowdsourcing, open innovation), anonymity becomes increasingly important as it might encourage otherwise reticent employees to speak their (true) mind. However, providing an option for anonymous communication might also affect the way users perceive content. More specifically, in our paper, we ask whether anonymity decreases message persuasiveness. We design an experiment that is based on the intermediating factors perceived social presence, user credibility, and user involvement.

You can find out more and download the paper at

PechaKucha Night 2016 @ Liquid Democracy

Last night, there was a strict time limit for my presentation: 6 minutes and 40 seconds. Following the PechaKucha style, I introduced the audience of this year’s meeting of the Research Network Liquid Democracy to our study on anonymity and persuasion.

Moreover, there were colleagues from Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf and Berlin Social Science Center presenting their work on public (i.e., citizen) participation. Most notably, Tobias Escher talked about his outstanding research design for a parallel, longitudal study in three German citites that addresses several shortcomings of research on digital participation hetherto. The project will survey both users and non-users, both on- and offline.

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