• Prof. Dr. Phil. Jürgen Radel, HTW Berlin

Professor Jürgen Radel is especially fascinated by change processes. The economist has been researching and teaching in the field of human resources management at the HTW Berlin University of Applied Sciences since 2014. In his projects, he works with companies e.g. to help them understand group dynamics and dissolve passive resistance to change.

He studied at RWTH Aachen University and then worked in the Sauerland, the US, Bremen, and Hamburg before coming to Berlin in 2014 to take up his position at HTW Berlin University of Applied Sciences. Since then he has been a member of the Department of Economics and Law with Human Resources Management and Organizational Behavior. And he is currently working on a topic that affects us all, but especially HR: change processes. He is particularly interested in the question of how resistance to change arises. “Organisational models that work in an agile manner are currently in high demand. This can mean that managers are suddenly no longer needed and teams are supposed to organise themselves, resulting in massive cuts to or even devaluation of old roles. It can also mean that the individual employee is now being held more accountable. All of this often leads to all sorts of uncertainty and passive resistance to those pushing the change. Its the effects of all this that I study,” Jürgen Radel explains his research work.

It is particularly exciting for Jürgen Radel that the behaviour of employees in change processes is often shaped by what he calls “oppressive friendliness.” “On the surface, everyone supports the change, but nothing happens in reality. This in turn leads to many exciting topics. As a generic term, one could use the term ‘group dynamics.’“ In his projects, Jürgen Radel works with companies that use agile teams or work in a self-organised manner. His goal: “To make them aware of the unconscious dynamics at work. Then they are suddenly less problematic and the performance of the teams increases dramatically.” Jürgen Radel himself wants to learn to understand group dynamics. Above all, how employees can be helped to take on new roles more quickly. And how passive resistance and immunity to change can be resolved.

Berlin is a unique cultural and intellectual melting pot with global appeal and many top-class research institutions. In his view, the mix of the past, present, and future in Berlin is unlike that found in any other city. 

At last, according to the change researcher, it is about helping individuals. But it is also important to keep the drop in performance as short as possible during the transformation. “This works if you think not only in terms of processes, but also look at the soft factors. Groups often fail because of very simple tasks. For example, if they are supposed to organise themselves in teams. If you ask for it, there is a fear of rejection. Or of disappointing someone else’s concern and thereby endangering the human relationship.”

Jürgen Radel has experienced Berlin companies and Berlin itself as very open in the way they collaborate. He remains fascinated by Brain City Berlin: “To be honest, Berlin was never my first choice of location. Until I got to know my colleagues here. I am amazed at how much knowledge is being created here.  The scene in Berlin is very lively and diverse, there are many great researchers here.” Sometimes, he adds thoughtfully, he has the feeling that “many of us, and I cannot exclude myself from this, are so focused and specialized that the exchange suffers a little as a result.” Jürgen Radel’s motto is therefore: “Always stay curious and keep discovering!”

For Brain City Berlin, Jürgen Radel hopes one thing above all: that the open scientific exchange in the city is maintained. “In particular, a wide range of different opinions provide exciting sources of inspiration.” The freedom to conduct research are of great value for the committed academic. “They generate a lot of movement. And this in turn creates friction, which can sometimes lead to heat. In this context, I hope that debates will be conducted in an appreciative and factual manner, regardless of what opinion one may have.” 

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