Institut für Unternehmenskybernetik

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Institut für Unternehmenskybernetik (abbreviated IfU), is a German research institution dedicated to advancing the study of Entrepreneurial cybernetics and management cybernetics, founded in 1988 and located in Aachen, Germany.



The IfU is a widely dispersed networked institute, composed of members from exceedingly differentiated disciplines. As an affiliated institute of the RWTH Aachen University since 2003, the IfU is in constant contact with numerous other institutes associated with the university (e.g. Textile Technologies, the Research Institute for Rationalisation, and the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology). Moreover, the IfU is a member association of the AiF (German Federation of Industrial Research Associations), representing the 'management cybernetics' sector, and is therefore a contact partner for many interdisciplinary research projects. As an application orientated research institute, the IfU has been developing methods and tools specifically designed to fit the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises since 1988. In doing so it pursues the principal ‘out of the practice for the practice’ with an inductive research paradigm:[clarification needed]

"In interdisciplinary research projects we seek to develop practical solutions with the aid of our research partners. These solutions will be implemented and evaluated in all enterprises concerned. The theories of Stafford Beer, Frederic Vester, Fredmund Malik, Klaus Henning as well as Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela (amongst others) form the scientific bases of our work."

Entrepreneurial Cybernetics[edit]

Introducing the institute, IfU focuses on the interaction between people, technology and organisations taking place within small to medium-sized enterprises. The Institute for Management of Cybernetics regards businesses as living systems, which convert information and resources into products or services through a series of compound processes. As a practice orientated and interdisciplinary science, the IfU aims to optimize these business processes by means of development and publishing of scientifically proven methods. The procedures implemented are always based on cybernetic principles- and in particular on the idea of a control loop, or feedback. This means that internal business processes are not straightforward input-output relationships but are constantly being influenced and changed by their own outcomes, i.e. they are recursive. Such a principal can have both aiding and debilitating effects but the IfU aims to help businesses implement and use it profitably.

Being able to recognise enterprises as open, socio-technological, economic, multifaceted and networked systems, the IfU helps to describe and explain the complex phenomena which occur within these contexts.


The Institute for Management Cybernetics e.V. (IfU) forms an institute cluster with the Center for Learning and Knowledge Management and the Department of Information Management in Mechanical Engineering at the RWTH Aachen University.

Areas of Expertise; introducing projects carried out by IfU[edit]

The IfU carried out projects in several areas of expertise; these cover cost-effectiveness, micro and start-up enterprises, co-operations processes and change management and are explained below in more detail.

Cost Effectiveness[edit]

When estimating cost-effectiveness, the IfU places emphasis on both hard factors (e.g. costs, time) and soft factors (e.g. employee motivation and the communication culture) in its approach to economic appraisal. Following this initiative, an extensive overview of a business can be achieved. The NOWS technique (use-orientated cost-effectiveness evaluation) is one of the main software tools developed by IfU, as a means of helping enterprises make a profitability analysis. Because falsely estimated investments can steer companies towards crisis situations, it is very important that every decision maker considers all factors before making an investment. The software tool creates a graph based on all the factors integrated into the system, and as a result presents the enterprises with the best possible option of investment. Diverse aspects are considered in the analysis, leaving little to no room for insecurities; a stable investment scenario is presented.

Consequently, several projects profited from this method; NowBITs - investments in computing services were valued and a code of practice was compiled. AutoPreforms - the efficient manufacture of fibre reinforced composites in the car industry.

Micro and start-up enterprises[edit]

For over ten years, the IfU has been aiming to find solutions in helping micro and start-up enterprises with the management of resources. Once the start-up incentives have phased-out, many young businesses reach a critical stage which is marked by a high number of bankruptcies. The reasons for failure of young businesses are multifaceted but are often associated with lack of experience. An exemplary undertaking is the Jungunternehmen Project - a method map was developed to provide the enterprises that reach this critical stage with the necessary support.

Co-operation Processes[edit]

Additionally, with the intent to help enterprises use limited resources more efficiently by converting relevant information into applicable knowledge, the IfU researches success factors in co-operations processes and co-ordinates corresponding joint projects. To illustrate the work carried out in this field, in project SENEKA (Service networks for Education and Further Education ) the IfU has co-ordinated the cross-sectional task of innovation management.

Change Management[edit]

As stipulated previously, the IfU carried out several projects in the field of change management to help organisations adapt to the fluctuating market conditions. CuBa Change is one of the newer developments. The project’s objective is to develop a practical and easy process of quality-orientated safeguard and adoption of Changes Processes for SMEs, whilst abiding by the more fundamental features of corporate culture. In this way a management-specific situational analysis of Change-Proposals will be enabled, increasing the likelihood of success and the ability to cope with the constant need to adapt to change.


  • Balkenhol, Bernd, Simon, Arne: A Cybernetic Approach to the Integration of Environmental Management Systems in Organisations. In: Proc. ENTREE 99, Environmental Training in Engineering Education,10.-13. Nov. 1999.
  • Brandt, Dietrich; Henning, Klaus; Strina, Giuseppe: Human-Oriented Enterprise Modelling and Change Processes. In: Proc. 14th World Congress IFAC, Beijing, PRC, July 5–9, S. A. 1999.
  • Corves, B. ; Kordi, M. T.; Hüsing, M.; Flachskampf, P. (2008): Economic Manufacturing of Fibre Reinforced Composite Structures Using Robot-Supported Automation. In: Proceedings of MUSME 2008, the International Symposium on Multibody Systems and Mechatronics, 8–12 April 2008 Paper n. 03
  • Dassen-Housen, Petra: Trends towards the future society of knowledge: networking, learning and change processes. In: Industry-focused applications of knowledge management across Germany. 2004.
  • Frank, Stefan; Streit, Achim: Implementing Service Orientation in Production Enterprises. In: Human-Centred System Design. First:People, Second: Organisation, Third: Technology. Aachener Reihe Mensch und Technik, Band 42. Hrsg. v. Brandt, Dietrich: Aachen: Wissenschaftsverlag Mainz, 2003: 54-62.
  • Haferkamp, Sven; Henning, Klaus; Thomas, S.: Preparing Employees for the Learning Enterprise of the Future through Simulation Games. In: 4th International Workshop of the Special Interest Group of IFIP WG 5.7 on Games in Production Management in Ghent, Belgium, 26.-29.11. 1998.
  • Haferkamp, Sven; Refflinghaus, R.; Crostack, H.-A.; Henning, Klaus: Simulation Games for Developing Quality Consciousness in Engineering, Management and higher Education. In: 23rd International Conference "Improving University Teaching"; 06.-09.07. 1998.
  • Henning, Klaus ;Bohnhoff, Armin; Isenhardt, Ingrid: Initiative to and guidance of reorganisation in complex systems - exemplified by the introduction of a new clearing system in a large hospital. In: Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Systems Research Informatics and Cybernetics. 1992.
  • Henning, Klaus; Oertel, Regina; Henrichs, Christian: SENEKA -Co-operation in knowledge management. In: Strategy Networks : a comprehensive introduction into cooperation among production companies / (Hrsg.: V. Li Zheng). - Beijing : Tsinghua University Press China. 2000.
  • Henning, Klaus; Brandt, Dietrich; Strina, Giuseppe: Self-Similarity in Change Processes. In: Proc. of the 6th International Conference on Human Aspects of Advanced Manufacturing: Agility & Hybrid Automation, 05.-08.07. Industrial Engineering and Management. Hrsg. v. Karwowski, W.; Gonnetilleke, R.: Hong Kong, 1998: 81-84.
  • Ihsen, Susanne; Schoeler, Georg: Developing Sustainable Knowledge Structures - the Issue of Systematical Change. In: Industry- Focussed Applications of Knowledge Management across Germany. Aachener Reihe Mensch und Technik, Band 49. 2004.
  • Michulitz, Christiane; Trantow, Sven; Meinhold, Julie: Change Management. In: Qualitätsmanagement - Qualität durch eine Kultur des Wandels. Hrsg. v. Euroforum Verlag GmbH: Düsseldorf: Euroforum Verlag, 2008: 1-77.
  • Mischulitz, C.; Flachskampf, P. (2005): Cooperation of International Subsidiaries. In: Knowledge Board
  • Pfeifer, Tilo; Betzold, M; Strina, Giuseppe; Uribe, Jaime: MOTEx-Analysis: Recognising the Operational Status and Requirements in the Knowledge Management Sector. In: . 2003.
  • Protogerakis, Michael; Gramatke, Arno; Henning, Klaus: A Telematic Support System for Emergency Medical Services. In: Proceedings of The 3rd International Multi-Conference on Society, Cybernetics and Informatics: IMSCI 2009. 2009.
  • Strina, Giuseppe; Uribe, Jaime: Participative pre-evaluation of the profitability of operational investments - NOWS approach - A process and involvement oriented evaluation method. In: Applied Participation and Empowerment at Work - Methods, Tools and Case Studies. Hrsg. v. Johansson, C.R.; Frevel, A.; Geißler-Gruber, B.; Strina, Giuseppe: Lund, Sweden: Studentenliteratur, 2004: 81-92.
  • Strina, Giuseppe: Self-similarity as a new principle for the design of innovation processes in production systems: How to use the fractal principle for the management of innovation processes. In: Proc. 5. Int. Sympos. on Automated Syst. based on Human Skills. Brandt, Dietrich u.a. (Hrsg.). Oxford. 1995: S. 55-60.
  • Weber, A.; Flachskampf, P.; Hawdon, C.; Krambrock, N.;Kopperger, D.; Stanistic-Petrovic, M.; Strauß, O. (2008): supporting growth in Small Businesses – Developing and Testing an Integrated Management Tool to Support Start-Up Businesses in their Transition to becoming Consolidated Medium-Sized Businesses. In: Knowledge Board - 03/2008

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