Maximilian Heimstädt

Maximilian Heimstädt

Postdoctoral Researcher
Head of the Research Group “Reorganizing Knowledge Practices”
Weizenbaum Institute
Hardenbergstraße 32
10623 Berlin

[Research] [Outreach] [Community] [Teaching] [Contact] [CV]

I am head of the research group “Reorganizing Knowledge Practices” at Weizenbaum Institute in Berlin and an affiliated senior researcher (“Habilitand”) at Witten/Herdecke University. I study new forms of organizing in digitally-networked environments. I am particularly interested in “open” forms of organizing, such as Open Government, Open Strategy, Open Innovation or Open Science. Across these phenomena, I explore how openness – as a way of working and as a value at work – allows individuals, groups and organizations to navigate and address societal challenges.

My work has been supported by a PhD scholarship of the Foundation of German Business (SDW), the German Research Foundation (DFG), the German-American Fulbright Commission, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Heinrich Hertz Foundation. I was further awarded an Open Science Fellowship by Wikimedia, Stifterverband and Volkswagen Foundation.

Previously, I was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Witten/Herdecke’s Reinhard Mohn Institute of Management. I was a visiting researcher at Cornell University’s Department for City and Regional Planning and at Columbia University’s Department of Sociology. I hold a PhD from Freie Universität Berlin, an M.Sc. from the University of St. Andrews and an B.A. from Fresenius University of Applied Sciences in Cologne. I gained experience on the nexus of technology and organizing when working for a startup incubator and as a technology journalist.

Research interests

Organization theory; strategy-as-practice; science & technology studies; qualitative methods; transparency-accountability relations; algorithms; data; knowledge

Current projects

Data and Governance: How do city agencies cope with the expectation to become transparent by disclosing their data sets to the public? What role do activists, policy makers and entrepreneurs play in this configuration of new “open data” practices? In my dissertation project I studied how open data initiatives enrolled organizations and stakeholders in tenuous “politics of disclosure”, which eventually allowed organizations to both – protect their core mission and develop new and unexpected forms of collaboration with stakeholders.

Algorithms and Expertise: Automated decision systems – oftentimes referred to simply as algorithms – pose an interesting puzzle for organization scholars. They seem particularly helpful for organizing, as their abilities exceed the capacities of human experts. However, it is particularly this property which creates uncertainty about who can be able to claim expertise on such systems. In this project I explore how organizations and their stakeholders come to terms with the question of who can legitimately claim expertise on algorithmic systems. To do so, I conducted an in-depth field study of NYC, as the world’s first city that tried to regulate the use of automated decision systems in public organizations (in cooperation with Malte Ziewitz at Cornell University).

Digitality and Strategy: The practice turn in strategy research has allowed scholars to study strategy not just as something that organizations have, but as something that people in and around organizations do. In this project I explore how emerging technologies are changing how organizations cope with and prepare for an uncertain future. A key pillar of this project is a DFG-supported scientific network, which I successfully applied for together with Thomas Gegenhuber, Violetta Splitter and Georg Reischauer.

Knowledge and Organizing: When doing research on how new technologies shapes organizing, I became interested in how such very technologies reconfigure the way we perform organizational research. In this project I therefore study different interrelated phenomena of new and digitally-mediated scientific practices. This includes research on topics such as predatory journals, open peer review, shadow libraries and science slams. Through projects like the open and collaborative textbook "O2C2", I learn about these practices by performing them myself.


Journal articles

Book chapters

Scientific theses

Research reports

Comments, essays and discussion papers

Work in progress

↑ up

Invited talks and conference presentations

Media reports and interviews


PhD-Blog (Archive)

During my time as a PhD candidate I maintained a blog to document observations, experiences and open questions. I closed the blog when I lerned to enjoy other communication chanels (i.e. Twitter), but have archived some of my posts below.

↑ up

Conference and seminar organization

Reviewer activities

Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, Big Data & Society, Organization, Organization Studies, Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change, Journal of Management Inquiry, Journal of Trust Research, Momentum Quarterly, Policy & Internet, Public Administration Review, Strategic Management Society, WK ORG Workshop, Zeitschrift für Hochschulentwicklung

[Publons profile]

Academic membership

↑ up


Bots, Biases and Bottom Lines: Algorithms and Organizations


Algorithms have left the labs of computer scientists and entered all kinds of organizations. Recruiting, controlling, planning, product development: Today, much of the routine work that is done in organizations is supplemented or even replaced by data-centric automating technology. The proprietary, opaque, and constantly evolving algorithms of Google, Youtube and Twitter increasingly organize our digital public spheres. Recommendation engines shape our cultural tastes and patterns of consumption. In this graduate seminar, we examine the practices, cultures and imaginaries of algorithms in organizations. We also study how these technologies are introduced, maintained and contested in organizations. Drawing on case studies from fields such as ride-hailing, music streaming, web journalism or criminal justice, we shall explore how algorithms organize work and what work goes into the organization of algorithms.



This course provides an introductory overview of the formulation and implementation of organizational strategy. You learn how to analyze the strategic position of an organization and how to think about strategic choices. Against the backdrop of these concepts you will learn about a more recent sociological turn in strategy research, which studied strategy not as somethings that firms have but as something that people in organizations do. After successful completion of this module you will be able to discuss traditional heuristics for strategy making and reflect upon the practice of strategy making itself.

Open Organizations and Organizing Openness


Tesla, IBM, and the Wikipedia are just a few examples of organizations, which are – or at least claim to be – more open than others. In this course, we discuss openness as a current issue in management and organization studies. The goal of the course is to critically engage with the promises and practices of open organizing. Drawing on a range of theoretical lenses on openness, such as transparency, participation and inclusion, we explore contemporary phenomena of organizing. These phenomena include open source software communities, open strategy processes, open innovation projects and open government initiatives.


Undergraduate students

↑ up


Maximilian Heimstädt
Weizenbaum Institute
Hardenbergstraße 32
10623, Berlin

Tel. +49 162 6754947 (mobile)