Socio-Economic Working Group

The Socio-Economic Working Group (SEWG) was initiated in 2018, in the second phase of the NCCR Digital Fabrication, as a group of experts from the fields of psychology, economics, law, management, philosophy, and innovation research, and is coordinated by Gudela Grote, Professor of Work and Organizational Psychology at ETH Zurich. The SEWG’s mission is to conduct education and outreach activities to provide perspective and opportunity for all stakeholders in digital fabrication in architecture, engineering and construction for long term value creation and social benefit.

Outreach The SEWG hosts an annual symposium that serves as an open exchange platform for researchers and non-academic stakeholders. The symposia should help to develop a shared understanding of risks and opportunities of digitalisation in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) sector and to bring the digital transformation in AEC to fruition. In addition, the SEWG aims to produce policy briefs on technology developments and the impacts of implementation, legal requirements, and educational needs in the AEC sector for both general and targeted distribution.

Education – The SEWG supports the NCCR Digital Fabrication with its diverse expertise regarding potential impact and societal consequences of technological innovation by advising NCCR researchers and offering tailored workshops. It also develops teaching material on socio-technical design methods, techniques for impact assessment, and case studies.

The SEWG is always open to additional expertise as a resource for symposia, workshops, and other targeted activities. If you are interested in working with the SEWG, please contact Dr. Kaitlin McNally at

The second SEWG symposium is scheduled to take place in 2022. Please check back here for updates.

The 2019 SEWG Symposium report is available for download.

SEWG Members

Gudela Grote is Professor of Work and Organizational Psychology at the Department of Management, Technology, and Economics at ETH Zurich and the head of the SEWG. Her research focuses on the effects of new technologies on work and the management of uncertainty in teams.

David Hémous is an Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Zurich and an Affiliated Professor at the UBS Center. His research interests focus on economic growth, innovation, international trade and environmental economics. In particular, he has worked on the role of innovation for climate change policies, the impact of automation on income distribution and the link between innovation and top income inequality.

Chris Luebkeman is a geologist, structural engineer, and architect. He was previously director for Global Foresight + Innovation at Arup, a consulting firm of engineers and designers. He is now Head of the Foresight Team and advisor to the President and Board of ETH Zurich, supporting the intellectual community in its project of creating a vision of tomorrow and combining future thinking with contemporary action.

Vanessa Rampton is a Branco Weiss Fellow at the Institute for Health and Social Policy and Department of Philosophy at McGill University. Trained as a historian of ideas, she has a long-standing interest in how empirical examples can challenge commonly held assumptions about ideologies and the extent to which technological advances imply trade-offs or costs, and can be in tension with the wishes of those they purport to serve.

Jan-Egbert Sturm is Professor of Applied Macroeconomics as well as Director of the KOF Swiss Economic Institute at the ETH Zurich. He has a focus on monetary economics, macroeconomics as well as political economy and with a special interest in fields which are closely related to practical and current problems.

Isabelle Wildhaber is a Full Professor of private and business law with special emphasis on labour law, and a director of the Research Institute for Work and Employment Research (FAA-HSG) at the University of St. Gallen. Her research focuses include Labor Law 4.0, smart work, digitisation, liability law, risk and innovations, and automation and robotics.

Xinhua Wittmann is Professor at the School of Business of the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland and Managing Academic Director of the Swiss Chinese Case Study Center at the University of Zurich. Her research focuses on innovation management, cross-cultural competences and organisational behaviour.