Occupational sciences and management practices in the West German coal industry 1945–1989

The economic and political development in the coal industry in the post-war period created the demand for a change in the practice of business management. Increasingly, studies in occupational science and their resulting forecasts were used as a guide to eliminate the problems in the organisational structure of operations and labour in order to establish a qualified and effective core workforce.

The problem of labour shortages, the challenge of successfully integrating a large number of new workers, and the growing deterioration in the social working environment in the coal mines increased the demand for a new or alternative form of management within the coal industry. In addition to this, the mid- and upper levels of management in the collieries increasingly made use of studies and findings from management/business studies as a means of solving contemporary problems and challenges. Different scientific disciplines, such as social psychology and the social sciences, addressed the question of an improved form of business management, workplace design and company social policy, in order to bring about a change in the criticised style of leadership.
In order to investigate the contemporary challenges of the coal industry and the accompanying attempts to solve them at the level of operational policy, this sub-project investigates and correlates both operational practices and the discourse within management/business studies.
Operational practices represent a crucial area in the transformation process of the coal industry. On the one hand, their development is coupled with prevailing political, social and economic conditions and provides an insight into how mining companies dealt with crises and economic cycles. On the other hand, they clarify the experience and expectation of the actors working in the coal mining industry, from which one can study the question of whether a change in the industry model took place and whether a specific culture of innovation in the management of the coal industry developed.

Project Lead

Dr. Lars Bluma

Host institution

German Mining Museum Bochum (Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum)

Financial Support



Prof. Dr. Dieter Ziegler (Supervisor), Department of History, Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB)


since 2015