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Review SPP 1921 funding period 2016-2024

Do we have to remember and consider every piece of information in organizations or can and should we deliberately forget unused and irrelevant information? The SPP 1921 tandem teams investigated these questions. They first identified the areas of application of intentional forgetting in office or production activities. These areas of application ranged from suppressing unwanted thoughts or habits, to production routines and rules, to decision-making situations and knowledge about team roles, to computer-aided development and design processes.
The tandem projects then investigated factors that stimulate intentional forgetting. Should forgetting be directly instructed or is it enough to “simply learn something new” and thus “overwrite” the old? Is it enough to “simply not think back” to something in order to forget it or does the forgetting process require active monitoring? The empirical studies on these questions showed that it becomes more difficult to induce intentional forgetting and achieve concrete forgetting effects without digital assistants and solutions as the proximity to concrete work situations and requirements increases. The more people are left to their own strategies when it comes to intentional forgetting, the greater the influence of personal variables such as self-regulatory cognitive control strategies, forgetting content-related self-efficacy and individual memory. However, the effect of specific forgetting requirements in a professional context should not be underestimated either - in particular, it does not seem to be as easy as assumed to stop doing something that has been practiced well and performed fluently. On the other hand, people are cognitively willing (or quick) to part with work rules that are cumbersome if they can instead carry out procedures that are perceived as more convenient.
Nevertheless, the digital solutions developed in the tandems proved to be beneficial and be used to specifically support intentional forgetting if these solutions are experienced as trustworthy and reliable. Systems that enable the “offloading” of irrelevant information and memories, such as decision support systems, desktop assistants that actively control forgetting processes or forgetting AI systems in quality assurance that adapt to new quality requirements, are perceived as helpful tools for flexibly adapting to changing requirements in a digitalized working environment. Digital systems inspired by human cognitive processes thus enable a pleasant working experience in the context of constantly growing amounts of information and adaptation requirements.

"Intentional Forgetting in Organizations" as a DFG priority program

Overall project

Forgetting is often negatively rated and involves fears of losing important information. However, the current changes in the world of work mean that users and information systems must deal with ever-increasing volumes of data and information. Intentional, controlled forgetting becomes the functional counterpart of data collection and learning.

In 2015, the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft; DFG) set up 18 priority programs (PPs). One of these is entitled “Intentional Forgetting in Organizations – Mechanisms of forgetting as ways for organizations to adapt to an environment in which the amount of information is constantly growing” (PP 1921). The program is led by Prof. Dr. Annette Kluge and Prof. Dr.-Ing. Norbert Gronau (University of Potsdam) as coordinators.

The aims of the planned PP are:

• To utilize the mechanisms of human forgetting for a technical and organizational context.
• To further develop currently existing organizational theories with respect to the question of how the processes, employees, technologies and structures of the organization can be matched with the amount of information generated within and outside of the organization by enabling the information systems in organizations to forget.
• To develop, in an interdisciplinary manner, new methods and transmission paths for organizations in order to find a balance between continually growing amounts of stored information and a reduction of information through forgetting.

The first phase of the approved priority program launched in Autumn 2016 with 9 projects. The research questions and individual projects of PP 1921 are designed in an interdisciplinary manner and are investigated in so-called tandem projects. Between the projects a content exchange takes place in regular workshops and conferences. A coordination office has been set up for this purpose.

Posters of the final kolloquium SPP 1921.

Adapt Pro Screen
Coffee Poster
Cyber-physical Forgetting Poster
Dare2del Poster
Fadep Poster
Getrost Vergessen Poster
iVAA Poster
Managed Forgetting Poster