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Photo: Tomas Bergman
Lena Abrahamsson, professor of Human work science. Photo: Tomas Bergman View original picture , opens in new tab/window

Professor Lena Abrahamsson is new Scientific leader for Creaternity

Published: 21 February 2022

Since January, Lena Abrahamsson is the new scientific leader for Luleå University of Technology's future area Creaternity together with Roland Larsson. She is very much looking forward to contributing with research that places people in the center of technological development.
– New technology is rarely the solution in itself. To enable better function and positive development, technological innovations and development work need to include knowledge of the interplay between technology and social aspects, she says.

How come you started researching in Human work sciences?

When I worked as a civil engineer at a consulting company that had various assignments on production and organisational development in industry, I became increasingly interested in how organisations work. I saw that work organisation was an important part of the work environment, productivity and functionality in the production system. At the same time, I had seen that concepts such as women, men and gender equality (or rather inequality) appeared as explanations among industrial companies as to why they had problems in their organisational changes. I wanted to find out more about that. I got a PhD position in a graduate school for women at Luleå University of Technology, and had the privilege of shaping my PhD project myself. I did it based on the problems I saw in the industry – with a plan to being able to help find solutions. This was of course quite naive, but it was (and still is) an important driving force for me in my research.

What are you researching right now?

The societal challenges and research themes that Creaternity covers are close to my own research that deals with production and organisational development, where the sustainable and attractive workplaces of the future, in combination with digitalisation and green transformation, are current issues. This also includes gender research and gender equality work. Theoretically, I am within the important and growing borderland between engineering and social sciences.

How does your research play a role in Creaternity?

We contribute with research that puts people at the center of technological development. It is important to critically analyse how the circular industrial and digital transformation (and its goal conflicts) affect the work and workplaces of the future. And to, based on this, contribute to new knowledge about integrated sustainable development for people, the environment and machines.

My idea is that the new circular and digital technology should be able to be used to simultaneously ensure a good working environment, and create innovative working methods and agile organisations (and thus sustainable and attractive workplaces). But more research is needed. New technology is rarely the solution in itself. To enable better function and positive development, technological innovations and development work need to include knowledge of the interplay between technology and social aspects.

What is the most fun discovery / result you have made / produced as a researcher?

One funny thing was when I was going to defend my dissertation. I managed to publish my PhD dissertation at a book publisher and after a while the first edition was sold out. I then had the privilege of publishing a second revised edition. Otherwise, I am usually quite happy when I notice that my research has had an impact, when my concepts and research results are used in industry and by other researchers.

What is the most fun / challenging part of being a part of Creaternity?

The circular industrial transformation takes place in a turbulent context where management-oriented production systems such as “lean production” meet the technology-oriented digitisation, Industry 4.0. There are many challenges to work with – both technical and social. What differs from previous technological leaps is that now it's for real, it's big and it's happening fast – and the 'circular' is a strong and important driver.

Why do you think Creaternity is important?

It is simply a matter of contributing to a better world.

Tell us a little about yourself!

I grew up in Kalix in a dynamic and fun environment where sports activities were mixed with art and literature. When I was going to study, I chose Luleå University, as it was called then, and the Master of Science in Industrial Work Environment because I was attracted by combining mathematics and science with working to give people a better life and health. After my degree, I worked for a few years with production development in the industry before I returned to the university in 1995 as a PhD student in Human work sciences. Now I have been a Professor of Human work sciences for over 15 years.

Privately, I am married and have both children and grandchildren. In my free time, there are many fun and interesting trips and pleasant construction projects around our house here in Luleå and one in the countryside in Råneå älvdal. In the summer there is canoeing, forest walks and orienteering. In the winter we ski and skate. I also enjoy photographing and reading crime fiction.