Zahnräder Network

// Goals

Zahnräder is an organization from Muslims for society. It is an enabling and encouraging platform which provides human, social and financial capital as well as motivation and credibility. The idea is to facilitate, to teach how to fish, not to give fish. Knowledge of all types is transferred – from tacit to explicit, individual to social, declarative, procedural, causal, conditional, relational to pragmatic knowledge. Similarly networks are built and a tertius iungens orientation (Obstfeld, 2005) of trying to connect people from your network with each other encouraged.

I generally ask people when they meet another person to think about two things:

  1. How can I help this person?
  2. How can this person help people in my network?

This is a mentality shift of always attempting to help everyone around you which I experienced in Oxford from so many of my colleagues. It is a wonderful and helpful way of approaching others. And it benefits Zahnräder, too.

Ability Usability
Internal Human Capital Cultural Capital, Motivation
External Social Capital Financial Capital, Credibility

Zahnräder transforms individual energy into collective movement. Together, the Räder – wheels or gears – create change in and for society. We are functioning thereby as a complement, not a substitute to existing organizations – enabling & encouraging changemakers.

// Structure

Currently, over 60 people are involved in the organization of Zahnräder. Communication is primarily online via skype, basecamp and email. We are organized in a matrix-like organization with functional groups on the horizontal and working groups on the vertical axis. Functional groups are inter alia finance, communication and IT. Working groups are the conference team and ZahnräderX local teams.

// The national conference

The national conference is currently the heart of Zahnräder. Over 100 participants come together – all of them as producers and no one just as a consumer. It is all about sharing: sharing knowledge, sharing your network, sharing what drives you, your goals, your ambitions, your vision. Participants speak about their projects, receive feedback, knowledge. Some join projects they encounter some recommend it to their friends.

// Quo vadis?

We managed to shift from a starting phase to a growth phase. We intend to have over 120 Zahnräder involved in the organization primarily by extending our functional and working groups. The idea is to be sustainable internally and provide sustainable services externally. From October onwards, we are aiming to have a Human Resource and from December onwards an Internal Communication functional group. Also, we plan to establish a Zahnräder think tank.

socio-academic entrepreneurship. the term.

I was asked a couple of times where I got this term from: “socio-academic entrepreneurship” or “socio-academic entrepreneur”. Well, I coined in when researching the interaction of academic entrepreneurs and potential academic entrepreneurs at the University of Oxford. Somehow, I felt that research does not just – or primarily – follow Mertonian norms. And some academics specifically seemed to focus on socio-academic teaching, researching and “entrepreneuring”. This does not mean that they neglected fundamental research (and I strongly believe in the value of fundamental research, too).

I felt, that both ability and motivation were and are often embedded in a new symbiotic nature. Rather than a social entrepreneur trained in academic knowledge or an academic entrepreneur commercializing research through a technology transfer with some social attributes, the socio-academic entrepreneur employs consciously academic research to become a social entrepreneur.

// A symbiotic creation

Academic knowledge hereby does not just enable, and the social motivation does not just encourage; the symbiotic creation leads to a shift in the academic and social practice itself. Rather than acting with Mertonian disinterest socio-academic entrepreneurs act with specific social interests utilizing entrepreneurial means. They form a symbiotic creation and are not a substitute but an enriching compliment in today’s and tomorrow’s world.

// Ambidextrous innovators

Academic knowledge does not just enable, and the social motivation does not just encourage; the symbiotic creation leads to a shift in the academic and social practice itself. Socio-academic entrepreneurs will have to be ambidextrous. They will not only be changemakers but equally conscious preservers. They will have to balance themselves internally and balance themselves externally with respect to the academic community. This is the destiny innovators suffer.