The Proof of the Pudding is in the Eating—but What was the Pudding in the First Place? A Proven Unconferencing Approach in Search of Its Theoretical Foundations


  • Patricia Wolf ETH Zurich
  • Peter Troxler unBla Rotterdam



conference, knowledge transformation, creation of structural links, perspective taking


This article outlines how unconferencing contributes to the vision of a performative social science that aims at stimulating social change. The authors argue that conference participation is an integral part of research and has the potential to support social change by enabling learning processes. They then develop an unconferencing model from the theoretical reflection of different theories from social science which reveals that unconferences support individual and social learning processes through enabling knowledge transformation as well as through creating structural links between societal sub systems. Using the example of an elaborated unconferencing concept called UnBla (i.e., to remove the blah-blah) which has proven to work well, the authors explain how the theoretical principles of unconferencing are applied in reality and what the outcomes of unconferences can be. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0802614


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Author Biographies

Patricia Wolf, ETH Zurich

Patricia WOLF, Prof. Dr. rer. pol., is Professor of General Management and Research Director of the Institute of Management and Regional Economics at Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (Switzerland). At the same time, she is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Psychology of Work at ETH Zurich (Switzerland) and Visiting Professor of Knowledge and Innovation Management at University of Caxias dos Sul (Brazil). Patricia holds a doctor degree in Business Administration from University Witten Herdecke, Germany and is actually finishing her studies on Sociology, Philosophy, and Literature at FernUniversität Hagen, Germany. Her main research interests cover knowledge transformation and innovation management in social systems (regions, organisations, groups).Patricia WOLF is a founding member of unBla.

Peter Troxler, unBla Rotterdam

Peter TROXLER, Dr. sc. techn., MSc ETH , works as a senior project manager for the Waag Society in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, the Dutch media lab and avant-garde think-tank in the fields of networked art in healthcare, culture, society and education. Peter has worked in academia as a researcher at ETH Zurich, Switzerland and as a research manager at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. As a consultant, he supports organisations in the private and public sector building management systems for the knowledge economy. His main interests are cross-disciplinary issues at the interface of psychology, IT and engineering, management science, and civil society, and he is said to be a passionate facilitator.




How to Cite

Wolf, P., & Troxler, P. (2008). The Proof of the Pudding is in the Eating—but What was the Pudding in the First Place? A Proven Unconferencing Approach in Search of Its Theoretical Foundations. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 9(2).