Postdoc on Ethnography of Robots at work

Postdoc on Ethnography of Robots at work

Published Deadline Location
30 Jan 28 Jul Amsterdam
Are you an experienced ethnographic researcher with a PhD on the topic of technology and work? Then consider applying for a postdoc to continue your research and specialize on the topic of robotics at work!

Job description

Despite robots increasingly entering our work lives, we know surprisingly little about their impact on jobs. Engineers are excited to build intelligent robotic applications with the aim to alleviate difficult, risky, or boring jobs, such as cleaning, bomb diffusion, transportation of goods or surveillance. Labor economists and public commentators, in turn, put forward gloomy scenarios of jobs becoming obsolete, degraded or void of meaning. Currently, however, we lack a rigorous insight into how robots are really used in situated work practice. Without such insight, engineers are in the dark about what impact robots have on work and have few methods of including work context into account when building robotic applications. This NWO-funded Vidi project aims to generate such insight by conducting several ethnographic studies of professional service robots at work.

In this context, we are looking for a candidate to fill one Postdoc position for a duration of two years. Starting date is flexible throughout 2024 and will be agreed on with the suitable candidate.

The postdoc will conduct ethnographic research under the supervision of dr. Anastasia V. Sergeeva and will be based at the KIN Center for Digital Innovation at the Vrije Universiteit. KIN research focuses on the development, use and business value of innovative organizational processes and technologies. This research center is a home to a multi-disciplinary group of researchers, with academic backgrounds in business administration, sociology, communication science, anthropology, philosophy, engineering, and computer science. The research contributes to an international field that is relatively new and multi-disciplinary. We work closely together with faculty and researchers from other universities and cooperate with an extensive network of business partners.

  • You will design and conduct ethnographic studies of robotics focusing on how they are developed in the lab and how they are later used on the work floor.
  • You will be performing ethnographic fieldwork, conducting literature review, writing empirical research papers for conferences and journals, and presenting at conferences.
  • You will contribute to teaching.
  • You will also collaborate with industry partners and organize workshops and symposia, disseminating your findings.


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)


  • PhD in Business Administration, Management, Sociology, or related social science field. Candidates close to defending their PhD are also invited to apply
  • Strong experience with qualitative inductive research methods and ideally strong experience with ethnographic research
  • Excellent academic skills; demonstrated for example by the quality of publications or conference papers
  • Motivation to do high quality qualitative research
  • Ability to combine creative and analytical thinking
  • Flexible and communicative skills required to collaborate with industrial partner(s)
  • Excellent English language skills; Dutch language proficiency is a significant advantage due to the need to conduct ethnography among Dutch speaking employees

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 1 year.

A challenging position in a socially engaged organisation. At VU Amsterdam, you contribute to education, research and service for a better world. And that is valuable. So in return for your efforts, we offer you:
  • a salary of minimum € 3.226,00 (Scale 10) and maximum € 5.090,00 (Scale 10) gross per month, on a full-time basis. This is based on UFO profile Researcher 4. The exact salary depends on your education and experience.
  • a position for at least 0.8 FTE. Your employment contract will initially last 1 year. Afterwards, the possibility of expansion for another year exists.

We also offer you attractive fringe benefits and regulations. Some examples:
  • A full-time 38-hour working week comes with a holiday leave entitlement of 232 hours per year. If you choose to work 40 hours, you have 96 extra holiday leave hours on an annual basis. For part-timers, this is calculated pro rata.
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • solid pension scheme (ABP)
  • optional model for designing a personalized benefits package
  • contribution to commuting expenses


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

School of Business and Economics
We at the School of Business and Economics (SBE) at VU Amsterdam bring together socially relevant teaching and research in the areas of business administration and economics. We focus on real-life issues that have a huge impact on society, economics and ecology: from robotics to big data, and from job market participation to change management.

Collaboration and cooperation, transparency and social responsibility are four keywords that embody our approach. Students, researchers and staff at SBE share real-world knowledge in order to devise solutions together to global economic and social challenges. In order to make a positive impact on the world, society and the lives of others.

Are you interested in joining SBE? You will work in a stimulating, dynamic and international environment with motivated colleagues dedicated to helping society make informed choices. SBE employs roughly 600 staff, with 7,250 students enrolled in the Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes and 1,700 executive students.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam stands for values-driven education and research. We are open-minded experts with the ability to think freely. - a broader mind. Maintaining an entrepreneurial perspective and concentrating on diversity, significance and humanity, we work on sustainable solutions with social impact. By joining forces, across the boundaries of disciplines, we work towards a better world for people and planet. Together we create a safe and respectful working and study climate, and an inspiring environment for education and research. Learn more about our codes of conduct

We are located on one physical campus, in the heart of Amsterdam's Zuidas business district, with excellent location and accessibility. Over 5,500 staff work at the VU and over 30,000 students attend academic education.

Diversity is the driving force of the VU. The VU wants to be accessible and receptive to diversity in disciplines, cultures, ideas, nationalities, beliefs, preferences and worldviews. We believe that trust, respect, interest and differences lead to new insights and innovation, to sharpness and clarity, to excellence and a broader understanding.

We stand for an inclusive community and believe that diversity and internationalisation contribute to the quality of education, research and our services.

Therefore, we are always searching for people whose backgrounds and experience contribute to the diversity of the VU community.

Additional information

Are you interested in this position and do you believe that your experience will contribute to the further development of our university? In that case, we encourage you to submit your application.

The position will stay open until filled with the most fitting candidate.

Submitting a diploma is part of the application process.

Applications received by e-mail will not be considered.

Acquisition in response to this advertisement is not appreciated.


  • Postdoc
  • Economics
  • €3226—€5090 per month
  • University graduate
  • 3707


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)

Learn more about this employer


De Boelelaan 1105, 1081HV, Amsterdam

View on Google Maps

Interessant voor jou


Apply for this job

Apply for this job

This application process is managed by the employer (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)). Please contact the employer for questions regarding your application.

Thank you for applying

Please contact the employer for questions regarding your application.

Tip: save this job as favorite in your AcademicTransfer account. This gives you an immediate overview and makes it easy to find the job later on. No account yet? Create it now and take advantage of other useful functionalities too!

Application procedure

Application procedure

Make sure to apply no later than 28 Jul 2024 16:03 (Europe/Amsterdam).