Prof. Dr. Stephan Zelewski | Production and Industrial Information Management

Personal Details

Professor Zelewski studied business administration and economics at the University of Cologne and the University of Muenster He received his Ph.D. in business administration from the University of Cologne in 1985 with a thesis on achievement potential of artificial intelligence from both a business and computer science point of view under the supervision of Professor Dr. Werner Kern. He earned his postdoctoral lecturer qualification from the same university in 1993 with a thesis on structuralist production theory with special focus on theory construction and analysis from the so-called "non statement view" of scientific theories. In the same year, he became full professor at the University of Leipzig and held the chair of Production and Industrial Information Management. In 1998 he was appointed as a full professor at the University of Essen (now University of Duisburg-Essen) to hold the chair of Production and Industrial Information Management.


Well-founded decision making in the area of production management requires analytical and constructive skills to be able to solve complex real production problems in an optimal or at least satisfactory way. Therefore, students are trained in the application and critical evaluation of business-oriented techniques and scientific methods in order to solve realistic, difficult structured problems. The scope of techniques and methods covers "hard skills" like specific mathematical tools, for example stemming from decision theory, operations research and artificial intelligence, and it also includes "soft skills" like strategic managing thinking and solving Harvard Business School’s case studies. This way of training intends to cultivate the students' competencies with respect to solving new and crucial problems in business practice throughout the many years after their studies at the university. Courses especially on operational, tactical and strategic production management (including supply chain management), production planning and control systems (e.g. software products of SAP), project management techniques and a large number of specialized seminars concerning subjects such as business case studies, entrepreneurship and research-oriented projects provide a broad deepened insight into many problems of business practice and scientific theories. These courses demonstrate how not only well approved, but also advanced scientific methods can successfully be applied both to practical and theoretical problems.


The research focus of Professor Zelewski covers three main areas: firstly the application of formal and computer supported techniques to economic problems, secondly the transfer of ideas descending from computer science and artificial intelligence research to economic problems, and thirdly the critical analysis and innovative construction of formal economic theories, especially in the field of production research.
Special attention is referred to problems from the following fields:

  • Advanced operations research techniques like analytic hierarchy / network process, data envelopment analysis and Petri nets,
  • Construction and evaluation of decision models, especially with respect to the “optimal” selection of process or system alternatives,
  • Analysis and critical evaluation of state-of-the-art concepts concerning production planning and control,
  • Applications of game theory to economic problems,
  • Exploration of innovative knowledge management techniques, especially stemming from artificial intelligence research, e.g. knowledge-based multi agent systems, ontologies and assumption-based truth maintenance systems,
  • Reconstruction of theories stemming from production and information systems research from the structuralist “non statement view”,
  • General study of scientific methodology and theories, especially the structuralist programme of scientific inquiry and the analytic philosophy of science.

Selected recent research projects have been:

  • management of alliances ("virtual companies") between local and supra-regional rail traffic companies with special regard to operations / logistics management and customer acquisition,
  • critical evaluation of modern production planning and control concepts,
  • application of ontologies to competence and quality management,
  • application of game theory to the "fair" distribution of efficiency gains in supply webs,
  • evaluation of productivity (efficiency) in complex settings like supply webs and knowledge production at universities,
  • set theory-based assessment and ordinal measurement of scientific progress with help of instruments developed by the "non statement view" of scientific theories.

Professor Zelewski repeatedly reviews on behalf of the German Research Foundation (DFG) and has authored numerous scientific publications which appeared in refereed journals like International Journal of Production Research, International Journal of Operations and Quantitative Management, Zeitschrift für Operations Research, Journal for General Philosophy of Science, Management Research News, Information Management, and many others. His former and recent research projects were and are supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG), the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, and the European Community. Professor Zelewski was President of the Scientific Commission for Research Methodology, a subgroup of the German Academic Association for Business Research. He is one of three editors of the publication series "Information - Organisation - Produktion" for outstanding research contributions, and he frequently is a member in program committees of national and international conferences (especially in the field of research methodologies and information systems research). Professor Zelewski cooperated not only with well known companies like BMW, Roland Berger and SAP, but also with small and medium-sized companies like Comma Soft, DMT, Gfos, KSM Maschinenbau and National-Bank Essen.