Especially within the concept of Design Thinking, empathy plays a crucial role. Developing an “empathic mindset” shall help people to better understand the user’s point of view and to empathize with colleagues in a multidisciplinary team.
Furthermore, one can witness the increased emergence of empathy in the realm of management in the past decades (e.g. within emotional intelligence, other design-led approaches, positive organizational scholarship etc.). This is why it is my intention to focus on the analysis of empathy in the ambit of work and organization by using the example of Design Thinking.
As the literature about empathy in organizations claims, employees “feel right” when they act empathetically and acting empathetically is something that is truly positive. These statements parallel recent publications about the “empathic civilisation” or “the age of empathy”, which are convinced that empathy is genuinely positive and leads to a “better world“. Within my sociological thesis I therefore pose the question, which chances and possibilities for autonomous action for the individual can be demonstrated arising from what I call the “empathy program”. In my interview study I try to identify the manifold and sometimes ambivalent ways in which empathy in the workplace serves or fails to fulfill its purposes for the employee’s activity.