Productive Uneasiness as a Driver of Knowledge Creation Processes in Humanities-Business Collaborations


  • Lise Tjørring
  • Martina Skrubbeltrang Mahnke
  • Matilde Lykkebo Petersen
  • Mikka Nielsen
  • Mark Vacher



Over the last few decades, Danish humanities researchers have become increasingly expected to engage in business collaborations that have an impact beyond academia. Although there is great willingness to work together, humanities-business collaborations are often tense affairs. This calls for a deeper understanding of the collaboration and knowledge creation processes. In this article, we develop the concept of productive uneasiness as a sensitizing tool to show how humanities scholars enable specific knowledge engagements. Examining three empirical examples, we discuss how emerging tension, discomfort, and the like come into play in business-humanities collaborations, and how accepting and engaging in this uneasiness can become productive, eventually leading to innovation. The aim of the article is to provide a tool for reflection for humanities and social science researchers wishing to engage in humanities-business collaborations and, more generally, to spark a discussion on how one of the core elements of the humanities – in-depth analysis of the intangible – can leverage business processes.

Author Biographies

Lise Tjørring

is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. She specializes in environmental anthropology and is currently conducting applied research for companies within the energy, climate, and environmental sector.

Martina Skrubbeltrang Mahnke

is an associate professor in Digital Humanities at Roskilde University, Denmark. Her research takes place at the crossroads between communication and digital media studies, and she engages mainly in questions related to algorithms and artificial intelligence, user-data relations, and users’ experiences of digital technology.

Matilde Lykkebo Petersen

PhD, focuses her research on digital health communication, the patient perspective, reproductive health technologies, and bodily and somatic experiences.

Mikka Nielsen

is a medical anthropologist working at VIVE, the Danish Centre for Social Science Research. Mikka specializes in the phenomenology of mental illnesses, ageing, experiences of suffering, welfare technology, and doctor-patient communication.

Mark Vacher

is an associate professor at the SAXO Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. He is a cultural analyst specializing in housing issues and urban anthropology. He focuses on gentrification and urban transformations and their impact on private homes, dwellings, and public domains.


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