Since at least the late 1960s, the Institute for Economic and Social History has established itself as an internationally-oriented and connected research institution that contributes to the reputation of Austria as an outstanding location for research. Our aim is not to follow short-run trends but rather to influence and shape the national and international research community with relevant contributions in our long-standing research areas.
Based on acquired reputation, we also aim to use our research capabilities and knowledge to advise and disseminate the insights from historical research to companies, political decision-makers, media and the wider public.
Our research in economic, social and business history rests on at least four pillars: First, on our contributions to analyze and understand the history of Austria and Central and Eastern Europe. Until at least the 1990s this was the principal research agenda of the institute, particularly regarding the interwar period, which is a subject of extreme relevance both for the understanding of modern Austria and for the personal interests of an entire generation of scholars born in or shortly after the wartime years. This focus still occupies an important part of our research, but has since been diversified both temporally and geographically.
A second focus is on the evolution of world trade and the conditions for market integration and disintegration especially during the nineteenth century, when an integrated global economy emerged for the first time. This nineteenth-century world economy disintegrated at least partially between 1913 and 1950.
A third focus is an extension of our research on Austria: It traces long-run economic, social and political developments in individual countries within the context of global developments. Here, research on Austria, Japan, Denmark and Spain has been carried out on topics related to the changing role of economic policy and the state, the regulation of labor and industrial relations, the impact of relations of power between elites and the population in different social contexts (including alternative social movements and environments), and on the relations and conflicts between national institutions and the international division of labor.
Finally, we also work on the history of concepts and the development of theory in modern economics.
Detailed information on current and finished research projects can be found (here); the WU Research-Information-Documentation-Evaluation-System (FIDES) lists all projects and research outputs in detail.