In modern societies, organizations are ubiquitous. Because of their complexity and diversity, their broad network effects, and their impact on people, organizations and their embeddedness in society constitute an important sociological research area. The institute’s research focus is further divided into subfields: Nonprofit organizations, qualitative organizational analysis, and power and gender in organizations.

Civil Society and Nonprofit-Organizations

This area deals with civil society, its political significance, framework conditions, and effects. Related research questions include the organization, leadership, and organizational principles of social movements. In connection with the topic of nonprofit organizations (NPOs), the focus is on their organizational forms, social functions, and modes of operation. The NPO sector is very heterogeneous: In addition to large, traditional aid organizations, some of which operate worldwide, there are a large number of local initiatives, such as environmental protection or human rights organizations, cooperatives, self-help, or local associations. The empirical and analytical studies deal with the special features and similarities of these organizations, their further development, their conflicts, management, and control, as well as their social relevance and impact.

Qualitative organizational analysis

The institute’s research in qualitative organizational analysis aims to enhance the understanding of organizational processes and covers two subfields: (1) On a basic theoretical level, organizational transformations are examined, how organizations change and stabilize, which driving forces appear, and how governance and spontaneous emergence mutually relate (in cooperation with the Department of Sociology, University of Vienna). (2) In terms of content, the research focuses on family businesses. Studies, mostly interdisciplinary, examine the intersection of and relationships between both social systems: the family and the company. Strategies for the safeguarding of intergenerational businesses are analyzed as well as the question how entrepreneurial families meet the challenges presented by economic and social changes (in cooperation with WU’s Institute for Family Business).

Power and Gender in Organizations

Power and inequality are key issues when studying organizations. Feminist scholars have found that gendered substructures of organizations shape the opportunities and pitfalls of women’s professional careers. Gender substructures show in the gender segregation of positions or in the gendering of symbols and images that legitimate male majority in positions of power. Despite the fact that male domination prevails in modern organizations, scholars in the field acknowledge the diversity of organizations and the complexity of power dynamics. As a result, equal opportunity policies have become an important topic in researching power and gender in organizations. A special focus of the institute’s research lies on the gendering of academic careers in managerial universities, and on the prospects for emancipatory practices and measures of equal opportunity. Today, a significant part of the research on power and gender in organization also devotes itself to questions of intersectionality, which is an approach focusing on the aggravation of inequality risks for women based on social or migration background, age, or physical handicaps. Conversely, studying inequality from an intersectionality perspective means to address opportunities for compensating gender discrimination with high-level education or privileges of social background.