Research Landscape at ZU

The research landscape of ZU is based on focal research points and topics that have developed successfully over many years are by now largely established.

Among these are, in particular, research projects on Family businesses, Decision making, Financial systems, Cultural production, Leadership, Innovation, Globalization, Digitalization, Consumption and consumer behavior, Media, Mobility, Sustainability, Political institutions, Formation of political will, Administration 4.0, Public management.

As an institution aware of its social responsibility, ZU is paying particular attention to two fundamental social transformations, which can be seen both as the central framing conditions for almost every economic, social and humanistic academic research project. On the one hand is a critical analysis of the consequences of the dynamic process of globalization and on the other a concern with digitalization that has penetrated every area of life and everyday routine. As part of its research, ZU wishes to take on responsibility for the social handling of these central topics.

With this as a background, we have since 2019 been promoting four research clusters in a special way with staff and material resources. These clusters represent the central focal points of research for ZU:

1. Global Networks

  • The research cluster deals with transnational networks and their role in innovative processes in the economy and in politics. The central aim is to better understand the way in which these networks function.

  • Specific issues relate in particular to the impact and regulation of transnational networks (epistemic networks, professional networks, advocacy networks, etc.), the interaction of transnational networks with intergovernmental organizations, the innovative capability of transnational networks, as well as the (democratic) legitimacy and accountability of transnational networks as a means of global collaboration in the context of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).


Zimmermann, Lisbeth
Zimmermann, Lisbeth Prof Dr

2. Computational Social Science

  • The research cluster deals with the fundamental issue of whether and how the increasing behavior trails brought about by the digitization of the economy and everyday life can be used to measure, model, and ultimately predict economic and social attitudes. Behavior trails are broadly defined, from transaction and consumer data via user and app logs in digital media, right through to user-generated content in social media.

  • Specific issues relate in particular to analyzing and predicting behavior on the basis of data trails, modeling and simulating complex individual or social processes, analyzing large volumes of data in the field of economics and social sciences, as well as collecting and analyzing high-frequency and/or complex process data.


Elff, Martin
Elff, Martin Prof Dr

3. Decision-Making Research

  • The aim of this research cluster is to investigate the sequence of individual and collective decision-making processes, as well as the impact of information processing and institutional frameworks on the outcomes of decisions. Building on this, the aim is to devise interventions that promote rational decisions and socially acceptable, collective decision-making processes. In the process, decision-making processes are investigated from the point of view of various disciplines (consumer research, cognitive psychology, political science, and behavioral economics) using various empirical methods (EEG, eye tracking, NIRS, labor/field experiments, representative surveys, statistical analysis of process-produced data and behavior trails).

  • Specific issues relate in particular to the following aspects: automatic and controlled decision-making processes, motivation and monetary incentives, as well as their impact on decisions in social, political, and economic contexts, ethical decisions in business and finance, and the development of (digital) tools to promote psychological/ethical skills, determinants of corruption and cooperation, consumer decisions, and the impact of institutional frameworks on (political) decisions.


Achtziger, Anja
Achtziger, Anja Prof Dr

4. Arts Production and Cultural Policy in Transformation | ACPT

  • The research cluster deals with analyzing the most important changes in the cultural field from the macro-level to the micro-level, categorized under the topics of viewers and listeners, practices and styles, as well as political entities (discourse and its institutionalization). Owing to its focus on real problems and issues, the research cluster is interdisciplinary in its approach.

  • Specific issues relate in particular to the transformation of the following fields: viewers and listeners, artistic practices, styles, publicly funded institutions, cultural policy decision-making processes, and policies (and the associated impact on cultural policy).


Tröndle, Martin
Tröndle, Martin Prof Dr

More information

These research clusters, interdisciplinary and in part extending across departments, are from various points of view representative for the strategic development of the University research landscape: decision-making research and cultural production have for many years been established focal points of research at ZU, bringing in extensive external funding and generating a high level of research output. Their promotion within the research cluster continues to extend the existing potential. The topic of Governance of Global Cooperation Networks also links up with prior research additionally extended by the Chair of International Relations set up in 2018. The research cluster of Computational Social Sciences defines a new focal point of research at ZU, one which supplements the research profile around the increasingly important topic of digitalization. Professorships to be newly created will further strengthen this area in the years to come.

Numerous other other research topics linked to Chairs are embedded in the specialist departments and form part of the department-specific strategies. With regard to social responsibility of research, the general conditions of globalization and digitalization also have an important part to play here. Given a corresponding performance and presence, there is also a possibility for these topics to move up and become a research cluster. Currently, for example, this affects the research topic of sustainability, for which the European Center for Sustainability Research already exists, where many externally funded joint projects have been secured, carried out and successfully completed.

Both within and in addition to the research clusters, different research topics are frequently worked on as part of externally funded research projects – both as single and also as joint projects, which are promoted particularly by the German Research Association (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG), various Federal German ministries, the European Commission and also the largest academic research foundations. Research cooperation also plays an important part, ranging from individual collaboration in co-publications to institutional cooperation with universities within Germany and abroad.


Lucarelli, Ute
Lucarelli, Ute Dr phil
Head of Research Funding
Phone:+49 7541 6009-1114
Fax:+49 7541 6009-1199
Room:Semi 2.44
von dem Berge, Benjamin
von dem Berge, Benjamin Dr
Consultant Research Funding
Phone:+49 7541 6009-1118
Fax:+49 7541 6009-1199
Room:Semi 2.45
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