Research Landscape at ZU

The research landscape at ZU is based on research focuses and topics that have developed successfully over many years and are now largely established.
These include, 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 and Public management.

As an institution aware of its social responsibility, ZU pays special attention to two fundamental social transformations, which at the same time can be seen as central framework conditions of almost any research in economics, social sciences and humanities: On the one hand, it is a matter of dealing with the consequences of the dynamic process of globalization and, on the other hand, a concern with the effects of digitalization permeating all areas of life and everyday life. Within the framework of of its research, ZU wishes to take responsibility for how society deals with these central issues. 

With this in the background, four research clusters have received special funding in the form of personnel and material resources since 2019. These clusters represent the central research focuses of ZU:

1. Governance of Global Cooperation Networks

  • The research cluster deals with transnational networks and their role in innovative processes in business and politics. The central aim is to better understand the functioning of such networks.

  • 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, and the (democratic) legitimacy and accountability of transnational networks as a means of global cooperation in the context of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).

Speaker of the research cluster

2. Decision-Making Research

  • The aim of this research cluster is to investigate the course of individual and collective decision-making processes as well as the influence of information processing and institutional framework conditions on decision outcomes. Based on this, interventions to promote rational decision-making and socially acceptable collective decision-making processes will be developed. Decision-making processes will be investigated from the perspective of different disciplines (consumer research, cognitive psychology, political science and behavioral economics) using different empirical methods (EEG, eye tracking, NIRS, laboratory/field experiments, representative surveys, statistical analysis of process-produced data and behavior traces).

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

Speaker of the research cluster

Achtziger, Anja
Achtziger, Anja Prof Dr
Vice President Research |
Head of Center for Consumer, Markets & Politics | CCMP
Phone:+49 7541 6009-1376
Fax:+49 7541 6009-1399
Room:Semi 1.05

3. Arts Production and Cultural Policy in Transformation | ACPT

  • The research cluster "Arts Production and Cultural Policy in Transformation (ACPT)" deals with the analysis of the most important changes in the cultural field from the macro to the micro level. Due to its orientation towards real problems and issues, the research cluster is interdisciplinary. Specific questions relate in particular to the transformation of the following fields: Audiences and listeners, art practices and formats of exhibiting and staging, as well as cultural policies including the transformation of institutions and the emergence and impact of cultural policy discourses.

  • The cluster currently includes, among others, the international, multi-year research project "ECR - Experimental Concert Research" (VolkswagenStiftung, Offen für Außergewöhnliches) as well as the 2020 Horizon 2020 ITN doctoral training network "FEINART. The Future of European Independent Art Spaces in a Period of Socially Engaged Art". The chairs "WÜRTH Chair of Cultural Production", "Chair of General Media and Communication Studies" and "Chair of Art Theory & Staging Practice" cooperate on the topic of "Transformative Cultural Production". In addition, several dissertations as well as student research projects are based here.

Speaker of the research cluster

Tröndle, Martin
Tröndle, Martin Prof Dr
Phone:+49 7541 6009-1313
Fax:+49 7541 6009-1179
Room:FAB 3 | 1.37

4. Computational Social Science

  • The research cluster deals with the fundamental issue of whether and how the behavioral traces increasingly generated by the digitalization of the economy and everyday life can be used to measure, model, and ultimately predict economic and social behavior. Behavioral traces are broadly defined, ranging from transaction and consumption data to user and app logs in digital media to user-generated content in social media.

  • Specific issues relate in particular to the analysis and prediction of behavior based on data traces, the modeling and simulating of complex individual or social processes, the analysis of large data sets in the field of economics and social sciences, and the collection and evaluation of high-frequency and/or complex process data.

Speaker of the research cluster

Elff, Martin
Elff, Martin Prof Dr
Dean Faculty of Political and Social Sciences |
Academic Program Director SPE |
Speaker of the research cluster Computational Social Science |
Chair for Political Sociology
Phone:+49 7541 6009-1369
Fax:+49 7541 6009-3009
Room:FAB 3 | 1.81

These interdisciplinary and partly interdepartmental research clusters represent the strategic development of the university research landscape in different respect: Decision-Making Research and Arts Production and Cultural Policy in Transformation (ACPT) have already been established research focuses at ZU for many years, within the framework of which extensive third-party funding has been acquired and a high research output has been generated. Their funding within the framework of the research clusters further expands the existing potential. The topic of Governance of Global Cooperation Networks also ties in with existing research, which has been additionally expanded by the Chair of International Relations established in 2018. With the research cluster Computational Social Science, a new research focus is defined at ZU, which complements the research profile with digitalization, which is becoming increasingly important. New professorships to be established will further strengthen this area in the coming years.

Numerous other chair-related research topics are established in the departments and are part of the department-specific strategies. The framework conditions of globalization and digitalization also play an important role here with regard to the social responsibility of research. For these research topics, there is the possibility of advancing to the rank of a research cluster, provided that they have a corresponding performance and presence. Currently, for example, this applies to the research topic of sustainability, for which the European Center for Sustainability Research already exists, at which several third-party funded collaborative projects have been acquired, carried out and successfully completed.

Both in the research clusters and beyond, various research topics are often dealt with within the framework of externally funded research projects - both in individual projects and in collaborative projects, which are funded in particular by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG), various federal ministries, the European Commission and the largest academic research funding foundations. Research cooperations

also play an important role, ranging from individual cooperation in co-publications to institutional cooperation with universities in Germany and abroad.


von dem Berge, Benjamin
von dem Berge, Benjamin Dr
Head of Research Support Office
Phone:+49 7541 6009-1118
Fax:+49 7541 6009-1199
Room:Semi 2.44
Reimer, Nadine
Reimer, Nadine
Research Support Office | Manager Research Funding & Open Science
Phone:+49 7541 6009-2158
Fax:+49 7541 6009-1159
Room:Semi 2.45
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