New forms of governance

With regard to the key topic “New Forms of Governance”, the iaw focuses its research on institutional forms and mechanisms of societal management, regulation and coordination. In recent years, this analytical perspective has not only been pursued in regard to the employment system but has also been extended to other societal functions: the development of economic and social structures and functional problems in the political-administrative system.

In the course of the severe social upheavals of recent decades, conventional forms of societal management, regulation and coordination have been and are being called into question from many perspectives. As a result, new “forms of governance” are emerging. This applies just as much to social security systems and the system of political institutions as to the economic or labour (market) systems.

Initially, these developments seemed to be leading to a comprehensive “economisation” or “marketisation” of social relations and functions. In the meantime, however, there is evidence to suggest that the development and implementation of market and competitive principles have come to a halt. Recently, there has apparently been a renaissance of state and civil society management and regulatory mechanisms. This renaissance is especially being intensified by the current financial and economic crisis, which can also be understood as a consequence of a globally deregulated governance structure.

Research perspectives
In this context, the iaw’s research perspective focuses on newly emerging forms of societal management, regulation and coordination at transnational, national and local levels. The core concern is the observation and analysis of current developments as well as their intended and unintended consequences. The aim is to identify the processes taking place in various functional areas of society and to determine their consequences for the actions of relevant actors.

The initial hypothesis is that as social constellations change, the existing networks of relationships in different fields of action between state and non-state institutions, associations, initiatives, groups or active citizens change, as do the relations between organisations, social groups and actors.

Research questions and practice
Given this description of the current situation, in its research fields Economy and Firms, Labour Systems and Labour Culture as well as Cities and Regions the iaw is investigating the following questions:

  • Which specific forms do the new mixtures of market, hierarchical, and negotiation- and trust-based forms of action coordination take in each case?
  • In which areas and under which conditions do they develop?
  • How does this affect processes of social adaptation and modernisation?


The iaw is committed to a research practice that understands the analysis and further development of scientific knowledge as the basis for providing scientifically sound services to actors in firms, politics and society. A key prerequisite for the relevance and utility of a working approach oriented towards practice, consulting and politics is a comprehensive understanding of different actors’ options for action and the conditions under which they operate. Particularly during complex change processes, explanations that help social actors to act and decide wisely are necessary and helpful.