Headergrafik - Business School

Chair of Social Business

Our Research

We study organizations creating social or environmental impact in an entrepreneurial way.

In particular, we focus on three research areas:

Social Business and Social Entrepreneurship

  • Typology of Social Business Models
  • Social Identity Formation Processes in Social Entrepreneurship
  • Sector Change: How do for-profit managers handle change to the social sector?

Cross-Sector Social Partnerships

  • Legitimacy of cross-sector social partnerships, the example of “Disaster Response Teams” of Deutsche Post / DHL and UN OCHA
  • Dynamics of multiple institutional logics, the case of refugee integration in Germany

Management of Nonprofit Organizations

  • Governance of nonprofit organisations
  • Coordination of volunteers
  • Organizational identity
  • Professionalization

Studies and Publications

Social Business Models – a typology (2017): In this publication we differentiate between integrated, partly-integrated as well as differentiated social business models. Using a broad range of examples from various countries and sectors, we show that social business models differ in two parameters: the degree of integration of the beneficiaries as well as the allocation of resources to create economic and social value.

Study on Corporate Social Innovation (2016): We analyzed success factors for Corporate Social Innovation projects of multinational corporations from different sectors which meet a real social demand and contribute to growth and profitability of the firm. In the study, we identify three critical success factors: partnerships with players from different sectors, a targeted social approach which allows leveraging existing corporate capabilities, and a dedicated budget combined with a committed team.

Leadership in Social Enterprise – How to manage yourself and the team (2014): This manual was developed in cooperation with Schwab Foundation supported by Prof. Dr. Anna Krzeminska from Leuphana University / University of Queensland. Based on numerous interviews with experienced social entrepreneurs and their teams as well as a global survey the study identifies crucial leadership challenges in social enterprises, e.g. concerning building a functioning management team, searching and preparing successors, delegating responsibilities, allocating time and energy of the founders as well as aligning staff and stakeholder groups with many different interests.

Social innovation in Germany (2012-13): In a comprehensive research project on social innovation in Germany the World Vision Center for Social Innovation and the EBS Chair for Social Business analyzed how social innovators can contribute in addressing the grand challenges in the areas of employment, education, income as well as environment and health. A number of studies have been developed in this context, e.g.:

  • Mapping the Various Meanings of Social Innovation: Towards a Differentiated Understanding of an Emerging Concept (2012)
  • Germany 2030: Challenges as chances as chances for social innovation (2013)
  • Social Innovations: Expert opinions on the status quo and future directions (2013)
  • Mechanisms of social innovations (2013)

The Governance of Social Enterprises - Managing Your Organization for Success (2012): Building on the results of the Social Investment Manual (2011), this publication has also been developed in collaboration with the Schwabfoundation and the Technical University Munich. The focus lies on the question how social enterprises can protect the social mission of their organization through chosing the appropriate governance structures.

Social Investment Manual (2011): The EBS Chair of Social Business collaborated with the Schwabfoundation and the Technical University Munich in the development of this manual, which serves as a toolkit for practitioners and illustrates how social investments can provide the chance to scale up the impact of social enterprises tremendously, but it can also lead to unintended consequences, such as a change in strategic direction, a divergence from the original values and mission of the enterprise, a distancing from direct engagement with the community it is serving, or a loss of control over the organizational culture.


CSR and Transformational Learning (Tarik El Bouyahyani): We examine how CSR and the social engagement of organizations, through transformative learning, not only changes the recipients of CSR, but also the company and its employees.

Women’s pathways to leadership (Elena Greguletz): This doctoral thesis uses a mix of qualitative and quantitative research methods and looks at personal, interpersonal, and societal barriers to career advancement of female leaders.

Organizational tensions in social enterprises (Elisabeth Niendorf): This dissertation project aims at analyzing types and mechanisms of organizational tensions in social enterprises and analyzes how certain types of business models and management competencies can decrease the risk for so called ‘mission drifts’ and increase the sustainability of social enterprises.

Organisational identity formation and change (Anna M. Pleser): This dissertation project aims to investigate how founders of social businesses influence the formation of organisational identity based on their leadership style. Moreover, the change of identity within organisations is examined to understand how organisations balance the question of ‘who we are’ in times of organisational change.

Social Identity Formation Processes in the Context of Social Entrepreneurship (Franziska Schwarzer): Membership criteria of the group of social entrepreneurs are not yet clearly defined. We investigate the effects that the resulting fuzzy group boundaries have on social identity formation processes.

Completed Doctorates

Social Software in a Cross-Sector Social Partnership – Case Study Regional Refugee-Integration (Andreas Hesse): We analyze how multiple sectors (business organizations, welfare organizations, governance authorities and agencies, private associations etc.) collaborate with each other. In particular, we look at the question how a digital application (social software platform) can support this coordination.

Contemporary mobility (Katrin Merfeld): This research focuses on different fields in the sharing economy as well as autonomous driving technology. With regards to the sharing economy, the focus lies upon the sharing of assets in general as well as peer-to-peer carsharing and carsharing with shared autonomous vehicles in particular. Further, it addresses topics in autonomous driving with regards to its consumer perception and ethical implications.

Entrepreneurial Orientation in the Context of Social Venture Creation (Kathrin Lurtz): This dissertation employs qualitative research methods and focuses on entrepreneurship on the organizational level in nonprofit organizations. It investigates the role of entrepreneurial orientation in the founding process of a social venture.

Legitimation in Cross-Sector Social Partnerships (Dominik Rüede): This qualitative research analyzes the legitimation process of such a cross-sector social partnership (CSSP) under the main research question is: “How do cross-sector social partnerships legitimize themselves over time?”

Concept of Social Enterprise in Germany (Henning Engelke): This thesis examines the development of the concept social enterprise on a policy and on an individual level using the Delphi technique as well as qualitative research methods.

More than ‘Buzz‘? About the Promise and Practice of Social Entrepreneurship (Stefanie Mauksch): The thesis is based on methodologies from the area of organizational ethnography and scrutinizes some of the common, major background assumptions on social entrepreneurship: the myth of a harmonious relationship between the social and the entrepreneurial in social entrepreneurship, an assumed coherency between the concept and its manifestation in reality, or characterizations of social entrepreneurs as highly rational, principled, and considered persons.

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