heiGOS – Heidelberg Research Group for Organization Studies

Organizational sociology is a subfield of sociology characterized by its theoretical and empirical focus on the forms, structures and internal processes of organizations as well as their interactions with society.

The heiGOS team conducts international research in economic, organizational and industrial sociology, making use of quantitative, qualitative and mixed methodological designs. The group's research approach is marked by both Structure and Action Theory and strongly influenced by Institutional Analysis.

Current research projects

Misconduct in organizations: How to improve speak-up cultures? (since 2022)
Whistleblowing systems regularly do not deliver on what they promise. We aim to obtain evidence-based knowledge on compliance measures, which aim to increase willingness to report.

Corporate Misconduct – How to Increase the Likelihood to Report? (since 2022)
What are the factors that increase or decrease the likelihood of employees to report wrongdoing within their organization? We are conducting this research project in close cooperation with a major company in Romania and by utilizing factorial surveys and experiments.

Evaluation of the Implementation Law for the Prostitutes Security Law  (Ausführungsgesetz zum Prostituiertenschutzgesetz, AGProstSchG) in 2018–2022 (since 2021)
In this project, qualitative and quantitative surveys targeting representatives of relevant public agencies will be conducted and analysed in order to prepare a basis for a fact-based evaluation for the pending update of the law, and to help understand the causal network of formal rules and informal norms that are at play in this institutional setting.

Evidence-based corporate compliance (since 2021)
Making use of a mixed-methods-design including expert-surveys, interview analysis and a control-group based interventional study, we intend to determine, which of the various corporate compliance measures take the desired effects, and which do not. The project is based on the cooperation with project partners in the corporate field and will offer strong opportunities for knowledge transfer to companies as well as other types of organizations.

Organizational Crime and Systemic Corruption in Brazil (since 2019)
The international project team analyses recent cases of corruption in order to explain how the system of economic and political corruption functions, to determine the effects of institutional and organizational changes and to understand the role of law enforcement and of the anti-corruption regime.

❯ all research projects

Markus Pohlmann © Photo Christian Jaeggi
Prof. Dr. Markus Pohlmann

Research staff
Monika Bancsina, M.A.
PD Dr. Stefan Bär
Laura Beuter, M.A.
Dr. Friederike Elias
Alexander Fürstenberg, M.A.
Dr. Kristina Höly
Nicolás Jaramillo, M.A.
Kim Kettner, B.Sc.
Leoni Kotwan, B.A.
Dipl.-Soz. Yuanyuan Liu
Maria Eugenia Trombini, M.A.
Jakob Zürn, B.A.

Social Media

Corporate Crime Stories

Recent publications

Bär, Stefan, Sebastian Starystach & Heike Hess (2022): Staff councils in hospitals as co-managers? A blind spot in codetermination research. In: Industrielle Beziehungen. Zeitschrift für Arbeit, Organisation und Management (4-2021), p 407-430. doi.org/10.3224/indbez.v28i4.04

✎ Trombini, Maria Eugenia, Mario H. Jorge Jr., Elizangela Valarini & Markus Pohlmann (2022): A case study of systemic corruption in the state health bureaucracy, in: Sebastian Wolf &
Peter Graeff, Corona und Korruption, Wiesbaden: Springer VS. doi.org/10.1007/978-3-658-35664-4_6

Buch Umschlagbild✎ Elizangela Valarini, Markus Pohlmann & Subrata Mitra (Hrsg., 2021): Political Corruption and Organizational Crime. The Grey Fringes of Democracy and the Private Economy
E-Book: doi.org/10.1007/978-3-658-34374-3
Softcover ISBN: 978-3-658-34373-6

✎ Sebastian Starystach & Kristina Höly (Hrsg., 2021): The Silence of Organizations: How Organizations Cover up Wrongdoings
E-Book: doi.org/10.11588/heibooks.592
Softcover ISBN: 978-3-948083-10-6

✎ Valarini, Elizangela & Maria Eugenia Trombini (2021): Populist grammar, politicians and judges: a case study of political corruption in Brazil, in: Mendilow, Jonathan & Eric Phelippeau (Hrsg.), Populism and Corruption – The other side of the coin, Cheltenham: Edgar Elgar Publishing. (link)

✎ Pohlmann, Markus, Kristina Höly & Maria Eugenia Trombini (2021): The German Organ Transplant Scandal - The unwritten rules of organizational wrongdoings, in: Social Science and Medicine (292). doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2021.114577

Blog „Organizational Crime Stories“

❯ all blog posts


Thomas Schröder & Gerhard Dannecker: How to Deal with Corporate Crime

Peter Graeff & Julia Kleinewiese: Esprit De Corps as a Mechanism of Social Integration

Markus Pohlmann: Corporate Crime and Organizational Deviance

Research programs

Organizational Crime Studies

Interdisciplinary cooperation of sociologists, criminologists, law scholars, political scientists and economists, as well as medical scientists and sinologists is at the heart of the research program “Organizational Crime Studies”. It utilizes a cross-sectoral and cross-cultural comparative approach in order to explore why and how organizations “stray off legal paths” and how they can get back on track. In addition to analyzing societal and institutional factors to explain organizational wrongdoing, we also examine its legal implications, in order to offer insights from an organizational sociology perspective that are useful for criminology, criminal law and international corruption studies. Specifically, the rather new concept of “organizational deviance” can serve as a starting point to explain a certain under-researched form of crime which is determined by the aims of the organization, while personal gain plays a minor role.

Management Organization Careers

This research program focuses on the impact of globalization on corporations, and especially on industrial companies. According to a common thread in mainstream globalization literature, the number of transnational corporations is increasing, which in trun drives the emergence of a managerial “world class” or “global elites”. Allegedly, these elites push forward the neoliberal transformation of the world economy. This hypothesis culminates in the idea of a “new spirit of capitalism”. The Management Organization Careers research program puts the thesis of a global economic elite to the test, by examining the empirical career patterns and action orientations of top managers, who lead the big industrial corporations of the world’s largest economies today.

Medical Organizations Studies

Research within this program analyzes the field of medical organizations, such as hospitals, which has been undergoing substantial changes in recent decades. In addition to a focus on Germany, the research projects inlcude an international comparative perspective. How do these processes of organizational change affect the organizations, the medical profession, the medical staff including their working conditions and career paths, and the provision of care to patients? The research program, which builds upon the insights of heiGOS' organizational and management studies, has evolved from its precursor “Hospital Management Studies”, which concucted comparative research covering Europe (Germany, Austria, Switzerland), Asia (Japan, South Korea) and South America (Brazil).

heiGOS Team 2021
heiGOS Team 2021

heiGOS - Heidelberg Research Group for Organization Studies
Max-Weber-Institut für Soziologie
Universität Heidelberg
Bergheimer Str. 58
69115 Heidelberg
📞 +49 (0) 6221 542971

Photo credits:
photo by César Viteri on Unsplash