Research CSI

The CSI's main research topics are:

  • Social investment and measuring the social impact of investments on welfare
  • Foundation system, foundation strategies, strategies with a great leverage effect
  • Civil society and social economy
  • Nonprofit leadership and social entrepreneurship
  • Governance in the Third Sector

We conduct national, international and comparative research projects with special emphasis on the European level.

With its research program the CSI contributes to:

  • the basic theoretical understanding
  • practice-oriented knowledge in the welfare-oriented sector
  • political and strategic debates

In this way, we seek to bring the issue of social investments into scientific debates and disciplines from an interdisciplinary perspective. The main disciplines - we focus on - are social and educational science, economy, law as well as ethics and theology.

Further information
Research Agenda CSI (2017-2026)
Outreach Strategy CSI


Interdisciplinary, international approach
At the present time, the solution of complex tasks of foundations, social enterprises or nonprofit organizations can only be achieved through a consistent cooperation of social sciences (civil society, policy analysis), law (charitable law, foundation law), economics (management), and theology and ethics (normative foundations ). The CSI therefore implements a cooperation of the socio-economic, economic, legal and theological faculties of the University of Heidelberg. In addition to this interdisciplinary approach, the CSI's work emphasizes an international approach and works with centres in Europe, the US and other regions.

Transdisciplinary cooperation with the practice
In communicating its research results, the CSI and its team members not only follow the path of the usual formats of communication and transfer. The Centre also collaborates in innovation formats with other actors in science, policy and practice from the very beginning, linking social research with social innovation impulses for practice. Such formats of cooperation are e.g. Real-World Laboratories, System Innovation Labs, or Intralabs for the entrepreneurial, strategic development of individual organizations.

Partnerships and cooperations
As part of the Max-Weber-Institute for Sociology, the CSI is part of the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences. In addition, there are cooperative relationships with the Faculty of Law and the The Institute for the Study of Christian Social Service of the University of Heidelberg as well as other individual institutes and professors.

Since 2016, the Max-Weber-Institute has received basic funding from the university for the CSI. The core funding of the CSI in its development phase as a Central Research Institution at the University (until 2015) was based on funds of the Manfred Lautenschläger Foundation, the Robert Bosch Foundation, the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, the Deutsche Bank Foundation, the Gemeinnützige Hertie Stiftung, the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft and only to a small extent from the University of Heidelberg. In addition, a number of other foundations and partners sponsored individual research and application projects, including but not limited to: the Generali Future Fund, the Mercator Foundation, the Bertelsmann Foundation, the Gulbenkian Foundation, the Compagnia di San Paolo, the Fondazione Cariplo, and the Rijksbanken Jubileumsfonds.

The CSI research projects are mostly third-party funded; the sponsors include the European Union, federal and state ministries, foundations, business enterprises, charities, civil society organizations and the DFG.