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IRENE I SEE research network

Social enterprises under the microscope

Research focus on social enterprises

IRENE I SEE explores issues around social economic empowerment based on concrete examples in the areas of economics and political science, sociology, and urban studies. Within the network, the research of six doctoral students at different universities is supported and supervised.

A strong focus is given to developing entrepreneurial solutions to social problems. Learn more below about the universities and the research projects of the doctoral students.

Find out more

For years, the state-recognized, private foundation-university in Friedrichshafen has dedicated an area of its research to the future of civil society. The research alliance “Zukunft der Zivilgesellschaft” (Future of Civil Society) combines individual strands of research, including “corporate social responsibility” and “social entrepreneurship.” Another multi-disciplinary institute has also begun work: the Civil Society Center (CiSoC), which focuses on German-language research into socially responsible companies, international country studies on civil society, and economic self-development potential.

Beginning in fall 2013 as part of IRENE I SEE, more than 800 social enterprises and investors from Kenya, Colombia, Mexico, and South Africa will participate in a survey to examine issues such as organizational structure, financing, and management style. Since hardly any research has been conducted on the institutionalization of social enterprises, the survey findings could lead to new knowledge about social enterprises from an integrative perspective.

IRENE I SEE research coordinator: Dr. Lisa Hanley

Dr. Lisa Hanley
Dr. Lisa Hanley

IRENE I SEE is coordinated by Dr. Lisa Hanley at the Civil Society Center at Zeppelin University.

The researcher is particularly interested in how social enterprises can improve basic services in Latin America and Africa and their role in the interplay between the public and private sectors. She focuses on the question of how social enterprises can complement, compete, or cooperate with the public and private sector with their products and services.

Lisa Hanley also researches the social, economic, and democratic development of cities, primarily in Latin America. She is the author and editor of numerous publications on urbanization and globalization. As part of IRENE I SEE, she offers numerous seminars on topics such as the political economy of development administration, managing public service in developing countries, and the dynamics of urbanization.

Dr. Lisa Hanley

Lisa Hanley holds a Ph.D. in city and regional planning from Cornell University, a master’s degree in geography from the University of Texas, and a bachelor’s degree in international affairs from George Washington University. The New York native received fellowships from the Ford Foundation and the Fullbright Commission and worked as an associated researcher at the Center for the Study of the City at FLACSO in Ecuador. As the former project associate of the comparative urban studies project at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. D.C., Hanley worked in the field of international development and urban studies.

Lisa Hanley holds a Ph.D. in city and regional planning from Cornell University, a master’s degree in geography from the University of Texas, and a bachelor’s degree in international affairs from George Washington University. The New York native received fellowships from the Ford Foundation and the Fullbright Commission and worked as an associated researcher at the Center for the Study of the City at FLACSO in Ecuador. As the former project associate of the comparative urban studies project at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. D.C., Hanley worked in the field of international development and urban studies.

Research project “Empowerment through Market-Orientation – The Institutionalization of Social Businesses in Developing Markets”

Aline Wachner and Prof. Dr. Jansen
Aline Wachner and Prof. Dr. Jansen

Aline Wachner investigates market-oriented social enterprises that provide products and services to customers at the bottom of the economic pyramid, seeking to create financial and social value. Her comparative study on the institutionalization of social enterprises in Colombia, Mexico, Kenya, and South Africa focuses on the question of how social enterprises implement the concept of market-orientation in the context of emerging markets.

Which financing structure successfully reconciles social and financial value creation? What are the legitimization strategies that social enterprises apply to meet potentially conflicting demands? Aline Wachner seeks answers to these core questions in neo-institutional organization theory.

Doctoral candidate Aline Wachner

During her international cultural and business studies at the University of Passau, Aline Wachner worked for a corporate responsibility consultancy in Hamburg and Munich. After earning her diploma at the end of 2009, she worked as an associate at the Grameen Creative Lab in Wiesbaden, a think tank for social enterprises. Since May 2011, she has been a research fellow at the Civil Society Center of Zeppelin University.

During her international cultural and business studies at the University of Passau, Aline Wachner worked for a corporate responsibility consultancy in Hamburg and Munich. After earning her diploma at the end of 2009, she worked as an associate at the Grameen Creative Lab in Wiesbaden, a think tank for social enterprises. Since May 2011, she has been a research fellow at the Civil Society Center of Zeppelin University.

Doctoral supervisor Prof. Stephan A. Jansen

Stephan A. Jansen is full professor at the „Chair for Strategic Organization & Financing  | SOFI“ and founding director of the “Civil Society Center | CiSoC” at Zeppelin University, Germany, where he was appointed as founding president and managing director from May 2003 to September 2014. From 2016 he is appointed as Professor for Management, Innovation and Finance and Head of the „Chair for Philanthropy & Civil Society (PhiCS)“ at Karlshochschule, Karlsruhe. He has authored over 200 publications (including 21 books and edited anthologies), especially in the areas of organization, network and management theory, mergers, as well as analyses of educational systems. Jansen was visiting scholar at Stanford University (1999, 2010, 2014/15) and at Harvard Business School (2000/2001).

Stephan A. Jansen is full professor at the „Chair for Strategic Organization & Financing  | SOFI“ and founding director of the “Civil Society Center | CiSoC” at Zeppelin University, Germany, where he was appointed as founding president and managing director from May 2003 to September 2014. From 2016 he is appointed as Professor for Management, Innovation and Finance and Head of the „Chair for Philanthropy & Civil Society (PhiCS)“ at Karlshochschule, Karlsruhe. He has authored over 200 publications (including 21 books and edited anthologies), especially in the areas of organization, network and management theory, mergers, as well as analyses of educational systems. Jansen was visiting scholar at Stanford University (1999, 2010, 2014/15) and at Harvard Business School (2000/2001).

Research project “Cooperation or Distortion? Analyzing impact and traditional investors in Kenya”

Tim Weiss and Prof. Dr. Helmut Willke
Tim Weiss and Prof. Dr. Helmut Willke

Since January 2013, Tim Weiss has been working on his dissertation with the working title “Cooperation or Distortion? Analyzing Impact and traditional Investors in Kenya” at Zeppelin University. His research focuses on the issue of social investment versus traditional investment in East Africa, particularly in Ethiopia and Kenya. Entirely different financing options are possible for social enterprises in both of these countries due to the varying degrees of liberalization in their economies. Tim White is examining the differences at both the corporate and investor levels to come to a deeper understanding of the particularities of the East African market.

Doctoral candidate Tim Weiss

Tim Weiss was intensively involved in international development while studying business administration at the University of Vienna. After earning a BA, he worked two years for several international and bilateral development organizations in project management and as a consultant in Kenya and Ethiopia. During that time, he gained valuable experience in the areas of international emergency aid and rural economic development. For his master studies at Zeppelin University, he applied this experience in his research, concentrating increasingly on social enterprises and investors in Kenya.

Tim Weiss was intensively involved in international development while studying business administration at the University of Vienna. After earning a BA, he worked two years for several international and bilateral development organizations in project management and as a consultant in Kenya and Ethiopia. During that time, he gained valuable experience in the areas of international emergency aid and rural economic development. For his master studies at Zeppelin University, he applied this experience in his research, concentrating increasingly on social enterprises and investors in Kenya.

Doctoral supervisor Prof. Dr. Helmut Willke

Helmut Wilke studied law and sociology in Tübingen and Cologne. From 1983, he taught sociology at the University of Bielefeld where he became a professor for political theory and global governance in 2002. In 1994, he was awarded the German Research Foundation Award. Since 2008, Willke is professor for global governance at Zeppelin University. His research focuses on systems theory, political theory, global governance regimes, and knowledge management. His most important publications include a three-volume introduction to systems theory. His extensive consulting experience in politics, science, and business has extended beyond his diverse books to society.

Helmut Wilke studied law and sociology in Tübingen and Cologne. From 1983, he taught sociology at the University of Bielefeld where he became a professor for political theory and global governance in 2002. In 1994, he was awarded the German Research Foundation Award. Since 2008, Willke is professor for global governance at Zeppelin University. His research focuses on systems theory, political theory, global governance regimes, and knowledge management. His most important publications include a three-volume introduction to systems theory. His extensive consulting experience in politics, science, and business has extended beyond his diverse books to society.