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20 years of research
at the Hertie School

From governance to grand challenges

The Hertie School’s interdisciplinary research examines real-world public policy issues. The school’s research community works on diverse problems, including tackling corruption, the future of labour, the regulation of hate speech, public sector reform, the dynamics of migration and the future of the European Union. Yet amid that diversity, there are three common threads that shape our research.

The allocation of public resources, implementing measures to address climate change, infrastructure projects, democratic reforms – governance takes on various forms, and drives research at the Hertie School since the university’s inauguration in 2004.

In a world of power diffusion (upwards, downwards and sideways) and ever more complex policy challenges, the state cannot solve problems alone. Governments need to orchestrate policy with other state and societal actors. Societal actors are often the driving forces of change and innovation. The role of governments change, and their ways of doing things need to adapt to the world of governance. Understanding actors and institutions and their interplay is critical for successful governing and a core element of our research.


Mission Statement for the Hertie School

Schuppert, G. F., & Zürn, M. (Eds.). (2009). Governance in einer sich wandelnden Welt. 

Seelos, C., & Mair, J. (2017). Innovation and scaling for impact: How effective social enterprises do it. 

Hallerberg, M., Strauch, R. R., & Von Hagen, J. (2009). Fiscal governance in Europe. 

Hassel, A. (2008). The evolution of a global labor governance regime. Governance, 21(2), 231-251.

Crisis and uncertainty have become the new normal for governing bodies around the world. The series of crises that have emerged in the last 20 years – the financial crisis, the euro crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, and energy crises and erupting wars – have created new challenges for governance, politics and policymaking, confronting the deeply embedded liberal order. 

Time pressure, communication barriers and heightened public attention, as well as the demand for decisive political action are common threads of these very different crises – ones which have also sparked distrust in the problem-solving capacities of politicians and democratic regimes. In this respect, crisis management has become an important mode of political and government action shifting into the focus of research at the Hertie School.


Research Project STARS

Research Project: RefMig: Refugees are Migrants

Research Project: Civica Political Behaviour and Institutions Group 
Research Project: Coordinating for Cohesion in the Public Sector of the Future  
Munzert, S., Selb, P., Gohdes, A., Stoetzer, L. F., & Lowe, W. (2021). Tracking and promoting the usage of a COVID-19 contact tracing app. Nature human behaviour, 5(2), 247-255. 
Stoetzer, L. F., Munzert, S., Lowe, W., Çalı, B., Gohdes, A. R., Helbling, Traunmueller, R. (2023). Affective partisan polarization and moral dilemmas during the COVID-19 pandemic. Political Science Research and Methods, 11(2), 429-436. 

Civica Political Behaviour and Institutions Group

COCOPS: Research project: Coordinating for Cohesion in the Public Sector of the Future (COCOPS) 


Goldstein, J. R., Kreyenfeld, M., Jasilioniene, A., & Örsal, D. K. (2013). Fertility reactions to the “Great Recession” in Europe: Recent evidence from order-specific data. Demographic research, 29, 85-104.

Whether they concern the future of work, the consequences of global climate change, the changes brought by the advancement of digital technologies or the repercussions of global economic interconnection and new threats to international security – grand challenges represent a general, not yet completely defined set of policy areas that require interdisciplinary research and work.

Research at the Hertie School has engaged with a broad range of (grand) policy challenges, for example via the creation of our six centres of competence, delving into what makes and breaks the stability of (democratic) order.

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