Knowledge initiative

Knowledge Initiative on Organisations and Society (KIOS)

Ambition and Objective

The Knowledge Initiative on Organizations and Society (KIOS) strives to become a leading European hub for research on how different types of organisations tackle societal challenges.

Our objective is to document and analyse organisational strategies and the role of innovation in pursuing societal progress and institutional change by developing European-based and globally-relevant research anchored in the social sciences. We facilitate research-based interactions with stakeholders across sectors to improve the practice of social innovation, inform policymaking, and inspire a next generation of decision makers.

Path to impact

The ambition of the initiative is to develop knowledge on social innovation and organisational strategies that is portable across geographies, sectors and issue domains.

  • We develop knowledge that is relevant and at the same time has the potential to advance or recast existing theory and practice.
  • We convene scholarly events and exchanges between research and practice to seed and disseminate knowledge.
  • We interact with strategic partners to define and refine relevant areas for research.
  • We include, support and empower the next generation of scholars and educators to carry the torch further (master’s students, PhD students and postdocs).
  • We leverage institutional ties to the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, the Global Innovation for Impact Lab and the Social Innovation and Change Initiative at the Harvard Kennedy School and various institutions in Europe to conduct research in a collaborative spirit.

We are impactful when the knowledge we develop enables more robust and integrated approaches to tackle societal challenges.

Articulating the problem

Despite increasing attention to social innovation in Europe by organisations within the public, social and business sector we lack a solid basis of evidence and knowledge that allows us to probe well-intended solutions and adapt approaches to local institutional contexts.

Latest insights

Capturing the dynamics of the sharing economy: Institutional research on the plural forms and practices of sharing economy organizations | Article by Johanna Mair and Georg Reischauer in Technological Forecast and Social Change

Innovation and Scaling for Social Impact: How effective Social Enterprises do it | Book by Christian Seelos and Johanna Mair published by Stanford University Press. Winner of the Terry Mc Adam Book Award 2017 for most inspirational and useful new book contributing to nonprofit management.

Scaffolding: How to tackle deeply entrenched patterns of Inequality | Article by Johanna Mair, Miriam Wolf and Christian Seelos in the Academy of Management Journal. Nominated for Best AMJ Paper Award 2016.

When innovation goes wrong | Article by Christian Seelos and Johanna Mair in Stanford Social Innovation Review

Johanna Mair and Stanford Social Innovation Review: Chronicling social entrepreneurship's evolution | innovate podcast

Social enterprises, a manifestation of ethical capitalism? | An interview with Alexandra Ioan

Initiative director

  • Johanna Mair, Professor for Organization, Strategy and Leadership

Faculty and researchers

  • Christian Seelos, Visiting Scholar at the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (PACS) at Stanford University and the Leo Tindemans Chair of Business Model Innovation at KU Leuven

  • Georg Reischauer, Local Project Manager and Research Associate for i-share

  • Alexandra Ioan, Doctoral Programme in Governance | Research Associate for Johanna Mair

  • Sebastian Seidel, Doctoral Programme in Governance

  • Ashley Metz, Doctoral Programme in Governance | Research Associate to Johanna Mair

  • Nikolas Rathert, Postdoctoral Researcher for Organizational Capacity for Continuous Innovation (OCCI) 3.0