The Institute of Economic and Social Research (WSI)

The Institute of Economic and Social Research (WSI) is an independent academic institute within the Hans-Böckler-Foundation, a non-profit organisation fostering co-determination and promoting research and academic study on behalf of the German Confederation of Trade Unions (DGB).

Since it was founded in 1946, the institute's focus has always been on the improvement of life chances, on social justice and fair working and living conditions. Economists, sociologists, political scientists and law scholars work on social, economic and labour market policy issues. On the basis of their analyses, researchers elaborate policy proposals aimed at overcoming labour market restrictions and social problems to the benefit of employees.


Minimum Wage Regimes in Europe

In a study for the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Thorsten Schulten (WSI) gives an overview on the various minimum wage regimes in Europe and discusses the question what Germany might learn from European experiences.

full text (pdf)

Cambridge Journal of Economics

Is flexible labour good for innovation? Evidence from firm-level data

Whether the use of flexible workers is damaging to innovation or not depends on the dominant innovation regime in a sector. Alfred Kleinknecht (WSI), Flore N. van Schaik and Haibo Zhou show that in sectors with a ‘routinised’ innovation regime, high shares of low-paid temporary workers have a negative impact on the probability that firms invest in R&D. In sectors that tend towards a ‘garage business’ regime, however, flexibility has no impact. more...


Springer 2014 - ISBN: 978-3-642-38723-4

Mathematical Theory of Democracy

The mathematical theory of democracy deals with the selection of representatives who make decisions on behalf of the whole society. To bridge representative and direct democracy, Andranik Tangian (WSI) proposes an election method that is based not on voting but on indexing candidates with respect to the electorate’s political profile.


International research project "ProWelfare"

Providing welfare through Social Dialogue: A renewed role for Social Partners?

Academic partners in 8 European countries (including Dr. Florian Blank, WSI) investigated “voluntary occupational welfare” (VOW) or “contract welfare”, i.e. the provision of supplementary welfare benefits through collective bargaining and (or) unilateral bargaining by employers. The outcomes of the EU-financed project coordinated by ETUC and OSE were presented during the Final Conference held on 05.12.2013 in Brussels.

conference video report (youtube)
project homepage

European Journal of Industrial Relations

Wage and workforce adjustments in the economic crisis in Germany and the Netherlands

Kea Tijdens, Maarten van Klaveren (University of Amsterdam), Reinhard Bispinck, Heiner Dribbusch (WSI) and Fikret Öz (IAT) investigated the trade-off between wage and workforce adjustments and the role of industrial relations in firm-level responses to the economic crisis in Germany and the Netherlands. The authors found no large-scale evidence of wage concessions being traded-off for job protection in the two countries. Collective bargaining ensured that wage-setting was more robust than employment protection.

full text (pdf)


Roadmap to a Social Europe

The e-book (co-edited by Brigitte Unger, WSI) seeks to set the revived discussion about a ‘Social Europe’ in relation to the general European crisis, present trade unions views on the subject and analyse specific policy and action issues important for the development of a real social dimension of European integration. The book contains articles by Jürgen Habermas, Zygmunt Bauman and European and national trade union leaders amongst many others.

full text (pdf)

Journal of European Public Policy

How the European Commission deepened financial market integration

Daniel Seikel (WSI) argues that the European financial market integration cannot be understood without the European Commission's gradual enforcement of supranational competition law for financial services and shows that the regulatory integration of financial services in the EU is much more driven by supranational institutions than assumed by the bulk of the literature. more...

Key research topics

WSI research covers issues of employment and institutional change in a globalising world, the quality of work as well as questions of redistribution and social security, industrial relations and collective bargaining policy. The work of the WSI is organised in five research areas:

Labour market and working conditions
Wage policy, collective bargaining and industrial relations
Social policy and redistribution
Gender research
Europe and European policies

Surveys and data collections

WSI studies empirically draw on a number of unique surveys, data collections and documentations. Tables, analyses and graphs in professional quality layout are available for free download via online web portals. more...

Research expertise

Information on WSI members of staff and WSI guests and their fields of expertise

WSI Academic Staff
WSI Guest Researchers



"WSI-Mitteilungen" is a scientific journal providing up-to-date information on the results of research on current issues of relevance to trade unions.

more information

Networks, cooperations, fellowships

WSI actively participates in national and international research networks. Next to temporary projects, the institute maintains well-established long-term research relations with academic partners and trade-union organizations. more...