The Rhine-Ruhr Institute was founded by social scientists at the University of Duisburg and representatives of the City of Duisburg on 30 September 1980. It was registered as a public-private non-profit organisation from the start, thus signalling its proximity to practice, enabling new fields of co-operation between the university and the municipality, whilst striving to achieve the utmost in efficiency and flexibility. Without the latter, this would not have been possible against the background of the bureaucratic structures still prevailing in both administrations.
The Ministry in charge of science and research of the federal region/state of North Rhine Westphalia recognised RISP as an official scientific institute affiliated to the University of Duisburg on 15 June 1983 and since 22 April 1987 a formal co-operation contract has tied the Rhine-Ruhr Institute to the University. The Institute’s Executive Director in the period 1980-84 was Prof. Dr. Jens Joachim Hesse, succeeded 1984 –2001 by Prof. Dr. Heribert Schatz and 2001 till beginning 2005 by Dr. Michael Böckler. From 2005 to 2006 Prof. Dr. Heribert Schatz was Executive Director once more, to be followed 2006 to beginning 2012 by Prof. Dr. Dieter Grunow. Prof. Dr. Nicolai Dose is the present Executive Director having taken over on 1 January 2012.
Due to the increase in tasks, the office of Scientific Director was created in February 2003 which was held by Prof. Dr. Dieter Grunow until June 2006 to be succeeded from 30 June 2006 by Prof. Dr. Hans-Jürgen Lange, the current Scientific Director of RISP. Widening again the Institute’s scope Prof. Dr. Dieter Grunow became Director for International Co-operation in January 2012.
Prof. Dr. Heribert Schatz was elected Permanent Honorary Chairman of RISP by the General Assembly on 30 June 2006 recognising Professor Schatz for all his achievements for the Institute ever since launch. In accordance with the RISP statutes the tasks of the Rhine-Ruhr Institute are as follows:
to intensify and conduct applied, region-based social science and socio-economic research
to enhance communication and co-operation between scientific research, public institutions and private business
to contribute to solving societal and political problems in the Rhine-Ruhr region through co-operation projects and active consultancy
to conduct training programmes for business and public administration
In particular, the Rhine-Ruhr Institute offers competence at applied research which in turn forms the focal point of its activities. By critically examining forms of problem-solving through co-operation in practice, research activities strive to devise improved concepts and models for that practice. In so doing, not only methods are applied such as observing and evaluating how models are implemented but also – if required - the broad spectrum of empirical tools available to social and economic research including surveys.
In order to provide a sound base for analysis in some areas of practice, more fundamental research may be required. For this reason, RISP is involved in basic research using its close connections with the University of Duisburg-Essen (formerly Gerhard-Mercator University of Duisburg) and to this end acquires project funding for instance from Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (English: German Research Association), or foundations and government ministries and bodies at national and regional levels. Indeed, an essential feature of the quality RISP has to offer are the ties between concepts and methods resulting from qualified basic research on the one hand and applied research geared to problem-solving in practice, on the other. At the same time, this link generates the base for the professional consultancy of those in politics, public administration and business.
Being neither a purely academic nor a purely commercial research institute is relevant to the variety of tasks conducted by RISP in consultancy and training. In fact, the spectrum of RISP’s contacts and co-operation projects entails partners across the board of practice and applied research.
The fact that numerous consultancy contacts have become permanent, demonstrates how those commissioning RISP find that as the issues to be tackled become ever more complex, continuity in co-operation becomes increasingly necessary. Due to its hitherto successful research and consultancy activities RISP is well placed to meet these conditions.