The Institute and its Tasks

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.

Organisation and Staff Structure

RISP comprises the general assembly, the executive board, the scientific directorate and, finally specialised divisions with their research groups.

Currently the members of the executive board are:


Further members are:

  • Burkhard Beyersdorff (Representative of City of Duisburg)


The institute consists of three divisions, or fields of work, to which research groups are allocated (cf.overview). Research groups feature particular activities or areas of competence.

The activities of RISP are structured as follows:

Division I: Politics, Citizens and Administration

This field dealswith both fundamental and current problems facing the political and administrative system. The major focus is on local authority modernisation, proximity to citizens, and legitimacy in the multi-tier European system.

  • Research Group “System Analysis Administration and Politics”
    Head: Prof. Dr. Dieter Grunow

  • Research Group “Migration and Inter-cultural Communication”
    Head: Peter Krumpholz

  • Research Group “Impact Assessment“
    Head: Prof. Dr. Nicolai Dose


Division II: Work , Economy and Business

This division concentrates on social processes of modernisation at work and the policy fields involved i.e. labour market, education and structural policy.

  • Research Group “Social Change and Innovation”
    Head: Joachim Liesenfeld

  • Research Group “Employment and Equality“
    Head: Dr. Ute Pascher

  • Research Group “Prolog“
    Head: Dr. Hans Uske


Division III: Safety/Security, Crime and Police

In this field of work RISP focuses on the transformation of the state and democracy in a society increasingly facing safety and security issues. Topics include the shaping of new forms of a safety and security “architecture“, behavioural reforms for the police, prospects for local safety, crime prevention, analysis of government domestic policy, organised crime and terrorism.

  • Research Group “Political Control and Conflict Management“
    Head: Prof. Dr. Hans-Jürgen Lange

  • Research Group “Deviant Behaviour and Social Control”
    Head: Dr. Thomas Schweer

Organigramme as pdf


The Rhine Ruhr Institute for Social Research and Policy Consulting has always relied on funding from third-parties in the frame of projects and has succeeded without mandatory public funding from the very beginning. Whilst, on the one hand, these circumstances are not ideal they do, on the other, ensure the independence of the institute towards the political domain. Furthermore, in this way the frequent problem faced by non-university research institutes of aging human resources due to lack of staff fluctuation is avoided. Against this background, public funds for projects in research and consultancy are only forthcoming in the form of third-party contributions when procured in active competition with others. Funds are primarily awarded by organisations promoting scientific research, for instance, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) (English: German Research Association) , Volkswagen-Stiftung (English: Volkswagen Foundation), Hans Böckler Stiftung (HBS) (English: Hans Böckler Foundation) or public bodies such as radio and television corporations, regional media authorities, political parties’ foundations, specific research promotion programmes or individual contracts from national, regional and local government and, increasingly of late, the European Commission. Also, public funding is being increasingly supplemented by research contracts from a variety of business sectors, trades unions, business associations, welfare agencies and commercial research and consultancy agencies.

As a result of relying entirely on third-party funding, the scientific staff, students and non-scientific staff of RISP are employed as a rule on a temporary base. Therefore, the number of permanent/temporary staff fluctuates depending on the amount and size of commissioned projects. RISP currently employs 19 scientific and non-scientific members of staff.

Further details can be found in the descriptions of the respective research groups.

English text by Robert Tonks, Deutsch-Britische Gesellschaft Duisburg e. V. /German British Society Duisburg: