Knowledge Initiative on Organisations and Society (KIOS)

Ambition and objective

The Knowledge Initiative on Organisations 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


Amis, J. M., Mair, J., and Munir, K. A. 2020. The Organizational Reproduction of Inequality. Academy of Management Annals, 14(1), 195-230.

Hehenberger, L., Mair, J., and Metz, A. 2019. The Assembly of a Field Ideology: An Idea-Centric Perspective on Systemic Power in Impact Investing. Academy of Management Journal, 62(6), 1672-1704.

Featured in Stanford Social Innovation Review Spring 2020.


Maurer, I., Mair, J. and Oberg, A. 2020. Theorizing the Sharing Economy: Varieties and Trajectories of New Forms of Organizing. Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 66: Emerald Publishing Limited: Bingley, UK.

Seelos, C. and Mair, J. 2017. Innovation and Scaling for Impact – How effective Social Enterprises do it.  Stanford University Press.

Book Chapters

Mair, J. and Rathert, N. 2020. Let’s Talk about Problems: Advancing Research on Hybrid Organizing, Social Enterprises, and Institutional Context. In L. B. Marya, & C. M. Bjoern (Eds.), Organizational Hybridity: Perspectives, Processes, Promises. Research in the Sociology of Organizations Vol. 69. Emerald Publishing Limited: Bingley: 189-208. DOI: 10.1108/S0733-558X20200000069009

Mair, J., & Rathert, N. 2020. Sozialunternehmertum. In B. Blättel-Mink, I. Schulz-Schaeffer, & A. Windeler (Eds.), Handbuch Innovationsforschung: 1-16. Wiesbaden: Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden.


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, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business & Johannes Kepler University Linz

  • Charlotte Traeger, Senior Research Associate to Johanna Mair 

  • Alexandra IoanSEFORÏS project | Partner and Head of the Learning and Action Center, Ashoka

  • Nikolas Rathert, SEFORÏS project | Assistant Professor at Tilburg University

  • Theodore Lechtermann, Visiting Scholar 

  • Linda Jakob-Sadeh, Visiting Scholar | Postdoctoral researcher, Center for the Study of Multiculturalism and Diveristy, Hebrew University of Jerusalemm 

  • Elodie Dessy, Visiting Scholar

  • Nazik Beishenaly, Visiting Scholar

  • Melisa Özcelik