Research: Focus on sociology

Developing theories and concepts in the sociology of science and organizations

Progress of cumulative knowledge in empirical sociological research requires middle-range theories (as defined by Robert K. Merton). Such middle-range theories are also important in the areas of sociology of science and in the sociology of organizations. More generally, the application of social scientific concepts to new empirical phenomena, and thus their generalization, requires clarification, examination and development of existing ideas. It is this type of theoretical research that is undertaken in the team of Prof. Thomas Heinze. Theoretical research is topic- or project-related and therefore tied to particular sociological research objects and questions. Developing theories is a long-term project as it covers a considerable variety of topics. You can find selected contributions of Prof. Heinze’s team below:

Top-level research and scientific innovation in a comparative perspective

Creative research contributions are not only relatively seldom but also unequally distributed across research organizations and countries. It was Joseph Ben-David who highlighted the unequal distribution of breakthroughs in medical research in the 19th century, pointing at peaks of such breakthroughs at specific times and in certain countries. He also showed that the global center of medicine and other disciplines moved from Germany to the United States at the end of the 19th century, a finding corroborated by Rogers Hollingsworth analysis for the biomedical sciences in the 20th century. Ben-David identified two reasons for this shift of the global center of research: On the one hand, universities in the United States, compared to universities in Germany, provide an organizational context that is more open to scientific innovation, and on the other hand, the American university system is characterized by more decentralized competition. In contrast, Hollingsworth provided evidence for the particularly high scientific performance of small non-university, typically private research facilities. Both Ben-David and Hollingsworth agree that the United States provide an institutional context for research and development that is particularly conducive to creative research.

Institutional change of research organizations

Institutional change of national research systems

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