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Digital Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship


In the “Digital Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship” research project, we investigate entrepreneurial organisations that primarily focus on society – often called social enterprises. We look at the role of digital technologies in solving social and environmental challenges and in creating societal value. We also examine how organisations with societal aims can succeed in shaping a digital, inclusive and sustainable transformation.

We address these topics within three main research areas:

1) The impact of digital transformation: Digital transformation is often seen as a potential tool for solving societal challenges. However, it can also give rise to unintended consequences and new or changed social problems. For organisations dealing with social and ecological challenges, it is enormously important to understand the transformation process itself. We investigate the role of organisations as key actors in a digital, inclusive and sustainable transformation. For instance, we are engaged in a project to establish a Center for Digital Urban Health & Aging (DUHA). Here, we examine how, in the future, people can remain in their existing social environment while receiving support from technical systems. In particular, we look at the consequences of the transformation process for social value creation, the mobilization of resources, and forms of organising.

2) The role of digital innovation in a social entrepreneurial context: By looking at and analysing innovative social enterprises, we want to find out what characterizes digital social entrepreneurship. With regard to the organisational structure and fields of activity within the social enterprises, we will analyse the role of innovation as well as the potential of sustainable digital social entrepreneurship. In this context we pay special attention to the areas of health, aging and digital cities: We investigate emerging innovative solutions in which digital systems are designed to adapt to the realities of contemporary life.

3) Analysis of digital social innovation entrepreneurship in contexts of crisis: It is evident that, in the course of global or regional crises, we are witnessing the emergence of initiatives and organisations that aim to use digital and innovative solutions to address social challenges. For this purpose, we are looking at existing, established social enterprises and analysing how they are reacting to the crisis and adapting their fields of activity through innovation. Likewise, we are examining new social enterprises that often develop innovative solutions from within civil society.

In addition to developing scientific findings at the interface of social innovation, organisation and digital transformation, our research program aims to generate practically applicable knowledge for organisations with social and environmental goals so that they can actively support sustainable digital transformation and make innovative technologies useful in addressing social challenges.



Ali Aslan Gümüsay, Prof. Dr.

Head of Research Group and Associate Researcher: Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Society

Part of the research group

Former employees

  • Miriam Wolf | HIIG Miriam Wolf, Dr.
    Former Project lead: Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Society
  • Nastasja Krohe | HIIG Nastasja Krohe
    Former Student assistant: Data, Actors, Infrastructures
  • Nicolas Friederici, Dr.
    Former Associated Researcher: Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Society
  • Nicole Siebold | HIIG Nicole Siebold, Dr.
    Former Associated Researcher: Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Society
  • Nina Hrkalovic Nina Hrkalovic
    Former Assistance to the research director | Researcher: Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Society

Journal articles and conference proceedings

Bohn, S., & Gümüşay, A. A. (2023). Growing Institutional Complexity and Field Transition: Towards Constellation Complexity in the German Energy Field. Journal of Management Studies. DOI: Publication details

Scheidgen, K., Gümüşay, A.A., Günzel-Jensen, F., Krlev, G., & Wolf, M. (2021). Crises and entrepreneurial opportunities: digital social innovation in response to physical distancing. Journal of Business Venturing Insights, 15. Publication details

Gümüşay, A.A., & Reinecke, J. (2021). Researching (for) desirable futures: How can we theorize what does not exist? Journal of Management Studies. Publication details

Friederici, N., Meier, P., & Gümüşay, A. A. (2020). An opportunity for inclusion? Digital platform innovation in times of crisis. Pioneers Post. Publication details

Bohn, S., Friederici, N., & Gümüşay, A. A. (2020). Too big to fail us? Platforms as systemically relevant. Internet Policy Review. Publication details

Book contributions and chapters

Gümüşay, A.A., & Smets, M. (2021). New hybrid forms and their liability of novelty. In M. L. Besharov, & B. C. Mitzinneck (Eds.), Organizational Hybridity: Perspectives, Processes, Promises, Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 69 (pp. 167-187). Bingley, United Kingdom: Emerald Publishing Limited. DOI: 10.1108/S0733-558X20200000069008 Publication details

Other publications

Siebold, N., Gümüşay, A., & von Richthofen, G. (2022). Der Einsatz von KI zum Wohl der Gesellschaft: Versprechen & Gefahren für Start-ups. Digital Society Blog. Publication details

Spanuth, A., & Gümüşay, A.A. (2021). Three ways social entrepreneurs work in conflict regions. Pioneers Post. Publication details


Entrepreneurship and faith – a diversity of religious perpectives
L.I.F.E. Research Conference 2021 – 1st Annual Research Conference on Faith and Entrepreneurship. Miami University, L.I.F.E. Research Lab. Online, Miami, USA: 08.04.2021 Further information

Ali Aslan Gümüşay

Organisation of events

Digital Lunch Talk with Johanna Mair, Alberto Bertello, Thomas Gegenhuber & Stephan Bohn
Open Lunch Talk Series. The potential of Open Innovation to cope with Grand Challenges.. 30.11.2021. Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society, Berlin, Germany (International) Further information

Stephan Bohn, Thomas Schildhauer, Hendrik Send

“Commitment versus Compliance: Prioritizing, Compromizing, and the Development of Templates in Situations of Institutional Complexity”
MAN 910 – Area Management Seminar. 17.03.2021. University of Mannheim Business School, Mannheim, Germany (International) Further information

Ali Aslan Gümüsay


IGP Jury des BMWi.

Ali Aslan Gümüsay