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Problem-oriented research on Internet & Society

The Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG) aims to broaden the theoretical and empirical foundation of internet and society research in order to contribute to a better understanding of digital society.

Throughout the process of digitalisation, societies are undergoing changes. Our conceptual frame of reference for identifying and assessing these societal changes is the relationship between innovation and governance. Tensions and synergies emerging from this relationship can be found across all societal fields and organisations including the state, corporations and markets, from the local to the global level.  

Recent Publications

EdTech: The secret to its implementation

Falllösung zum NetzDG

Research Structure

To analyse the relationship between innovation and governance, HIIG has developed three long-term research programmes. They form the framework for the research agenda at HIIG. Further research groups, laboratories and projects strengthen this programme-oriented research. Individual research projects are usually part of a programme, group or laboratory. Different research results are presented and discussed as part of science communication projects.

Organigramm Research HIIG EN

Research programmes

Analysing the relationship between innovation and governance, HIIG has developed three long-term research programmes. They are driven by broad research questions reflecting the institute’s disciplines and provide the framework for the research activities at HIIG:

Research Groups

Larger research groups develop their own thematic focus to strengthen disciplinary competences in individual areas. Our inter- and transdisciplinary research laboratories work at the intersection of academia, industry and civil society. With their research, they contribute to the agenda of the three research programmes:

Current research projects

Individual research projects complement and strengthen our research. They also serve to conduct short-term studies and provide reliable results on current topics.

  • All
  • AI
  • Entrepreneurship & innovation
  • Media & data
  • Politics & law
  • Science & education
  • Science engagement
  • Society & culture
AI · Society & culture

A media theory of the humanoid robot – Artificial intelligence in Japanese and European interpretations

In this project, the humanoid robots in Japan in particular will be examined with the aim of working out the realities of AI.

AI · Science engagement

Artificial intelligence, explained in human terms

This project uses an interdisciplinary approach to explain models for artificial intelligence (AI) to a broad civil society, to make it explainable, interpretable and comprehensible for all.

Man sieht mehrer Spiegel, die in unterschiedlichen Formen angeordnet sind und verschiedene Oberflächen, wie den Himmel, eine Hauswand und so weiter widerspiegeln. Das Bild steht sinnbildlich für die vielen verschiedenen Bedeutungen von autonomen Waffensystemen in unserer Gesellschaft. You see several mirrors arranged in different shapes reflecting different surfaces, such as the sky, a house wall and so on. The image is emblematic of the many different meanings of autonomous weapon systemsin our society.
AI · Society & culture

Autonomous Weapon Systems

The project investigates how autonomous weapon systems (AWS) are discussed in different concepts of human-machine interaction.

Entrepreneurship & innovation · Media & data

Between Autonomy and Surveillance – Employee-oriented use of people analytics in onsite and remote work

In the research project, we are researching how people and organisations use so-called people analytics applications.

Du siehst eine große Welle in blauer Farbe und weißer Schaumkrone. Es steht sinnbildlich für die Welle an Wissenschaftsfeindlichkeit (hostility towards science), der manche Wissenschaftler*innen gegenüberstehen.
Science & education · Science engagement

Capacities and competences in dealing with hate speech and hostility towards science (CAPAZ)

This project develops strategies to make the science system more resilient to high publicity negative statements.

Politics & law · Society & culture


The project explores the important, both mutually beneficial and conflict-prone relationship between cybersecurity and privacy. It also aims to find common ground for regulating cybersecurity issues.

Media & data

Data & Smart City Governance on the example of air quality management

This project aims to develop a data governance concept that can enable data-driven innovations addressing urban problems.

Media & data · Society & culture

Data & Society Interface

How can we make data from private and public organisations usable for scientific purposes and for the general good of the society, and still take legal, ethical, economic or organisational challenges into account?

Media & data

Data Governance 2: Reconciling conflicting interests in data – a research framework

The project aims to develop an analytical research framework that can be used to describe data governance structures in a uniform manner and compare their success factors.

Data protection as a service | HIIG
Politics & law · Science & education

Data Protection as a Service

In this research project we are developing, together with several research partners, solutions that help website owners to overcome their knowledge uncertainties.

Konzepte der digitalen Gesellschaft
Science & education · Society & culture

Defining concepts of the digital society

This project seeks to substantiate the conceptual ambition of the research programme The Evolving Digital Society by curating a set of reference articles on key notions and concepts.

Politics & law · Science engagement

Digital Platforms: Alternative Models and Designs

HIIG organises a five-part impulse series on the topic of digital platforms together with the Bertelsmann Stiftung’s Upgrade Democracy Team.

Entrepreneurship & innovation

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.

Auf dem Titelbild des Projekts Digitalisierung und Klima (digitalisation and climate) sieht man ein die r
Entrepreneurship & innovation · Science engagement

Digitalisation and Climate

The project Digitalisation and Climate examines the economic, ecological & social dimensions of a sustainable digital economy.

Das Titelbild des Projekts Digitalsierung und Unternehmertum (Digitalisation and Entrepreneurship)zeigt aneinander liegende Dreicke aus dünnen Holzbalken.
Entrepreneurship & innovation · Science engagement

Digitalisation and Sustainable Entrepreneurship

The Digitalisation and Entrepreneurship project explores sustainable digital entrepreneurship, the gig economy and the future of work.

Media & data


The Digital Urban Center for Aging and Health (DUCAH) is an initiative of the Internet and Society Foundation and the Einstein Center for Digital Future.

Media & data · Politics & law

Global Privacy Governance

This project aims to better understand processes of global negotiations, problem framing, regulation and enforcement in this field, both empirically and conceptually.

You see a platform in the ocean made out of wood. Below you can see three yellow stars. It symbolises the INCA project and the european approach on platform models.
Entrepreneurship & innovation · Politics & law

INCA – INcrease Corporate political responsibility and Accountability of digital platforms

This project examines the growing corporate power of platform capitalism and its hegemony on several spheres of European society.

Media & data

Making Repositories and AI Systems Usable in Everyday Nursing Care

HIIG is involved in two of the projects as part of the BMBF funding programme “Making Repositories and AI Systems Usable in Everyday Nursing Care”.

Science & education

Organizational Adaptivity in the German Higher Education Context (OrA)

In this project, we investigate the digitalisation of higher education, with a focus placed on exploring the implementation of teaching and learning innovations.

English: You see lots of different coloured dots on a picture flying through a closed circle of golden colour. It is emblematic of the creativity and resilience of universities in relation to the future of educational technology. Deutsch: Man sieht viele verschieden Farbpunkte auf einem Bild, die durch einen geschlossenen Kreis aus goldener Farbe fliegen. Es steht sinnbildich für die Kreativität und Resilienz von Hochschulen in Zusammenhang mit der Zukunft der Bildungstechnologie.
Science & education

Organizational Resilience and Creativity: Exploring the Future of Educational Technology

How can educational technology be creatively contribute to building resilient universities and equip them to cope with future change?

Plattform Governance
Politics & law · Society & culture

Platform governance

Platforms have installed themselves as key intermediaries in contemporary societies. They re-organise communication and politics, mobility and travel, work and everyday life. Yet, with this change controversies arise.

Society & culture · Media & data · Politics & law · Science engagement · Society & culture


The project “Platform://Democracy” examines how the rules of discourse on platforms can be aligned with public values.

AI · Society & culture

Public Interest AI

The “Public Interest AI” research group is developing an operationalisable analysis procedure that will allow Public Interest to be defined in an AI-specific way and tested in technical prototypes.

Internet Policy Review IPR Logo
Politics & law · Science & education

Publication: Internet Policy Review

The Internet Policy Review is an open access, fast track and peer­-reviewed journal on Internet regulation. It tracks public regulatory changes, as well as private policy developments which are likely to have an impact on European societies.

Politics & law · Science & education · Science engagement

Repository for scientific policy and society advice (REPOD)

Political decisions are increasingly based on empirical research results. The project makes advisory documents specifically searchable and develops quality standards.

Science & education · Society & culture

Scholar-led Plus: Tailored support for scholar-led publishing

This research project aims to improve the publication situation of scholar-led, non-APC open access gold journals through a consortial support structure.

Society & culture

Shaping 21st Century AI – Controversies and Closure in Media, Policy, and Research

The project investigates the discourse and developments around AI’s “deep learning revolution” over the ten formative years.

Entrepreneurship & innovation

Task Force: Digital Organizing

The task force Digital Organizing is a group of researchers who study the implications of digital practices for the processes of organizing.

Task Force Plattformökonomie
Entrepreneurship & innovation

Task Force: European Platform Economy

The “Task Force European Platform Economy” is a group of HIIG researchers who study the implications of global platformisation for European actors and institutions.

Politics & law

The Public International Law of the Internet

The research project “The Public International Law of the Internet” at HIIG aims at redefining the relationship between human rights law and the internet.

Science & education · Society & culture


ar Digital technologies have revolutionised our lives over the past two decades. How will they continue to…

Women in Tech profile pic
Science engagement · Society & culture

Women* in Tech

Das Transferprojekt Frauen* im Tech-Sektor erarbeitet intersektionale Fragestellungen zur Gleichberechtigung in der Technologiebranche.

Completed research groups and projects

  • All
  • AI
  • Entrepreneurship & innovation
  • Media & data
  • Politics & law
  • Science & education
  • Science engagement
  • Society & culture
Entrepreneurship & innovation · Media & data


In March 2014, a three-year research project on new technologies for digital moving images will start in Babelsberg: the »dwerft«.

ACTiSS, a MOOC for learning computational science
Science & education · Science engagement

ACTiSS: Action for computational social science

This educational project aims at fostering the development of computational thinking among social science students and young professionals. All digital training and teaching materials will be freely available to learners and teachers.

Wissensarbeit | HIIG
AI · Entrepreneurship & innovation · Society & culture

Artificial Intelligence & Knowledge Work – Implications, Opportunities and Risks

The research project focuses on the use of AI applications in the intraorganizational workplace of knowledge workers.

Media & data · Society & culture

Big Data & Nudging – Regulation by Big Data and Behavioural Sciences

The research project aims at bringing together the fragmented discussions on big data-driven behavioural regulation, relating the results of these debates to each other and thus identifying both new research questions and needs for political action. To this end, a conceptual framework is developed first which is used to classify and characterise the instruments, both in existence and under discussion, of big data-driven behavioural regulation.

Entrepreneurship & innovation

Case Study: Innovation and Imitation in the Games Sector

The Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society is currently launching an 18-month study into the tension between innovation and imitation in the Digital Games Industry.

Competing and complementing – The relation of Co-determination and new participatory platforms within companies

In our project we do research on workers participation on digital platforms by examining new forms and processes of employee participation online.

Media & data · Politics & law

Creative uses and cross – border copyright regulation

The Internet and digitisation simplify access to copyright protected works, and facilitate their distribution and use. However, these developments also pose fundamental questions of how to reconcile the often-opposing interests and ideas for regulation in this domain.

Entrepreneurship & innovation

Data Cooperation Platforms for SMEs

The project Data Cooperation Platforms for SMEs (DaPla Mittelstand) is exploring how small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) operating in data-rich markets can better participate in the increasing platformization of value chains.

Data Governance 1: Finding common ground for interdisciplinary research

The sharing and re-use of digital data can foster innovation and increase economic and social welfare. However, economic and legal obstacles as well as strategic uncertainties often seem to prevent organizations from sharing the data they control. The “Data Governance” project therefore aimed at elaborating on data governance models that help actors to share and re-use their data

Digital Citizenship

DECiDe – Digital Identity, European Citizenship and the Future of Democracy

We developed a prototype for e-voting and e-polling based upon digital identity and Random-Sample Voting. The project was one of the winning projects by the Mercator Foundation’s Advocate Europe ideas competition 2018.

Dewmystifying AI
AI · Entrepreneurship & innovation

Demystifying AI in entrepreneurship

The AI production process is not a magic blackbox, but rather an entrepreneurial process designed and carried out by actors, such as entrepreneurs, with a certain motivation. In this context, HIIG researchers are examining the entrepreneurial process of AI production in Germany as part of the pilot project “Demystifying AI in entrepreneurship – What’s behind German AI production?”.

Politics & law · Society & culture

Digital Civil Disobedience

The political phenomenon of civil disobedience has undergone a remarkable change in recent times, with the expression electronic civil disobedience coming into being in the mid­-1990s.

Politics & law · Society & culture

Digital Electoral Compass 2021

The Digital Electoral Compass is intended to create transparency, show the parties’ positions on digital policy issues and provide an overview of their individual plans. The election programmes are divided into six thematic categories: Work & Economy, Infrastructure, Social Affairs & Health, Media & Internet, Education & Research, Administration & Openness and Security.

Digitale Innovation im Mittelstand

Digital Innovation in German mid-sized businesses

The respective projects do not only take place in different functional areas of the companies, but are also related to trending topics like Smart City, New Work, or Augmented Reality. Frequently, these projects are implemented in close collaboration with startups. The goal of the study is to present several examples and success stories from different companies and regions of Germany and to derive recommendations for action.

Science & education · Society & culture

DREAM (Digital Research Mining)

As part of the DREAM project, a mobile application is being developed that simplifies the search for scientific open access publications and suggests suitable new content.

Empirical Copyright Research
Media & data

Empirical Copyright Research

The research project Empirical Copyright Research contributes to the nascent field of empirical copyright research with innovative theoretical perspectives and empirically grounded case studies.

Innovation Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship & innovation

Entrepreneurship Research Lab

Our Innovation and Entrepreneurship team is a transdisciplinary group of researchers at the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet & Society (HIIG).

Meinungsfreiheit im quasi-öffentlichen Raum
Media & data · Society & culture

Freedom of Expression in the Quasi-Public Sphere

The emerging publics on the Internet heavily rely on the infrastructure and platforms provided by private entities such as Facebook, Twitter, the Apple App Store, or Google. Previous research, predominantly in the form of case studies, has revealed that online platforms not only facilitate but also limit private speech in certain contexts.

Gemeinsam digital
Entrepreneurship & innovation · Society & culture

Gemeinsam Digital

_Gemeinsam digital, the Mittelstand 4.0-Kompetenzzentrum Berlin, is a central contact point for all companies in Berlin and nationwide that have questions about digitization. Our work is practical, user-oriented and cross-industry. The HIIG is in charge of the topics AI, digital business models, digital further education, and collaboration and offers competent consulting and scientific expertise in various areas.

Society & culture

Goodcoin – Robust Privacy for Loyalty Programmes and Payment Systems

The processing of customer data plays an important role both in traditional business and e-commerce.

Entrepreneurship & innovation · Society & culture

How to collaborate with startups?

It is obvious that the tremendous differences in terms of culture, available resources and agility between corporates and startups present challenges for a successful cooperation. Thus, the failure and discontinuation rates of corporate startup collaboration remain high. To date, reliable success factors for these common development projects have rarely been identified. For this reason, the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG) and Spielfeld Digital Hub, a common initiative of Visa Europe and Roland Berger, have initiated a research project. The one year study “How to collaborate with startups?” will consist of two parts.

Ein Zitrone fällt ins Wasser
Science & education · Society & culture

IMPaQT – Indicators, Measurement and Performance of Quality Assurance: Third-Mission-Activities in the Social Sciences

The research project “IMPaQT” is about making knowledge transfer from research to society measurable through quality criteria and indicators.

Entrepreneurship & innovation · Society & culture

Index of Internet-based Innovation

The Index of Internet-based Innovations illustrates how sectors, regions and companies utilise the Internet when developing new products and services. The objective is to determine parameters identifying the innovative capacity of the Internet for organisational contexts. In connection with the use of information and communication technologies, some factors can serve as a basis for Internet-enabled innovation by applying their empirical indicators.

Entrepreneurship & innovation · Media & data

Innovation and Imitation in the Games Sector

This 2-year study investigated the tension between innovation and imitation in the Digital Games Industry. In this project, we understand imitation as a basic social practice that informs our learning and making. This seems to be particular true for the gaming industry: Entire game genres (think platform sidescroller games or first person shooters) have emerged by re-making and extending on great games.

Science & education · Society & culture

Innovative Open Access in small sciences (InnOAccess)

The project builds on prior work by the Internet Policy Review, published by HIIG since 2012. This journal publishes independent of any publishers, does not charge and processing fees, and has made a name for itself through an accelerated and open peer review process. Internet Policy Review follows legal changes as well the development of internet standards and norms that have long-term impacts on European societies. The journal constitutes a resource for academics, civil society, entrepreneurs, media, and politicians in equal measure.

Entrepreneurship & innovation · Society & culture

Internet of Things: Entrepreneurship & eGovernment

Our research project is divided into two areas. First, we examine the issue from the perspective of technology adaptation and commercialisation – both by startups and established companies. Secondly, we examine how governments can use these applications themselves and what role regulation plays in the internet of things.

Entrepreneurship & innovation · Society & culture

Jung. Digital. Engagiert.

The project Jung. Digital. Engagiert. ties in thematically with the Third Engagement Report, in which civic engagement is examined with a focus on the opportunities and challenges for youth and young adult engagement in the digital age. It was published in summer 2020. 

Politics & law · Society & culture

KORSE @ HIIG – the Internet and civil security in Europe

The emergence of cyberspace has challenged the law of civil security in Europe. Today, nearly all aspects of life have a digital dimension and therefore, we face new digital threats.

Learn Match Partner | HIIG
Entrepreneurship & innovation

Learn. Match. Partner.

The aim of the first phase is to develop an understanding of the functioning and basic principles of the partner. Interfaces thus found enable an initial, pragmatic short- and medium-term cooperation. These experiences create a trusting basis for medium to long-term, intensive cooperation and joint value creation (partner phase).

Networks of Outrage
Media & data · Society & culture

Networks of Outrage

In the past decade, Europe has witnessed the birth of many movements at the right end of the political spectrum.

Entrepreneurship & innovation · Science & education

Open!NEXT – Open and community-based innovation processes

New collaborations between company & consumer to foster the idea of open source and open innovation in the non-software area.

Science & education · Society & culture

Opening Science

It seems as though the digitalisation of research is accompanied by a revision of established research practices and an opening of the research process. In the lead project Open Science we examine the mentioned changes.

Politics & law · Society & culture

Participating through the Outernet

Due to technological progress and a price decline in display technologies, it is believed that almost any surface in urban spaces could become digital. In the long run, people might live ‘inside’ the Internet, surrounded by interactive and digital surfaces.

Media & data · Politics & law

Participation in German Law

In the context of a comprehensive project concerning online participation in cooperation with the Hans-Bredow-Institute, the sub-project „e-petitions“ focuses on the e-petitions platform of the German parliament, the Bundestag.

Science & education · Society & culture

Pelagios Network: Linking the places of your past

The project investigates new methodologies for using Linked Data to connect historical sources through common references using a variety of digital content including text, images, media, 3D objects, or online databases. This approach minimizes the entry threshold for data users by placing no requirements concerning the adherence to specific metadata schemas, data models, vocabularies or technical implementations with regard to the data.

Entrepreneurship & innovation · Media & data

Platform Alternatives

The project team will derive Corporate Governance Principles for digital platforms that seek to distribute collectively created value more fairly. The project is implemented jointly by HIIG and the Oxford Internet Institute (OII).

Platform Governance and Copyright | HIIG
Media & data · Society & culture

Platform Governance and Copyright (H2020)

This project tackles these issues from two complementary perspectives. It investigates the governance structures that social media platforms have devised over time to create a profitable balance between freedom & control over speech.

Skyscrapers and Wifi signals
Entrepreneurship & innovation · Media & data

Privacy by design in smart cities

How to build smart cities in a privacy and security-friendly way, when more and more movements and human…

Ranking Digital Rights
Media & data · Politics & law

Ranking Digital Rights

Ranking Digital Rights (RDR) works to promote freedom of expression and privacy on the internet by creating global standards and incentives for companies to respect and protect users’ rights.

digitale öffentliche verwaltung
Politics & law · Society & culture

The Digital Administrative State

Our research contributes to this debate by investigating the relationship between the Internet and public institutions as well as their modes of action (public governance).

Konstruktion von künstlicher Intelligenz
Politics & law · Society & culture

The discursive and political construction of AI

This project empirically investigates the discursive and political construction of AI in contemporary societies. We have started with studies on the media discourse in Germany as well as on select national AI strategies.

AI · Politics & law · Science engagement · Society & culture

The Ethics of Digitalisation – From Principles to Practices

This research project aims to develop groundbreaking answers to challenges in the area of conflict between ethics and digitalisation.

Politics & law · Science & education

The Futures of Telemedicine: Knowledge, Policy, Regulation

Digital health cards, electronic health records, medical telematics infrastructure – these are the terms dominating the public and political debates on the digitalization of the health care system in Germany. At EU level, electronic health services (eHealth) are also seen as a great opportunity.

Science & education · Society & culture

The Third Engagement Report

The Third Engagement Report is a report on civic engagement that focuses on “The Future of Civil Society: Young Engagement in the Digital Age.”

Entrepreneurship & innovation · Society & culture

User innovation in smart energy technologies

Interconnected, intelligent energy systems are a highly discussed issue. Such systems are used by customers to control and measure their energy us-age.

Politics & law · Society & culture

Wahlkompass Digitales

Click here for Wahlkompass 2021 Digital policy will be a focal point of the German federal elections…