The messiness and creative capacity of interpersonal relationships
in the business world fuel my sociological imagination. My research focuses
on entrepreneurial groups, their cultures and ways of owning.


For more information on the efforts of our ongoing Research Group please visit:


Research Projects






Exit in German Mittelstand

Economic prognoses indicate an increase of successions within German Mittelstand within the next years. At the same time, the mode of how ownership is being transferred is shifting: For the first time the majority of business owners prefers an external sale over internal succession. This research project examines this cultural shift in succession practices from gifting to selling. Adapting an emergent market perspective, we identify factors and key actors that help explain the content and dynamics of this cultural shift. We conduct expert interviews with a wide variety of field actors (buyers, sellers, state, intermediaries), which are evaluated using a grounded theory approach.

17-21 (5 y.)



Imagined Futures (with M. Gutzeit)

Drafting a vision and acting as if this vision could become true is an essential feature of entrepreneurial activity. In this study, we examine how family entrepreneurial groups draft and negotiate such imagined futures. Based on Jens Beckert's theory of anticipated futures and Weik’s approach of sense-making in organizations, we focus on the micro-politics of such future negotiations. To this end, we conducted group discussions with entrepreneurial families from German crafts and analyzed them using documentary methods. Preliminary results suggest that the content and degree of newness of imagined futures negotiated among family entrepreneurial groups is strongly defined the group structure and power dynamics of ongoing positioning processes.

17-21 (4 y.)



Entrepreneurial Group Trajectories (with M. Weinhardt):

Following a process sociological perspective, this project investigates the plural trajectories of entrepreneurial groups. The aim is to identify patterns and turning points in these trajectories. To this end, we have built up a data set based on data from the German Commercial Register, which allows us to trace the pathways of newly founded businesses in four cohorts (1997, 2002, 2007, 2012) up to the present. Preliminary results underline that the vast majority of these business foundings indeed take place in small groups, that there are considerable differences in the stability of these groups and that clear patterns can be identified with regard to their trajectories.

17-21 (5 y.)



Data Traces (with M. Weinhardt and M. Gutzeit):

In this exploratory project, we are developing and testing the approach of didactic crowd science as a combination of online teaching and crowd science. For this purpose, we have designed a platform that on the one hand provides knowledge about the origin and quality of digital data and on the other hand enables research on the social relationships of members of entrepreneurial groups online. We identify opportunities and challenges of this approach and sketch conditions for the success of this variant of crowd science.

17-20 (3 y.)



Solidarity with Solo Self-Employed (with L. Schürmann)

Solo self-employed are given special priority in the course of the emergency aid programs introduced by state and federal governments to support the German economy in times of the Corona pandemic. However, both the imposition of this programm and its use are ambivalent with regard to the social acceptance of the political measure, as well as for the self-employed as a social group. In this qualitative research project, we investigate precisely these ambivalences from an internal and external perspective and in this way identify societal conditions for the acceptance of aid for specific groups, thus contributing to the socially acceptable management of future crises.

20 (6 m.))

BUA Berlin


Partnership Expectations in Entrepreneurial Couples (with Fabian Bernhard, EDHEC Paris, and Jan-Philipp Ahrens, Universität Mannheim): From a family institutional theory perspective, we examine the relevance entrepreneurial couples attain to marriage as an institutionalized and legally secure form of long-term cohabitation. On the basis of pairfam data, we can show that family entrepreneurial couples are more oriented towards traditional marriage and expect more support from their partners than non-family entrepreneurs or depend employees would.

19-20 (y.)



Sharing Qualitative Data for Reuse –  an ethnography of the Global STEP Project

15-17 (2y.)



An Exploration Into the Dynamics of Entrepreneurial Legacies with Frank Barbera and Rocki-Lee DeWitt

15-17 (2y.)

Grand Valley State


Crowdsourcing as Research Method in the Humanities and Social Sciences with Wanda Lieberman and Lina Eklund

16-17 (2y.)



Life Course Dynamics in American Entrepreneurial Families and their Effects on Firm Continuity

15-17 (2,5y.)

DFG (Research Fellow)


Flexible Working Arrangements in Entrepreneurial Families – an analysis of pairfam with Nicole Hameister & Fabian Bernhard

14-16 (2y.)



Familienfreundliche Maßnahmen mittelständischer Unternehmen in Bayern, GIB Berlin

12-13 (1 y.)

Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Wirtschaft


Unternehmerfamilie: Der Einfluss von Unternehmen auf Lebenslauf, Generationenbeziehungen und soziale Identität. Doktorarbeit

07-12 (5y.)



Von Generation zu Generation: Der Nachfolgeprozess in Familienunternehmen mit Martin Kohli und Nicole Hameister

07-11 (3,5y.)

VW-Stiftung (Schlüsselthemen der Geisteswissenschaften)