The Institute Labour and Economy (iaw) was founded in November 2001 by an agreement between the Bremen Chamber of Labour and the University of Bremen. Since then, the iaw has been run jointly by the two cooperation partners.

The iaw’s predecessors were the Research Dissemination Office and the central scientific unit “Labour and Region”, which were two important pillars of the cooperation between the University and the Chamber of Labour known as the KUA. The KUA was an institute at the University of Bremen with the following tasks:

  • Initiating, funding and conducting research projects
  • Disseminating scientific findings
  • Offering further academic training


In order to continue and further specify the existing tasks, the University of Bremen established a central operating unit “Institute Labour and Economy”. A contract between the University of Bremen and the Bremen Chamber of Labour clearly defines the institute’s tasks, the focus of its research programme as well as staffing levels and its budget.


Focus on three research units since 2015

The iaw initially operated with seven research units, each with its own independent leadership. In 2006 the seven units were consolidated into four: Institutional Change in Work, Employment and Society, Qualification and Skill Acquisition, Cities and Regions, Economics and Fiscal Policy. Since 2015, the unit Cities and Regions was merged with Economics and Fiscal Policy and two units were renamed: 


Orientation of the research programme

The current research programme focuses on structural change in regions and sectors, research on qualification and skill acquisition, structural change in cities, regions and the public sector as well as changes in work, employment and society. A major concern in the research is how these changes affect workers and which opportunities they have to shape new challenges. In relation to these tasks, the contract underlines the iaw’s research freedom.


Focus on three research perspectives

In order to better integrate the research processes and projects and to orientate them towards common research questions, in the coming years the iaw will concentrate on three research perspectives that cross-cut all the research units: “Sustainability”, “Transformation” and “New forms of governance in the economy, labour and cities/regions”.

The strategic goal of concentrating the research work is to further optimise the networking between research activities and to harness synergy effects.