Research at the institute specialises in issues of work and employment. Within this clearly defined profile, it covers a broad range of topics and activities.

FORBA's research areas deal with the micro level of the individual, social interaction and working conditions and the meso level of the organisation or network as well as with the macro level of the labour market and global economy. Research practice at the institute relies on a series of qualitative and quantitative methods. Special features of research at FORBA include its multidisciplinary character and openness to many forms of cooperation. Although grant-funded academic research currently predominates, the institute's strengths also include contract and policy-consultancy research.

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