Method Development Research Area

Center for Interdisciplinary Risk and Innovation Studies

The research area Method Development develops and researches innovative methods for the interdisciplinary analysis of socio-technical systems. Special emphasis is put on Cross-Impact Balance Analysis (CIB) and Group Delphi.

The method development research area develops and researches innovative methods for the interdisciplinary analysis of socio-technical systems. Special emphasis is given to Cross-Impact Balance Analysis (CIB) and the Group Delphi Procedure.

The research that ZIRIUS carries out in particular issue areas often requires innovative methods and methodological development. In order to meet the methodological requirements of our research projects as well as contribute to the social sciences’ methodological portfolio, the method development research area develops, studies and evaluates relevant research methods, their properties and effects as well as the benefits of combining new, innovative and established methods. Currently, the focus is on three main research areas:


Cross-Impact Balance Analysis (CIB) is a qualitative analysis technique that makes systematic use of qualitative expert opinions in order to develop qualitative scenarios or assess intervention effects in complex but weakly defined systems. ZIRIUS supports the CIB method, which is now being used internationally by numerous research groups, through reflexive method research, a method homepage and the maintenance of free application software, the ScenarioWizard.

The group Delphi method provides a framework for an (interdisciplinary) open and constructive discourse between experts and leads to a cooperative assessment of scientific issues. The integration of discursive elements also allows the participating experts to exchange substantive reasons and justifications for their opinions. These justifications can be collected for more in-depth qualitative analysis. ZIRIUS has already designed, conducted and scientifically reflected many applications of the method.

Through its interdisciplinary orientation and numerous collaborations with partners from engineering and social sciences, ZIRIUS is intensely involved in innovative cooperation formats for developing research approaches for the social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering. In addition to designing and further developing socio-technical context scenarios using Cross-Impact Balance analysis, we study interdisciplinary issues by using Delphi methods or socio-technical simulation models, or by combining measurement and survey data.

Current Projects of this Research Area

As a consequence of climate change, conflicts over groundwater and surface water are expected to increase in Germany in the future. As part of the Ladenburger Kolleg of the Daimler and Benz Foundation, a joint project coordinated by ZIRIUS is researching these possible conflicts. In the CIB-Lab, participatory modeling and simulation games are used to investigate future context factors and actor strategies in their interactions. We use CIB in the form of participatory modeling to enable interested and potentially affected stakeholders to experience future water conflicts as well as complex consequences of policies. To this end, we are co-designing a joint web application and conducting simulation games with CIB in three case studies.

Am Beispiel der Region Nordschwarzwald erforscht das Verbundprojekt KoOpRegioN regionale Kooperationsoptionen für die nachhaltige Landnutzung. Das CIB-Lab führt hierzu eine CIB-gestützten Policy-Design Prozess durch, um „Policy-Mixe für Gewerbeflächen der Zukunft“ zu entwickeln. Dabei werden Zielkonflikte explizit adressiert und Maßnahmenbündel entwickelt, die gleichzeitig mehrere Ziele erreichen: 1) Verbesserung der Stadt-Umland Zusammenarbeit; 2) Reduktion der Flächeninanspruchnahme; 3) Verbesserung der wirtschaftlichen Leistungsfähigkeit. Die Ergebnisse fließen im weiteren Verlauf des Projekts in die Szenarienentwicklung und in die Vorbereitung einer Praxisphase ein.

Laufzeit: 2020 - 2023                                

Förderung: BMBF            

Partner: Regionalverband Nordschwarzwald (Koordination), EIFER (wiss. Koordination), ITAS, MWO   

AnsprechpartnerInnen: Hannah Kosow, Sandra Wassermann

To the Project

In the joint project, an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary concept for the resilient design of the digital energy transition is to be developed with scientific and practical experts, as well as a resilience monitoring, the core of which is a stress test instrument. The main focus of the project is the development of this system-analytical instrument and the concept of its social integration.

To the Project

In the joint project Genese, a systematic characterization of different aspects of societal change, the recording of the effects of change on electricity demand, a detailed modeling of the change in demand profiles and the evaluation of these profiles via the integration into energy system models with low temporal resolution as well as electricity market models with high temporal resolution is carried out. The CIB-Lab analyzes aspects of societal change and creates consistent, cross-sectoral driver constellations for demand change with the CIB, which act as a starting point as well as a link between the models.

To the Project

The joint project SyKonaS develops a fundamental, conceptual and methodological approach for the analysis of actor conflicts in energy transition pathways. To this end, the CIB Lab analysis the interactions between conflicts on different levels of the transformation process on the one hand, and the institutional, technical, economic and legal framework conditions on the other hand (conflict lines). In order to support the knowledge gain with practical knowledge, stakeholders are involved who contribute to the identification of conflicts, the assessment of systemic interactions and the development of solutions.

To the Project

The MANIFOLD project aims to enable energy system models, despite their primarily techno-economic focus, to better take into account the results of quantitative and qualitative empirical socio-economic analyses of the behaviour of actors in the context of the energy system transformation and, above all, to do so with less methodological effort.

To the Project

Members Research Area Method Development


This image shows Wolfgang Hauser

Wolfgang Hauser


Spokesperson Method Development Research Area / Research Associate

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