Valeska Korff is an organization sociologist conducting research on institutionalization – the processes through which practices and patterns attain normative stability, become taken for granted, and as such take on a life of their own. In particular, she is interested in the ambiguities and contestations associated with institutionalization and the role of organizations as drivers and sites of these dynamics.
Tensions of institutionalization are particularly palpable in the nonprofit sector, with organizations typically oscillating between normative motivations emphasizing social causes on the one hand, and rational considerations of outcomes and effectiveness on the other. This makes the concerned organizations rich research sites and is the reason why her research concentrates on nonprofit/nongovernmental organizations and their relations to their workforce and environment.
In addition, she is interested in the relations between diverse organizations – public agencies, NGOs, social movements, research institutes, and private enterprises – in the context of international development, and the local-global dynamics involved in the proliferation of ‘universal’ concepts like human rights or indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination.