Current Projects at the GCEI

Please find a selection of practical and research projects currently pursued at the Global Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

SNSF and SNF Projects

SNSF Research Project: Informal Entrepreneurship and Poverty Alleviation

Informal entrepreneurship (illegal yet legitimate actions for economic opportunity exploitation) is an important contributing factor to poverty alleviation in adverse contexts, such as developing countries. Although the importance of informal entrepreneurial activities in resource-poor regions, such as slums, has been widely acknowledged, the scientific understanding of it is limited due to difficulties reliably measuring and verifying informal entrepreneurial activities, as well as a simplified scholarly view of informal institutions as mere compensatory mechanisms. This research project consists of two work packages: 1) Analyzing of the extent of informal entrepreneurship in India by utilizing remote sensing data from satellites to create a reliable measure of informal economic activity; 2) Utilizing the developed measure, examine how informal entrepreneurship influences and interacts with formal institutions in the context of slums. By understanding how different formal institutions support or hinder informal entrepreneurship, this project contributes to the understanding on how to improve the context for entrepreneurship in developing countries. The results will serve as the basis for improved public policy strategies geared towards the alleviation of extreme poverty, and will provide insight into formal institutions and institutional voids within the informal economy in slums.
Further contact: Nina Zachlod


SNF Research Project: Strategic Ownership

This research project seeks to develop a strategic perspective on firm ownership, an approach to the firm that today represents largely uncharted waters in strategic management research. Progressive ownership concentration and the emerging role of owners as strategists poses a problem to researchers, policymakers and regulators alike, whose core working assumptions are still heavily dominated by agency theory and the assumption of ownership dispersion. The strategic ownership perspective holds the promise to develop new theory and measurements that take a more owner-centred view and assign a direct role to owners in shaping the firm’s strategic decisions and ultimately value creation. This three-year research project is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation and will run through until summer 2024. Participating researchers are Thomas Zellweger, Christine Scheef, Marie Klein and Sebastian Sigg.
Further contact: Christine Scheef


SNF Research Project on New Venture Boards

The research team of Prof. Wincent, Grichnik, Hess and Malmström has been granted a Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) funded research project on “Overcoming Gender Stereotypes in New Venture Board Networks”. The project will develop an understanding of director selection mechanisms at board formation, the role of networks, barriers toward women, and the effects of gender diversity on performance in technology startups.
Further contact: Manuel Hess

Further Research Projects

Mental and physical health promotion in Entrepreneurs as Implications for Success

Entrepreneurs face daily challenges and important business decisions that often come with risks, making it a significantly challenging. However, exhaustion, stress, lack of sleep and poor eating habit can have adverse effects on their decision-making behavior and business development. To explore the impact of sleep conditions on entrepreneurs' decision-making strategies and business success, we are conducting a 12-week intervention study. We will examine and promote the sleep behavior of entrepreneurs using sleep trackers and digital biomarkers to measure improvements in sleep patterns and recovery. Additionally, we will include microbiome tests to assess the potential influence of gut health on their daily business performances. Subsequently, we will assess the effects of sleep and health promotion on their risk-taking and decision-making ability through experimental tasks. By gaining insights into the sleep, gut health, and decision-making behavior of business owners, we aim to understand how these factors influence successful strategy implementation and positive company development. Our hypothesis is that by reducing entrepreneurs' stress levels and improving their sleep quality, we can significantly enhance their decision-making behavior and overall business performance. Further contact: Robert Schreiber


Entrepreneurs as scientists

Uncertainty is an omnipresent factor in entrepreneurship. This research project probes into how entrepreneurs can navigate such uncertainty effectively, putting forth a paradigm known as "scientific entrepreneurship." This perspective posits that entrepreneurs can deploy a scientific approach—forming theories, testing hypotheses, validating their assumptions, and conducting experiments—to circumnavigate uncertainty and generate value. However, the understanding of how and why entrepreneurs adopt this method and its implications for venture outcomes remain somewhat fragmented and are a subject of ongoing debate within the research community. This research project sets out to illuminate these aspects. It ties entrepreneurs' formative experiences with the type of action they adopt (scientific or intuitive) and maps the ensuing impact on venture size. In addition, it tackles the challenge of quantifying scientific entrepreneurial action by developing a comprehensive metric for these actions. This endeavour is dedicated to crafting a nuanced scale that encapsulates the pivotal components of scientific entrepreneurship, alongside exploring other innovative techniques such as language-based measures. By bringing together the antecedents, measurement, and consequences of scientific entrepreneurial action, the project aims to offer a comprehensive view of the “entrepreneur-as-scientist” approach. Participating researchers are Thomas Zellweger, Vangelis Souitaris and Anna Paulina Schröder. Further contact: Anna Paulina Schröder


Global Family Business Index

First time online: The world's 500 largest family businesses.
The Center for Family Business, together with EY's Global Family Business Center of Excellence, publishes the "Global Family Business Index". It shows the world's 500 largest family businesses. Together they employ 21 million people, almost as many as live in Australia.
Further contact: Marie Klein


Global University Entrepreneurial Spirit Students' Survey (GUESSS)

The international research project GUESSS (Global University Entrepreneurial Spirit Students' Survey) investigates students' career choice intentions on a global level. The main research focus are career choice intentions of students in general, and their entrepreneurial intentions in particular. Several influencing factors are investigated, such as university context, family context, motives, and attitudes. Moreover, we are especially interested in students with family business background, who have the opportunity to take over their parents' business. In total, 50 countries were involved in GUESSS 2016, which lead to a dataset with the responses of more than 122'000 students from more than 1000 universities. EY is supporting GUESSS on an international level, and nationally we are supported by «venturelab» and «venturekick».
Further contact: Heiko Bergmann and Philipp Sieger


Research on Business Model Innovation and Ecosystems

A core group of the Chair for Innovation Management continues with research projects in the area of patterns of business model innovation with special emphasis on platforms and ecosystems. Our spin-off is updating practical insights on and Further contact: Oliver Gassmann


Decision Making Research Lab

We investigate learning processes and decision-making that leads entrepreneurs to act on opportunities. In our research, we heavily rely on state-of-the-art methods, such as experiments and meta-analyses. Our currently the largest project is an SNF-funded research project in collaboration with ETH Zurich. It investigates new venture team learning and leadership emergence. In addition to our research activities, we collaborate with numerous internationally leading universities. The team consists of Dietmar Grichnik, Robert Schreiber and Barbara Schmidt.
Further contact: Robert Schreiber


Sustainability Innovation Lab

The Sustainability Innovation Lab concerns itself with the management of sustainability transformations of firms, industries, and geographic regions (cities and rural areas). Its main topics of interest and expertise include business model innovation (i.e., the transition to circular business models/sustainable business models), the management of ecosystems and stakeholder involvement/stakeholder engagement, as well as scaling. It often studies these topics in the context of digital technologies (e.g., Artificial Intelligence), alternative technologies (e.g., CNG-fueled vehicles), and their implementation for enhanced sustainability (e.g., smart mobility, smart cities). Our findings on these topics are published in top-tier academic journals, as well as in practice-oriented articles and books. Besides conducting research on these topics, we actively engage in application-oriented projects and cooperate with industry partners. The Sustainability Innovation Lab is currently involved in projects funded by firms, the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF/SNF), and the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE). Previously, the Sustainability Innovation Lab was active in the Horizon 2020 project “Smarter Together” funded by the European Commission from 2016 to 2021 and in the Swiss Competence Center for Energy Research (SCCER) CREST funded by Innosuisse from 2014 to 2020. In the SCCER, the Sustainability Innovation Lab was leader of the section “Energy, Innovation, Management”. If you want to receive more information or if you are interested in cooperating with us, please contact Max Palmie.


Energy Innovation Lab

The Energy Innovation Lab aims at academically examining the energy sector and related industries. In light of the energy transition, we consider issues concerning stakeholder management, the effects of organizational structures, and the role of business model innovation. For work on the latter topic, we are collaborating closely with our department’s Competence Center for Business Model Innovation and the institute’s spin-off, BMI-Lab. We are actively approaching various energy sector players, completing projects with industry partners, and publishing in top-tier international academic journals. Further contact: Maximilian Palmié


Startup@HSG Lab

Startup@HSG is the first point of contact for startups and entrepreneurship at the University of St.Gallen. Our Startup-Lab supports students and all other HSG-members on their entrepreneurial path, independently of which level they reached so far (idea, prototype, or ready for market). We offer an incubation program, startup-coaching, startup offices, startup events, a MakerSpace, and much more. HSG-Startups that are already successful can apply for our HSG-Spin-Off-Label and join the network of amazing HSG-Entrepreneurs. On top, we annually award an outstanding entrepreneur of the HSG with the prize “HSG Founder of The Year”. The team of this Lab consists of Dietmar Grichnik, Diego Probst, Sarah Maria Nordt, Besart Kajdomqai, Stefan Gahrens, and Michael Greger. Further contact: Diego Probst


St.Galler Startup NavigatorTM Lab

The St.Galler Startup NavigatorTM teaches you how to systematically create your business. It is a practical guide, which builds on cutting-edge entrepreneurship research and best practices of some of the most successful entrepreneurs in Europe. Learn how to apply the Startup Cockpit with more than 66 tools and methods to make sure that your business decisions are based on facts instead of beliefs. The team consists of Dietmar Grichnik, Manuel Hess, and Diego Probst. Further contact: Manuel Hess

Publications of GCEI Researchers