Human resources

Networking and cooperation

Running strategic cooperation and mobility programmes to strengthen national and international networking in research, teaching, young talent promotion, infrastructures, and transfer

What do we mean by this?

National and international cooperation and networking are constitutive of the science system and open up manifold synergies. Cooperation is equally important at all levels: personal, institutional, and regional; project-specific, medium-term, and long-term; internal and cross-institutional. It can relate as much to research as it can to teaching, young talent promotion, infrastructures, and knowledge and technology transfer.

It is the duty of a research organisation to ensure that the necessary conditions exist for its scientists and its administrative staff to cooperate at the national and international levels.

Networking and alumni
For human resources management, the importance of networking and cooperation can be seen in contexts such as personnel marketing, the recruitment of young scientists, and the design of cross-regional training programmes, as well as in the management of fixed-term employment positions for opening up job and career opportunities with cooperation partners. In relation to personnel development, international mobility programmes support both the expansion of individual competencies and the growth of knowledge within the organisation. Important professional competencies can be further developed by networking science-supporting staff, including the HR managers themselves.

In addition, it is becoming increasingly important to establish alumni networks. These are expert networks in which former employees cooperate with the research organisation as project partners or clients and support employee development by sharing their professional experiences and by mentoring junior researchers.

International networking can serve the exchange of knowledge with developing, emerging, and developed countries, for example in the form of hosting guest researchers or foreign posting of employees. Among their responsibilities, research organisations are expected to support cultural exchange and to integrate foreign scientists.

Networking also has the effect of strengthening an entire nation as a centre of science and research. Cooperation allows regional science locations to develop with supraregional significance, and secures access to global knowledge flows as well as to significant research topics and locations.

Furthermore, and especially, international research collaborations and networks are urgently needed for the scientific treatment of societal challenges, given that they are usually global in nature and concern actors across national and geographical borders.

Finally, cooperation creates advantages when it comes to the investment, operation, and use of research infrastructures (for example library network systems, scientific collections and databases, laboratories, and large-scale facilities such as accelerators, telescopes, or supercomputers). Joint use with national and international partners allows better utilisation of infrastructures to their full capacities.

Political conditions for networking and cooperation

The Pact for Research and Innovation attaches particular importance to national cross-organisational networking of research institutions and to international and European cooperation.

To secure and further develop Germany as a research location, the German Federal Government developed an Internationalisation Strategy in 2008 and, to operationalise it, an Action Plan on International Cooperation in 2014. European and international research programmes such as Horizon 2020 offer platforms for European/international research partnerships.

In its 2015 position paper "Grand Societal Challenges as a Topic for Science Policy", the German Council of Science and Humanities emphasises the importance of cross-border cooperation in the scientific treatment of global societal and ecological challenges.

How could a research organisation implement this?

  • Expand intercultural competencies and foreign language skills of domestic and foreign staff
  • Provide continued training of non-scientific staff on international contracts, social legislation, administrative procedures, and funding conditions
  • Strategically coordinate with cooperation partners from science and industry regarding the efficient joint use of research infrastructures to their full capacities

Practical examples

Fraunhofer-Alumni e.V.

Fraunhofer Alumni-Summit,© Dirk Mahler
The association Fraunhofer-Alumni e.V. was founded and the attractive information and communication platform "Fraunhofer-Alumni-Portal" was put online as a way to maintain contact with as many alumni as possible and to create a unique and lively network of experts.

Visit the website

Junior Research Programmes of the Fraunhofer-Institutszentrum Stuttgart

The institutes of the Fraunhofer-Institutszentrum Stuttgart give school pupils and tertiary students the opportunity to get a taste of working at a research institution. For example, each year, around 40 pupils complete a BOGY internship at one of the five Fraunhofer institutes in Stuttgart. Around 100 schoolgirls are also welcomed on Girls' Day. Since 2007, Fraunhofer has cooperated with local childcare facilities to provide work experience opportunities on Boys' Day. The three-day Fraunhofer Talent School has also been held in Stuttgart since 2008. The institutes offer the experience of working at a research institution to tertiary students from a wide range of disciplines. They can learn about this, for example, at the event Checkpoint Zukunft (Checkpoint Future) – the day for students.

Visit the website (tertiary students) [site in German only]

Visit the website (school students) [site in German only]

Leibniz-DAAD Research Fellowships

The Leibniz DAAD Research Fellowships enable outstanding young researchers to spend a year conducting research at a Leibniz Institute.

Visit the website

Leibniz PhD Network

The Leibniz PhD Network was founded with the goal of promoting professional and interdisciplinary exchange among the approximately 3000 PhD students within the Leibniz Association and beyond. This is to provide opportunities that promote and strengthen the Leibniz PhD Network and thus help establish common standards for PhD students within the Leibniz Association. The Leibniz PhD Network also aims to increase the transparency of career options in and outside academia, as well as to promote interdisciplinary collaboration.

Visit the website

Scientific Job Shadowing Programme of the Leibniz Association

The Leibniz Association and the Federal Foreign Office created their joint Science Job Shadowing programme as an instrument for the internationalisation of science management.

Visit the website

Further information

Pact for Research and Innovation III
Show details [in German]

Federal Ministry of Education and Research (2008):
"To strengthen Germany's role in the global knowledge-based society. Strategy of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research"
Show details

Federal Ministry of Education and Research (2014-2016):
"Internationale Kooperation. Aktionsplan des Bundesministeriums für Bildung und Forschung"
Show details [in German]

German Council of Science and Humanities (2015):
"Zum wissenschaftspolitischen Diskurs über Große gesellschaftliche Herausforderungen"
Show details [in German]