Guiding principles

What we stand for

We want to improve our society! We are confident this will succeed only through dialogue and under­standing. That’s why we work to promote understanding between peoples and between social groups in Germany, for greater enlightenment and reflection through science, education and culture, and for confrontation with our historical origin and identity.

Through our work we want to stimulate debates, try out solutions, and win over the people around us to involve themselves.

Speaking. We see ourselves as a platform for social dialogue that brings together people from different political, social and cultural backgrounds. We contribute to ensuring that arguments and ideas holding future promise get a hearing. We involve ourselves in events and publications with positions of their own in current debates.

Acting. We respond to social challenges through our projects, and we develop and implement our own ideas and formats. We identify examples of “good practice”, adopt them and carry them forward, either on our own or together with partners.

Motivating. We bring together disseminators and decision-makers, and encourage people to gain new insights. We encourage the younger generation to develop their own abilities and to take on responsibility. We support, promote and appreciate people who open up scope for future action and show exemplary dedication towards improving our coexistence.

What we do

We focus our work on social challenges, which were already fundamental concerns of Kurt A. Körber, our founder.

Demographic change – Germany’s population is shrinking and ageing, while becoming more diverse at the same time. To prepare ourselves for this future, we forge new alliances between science, politics, civil society and the economy. We develop commitment networks and advocate more shared responsibility on the part of citizens. We campaign for a diversity of lifestyles in old age, and for successful models of integration.

Innovation, the ability to bring something new into the world, is indispensable for our society, which is why we encourage an inquiring spirit among children and young people, and invest in the younger generation just as much as in top-class science. However, innovations also rely on a society that is willing to change. That’s why we discuss the opportunities and risks of innovations on a variety of different platforms, and campaign for a climate of critical openness.

International understanding thrives on dialogue. We encourage debate across national, political, cultural and religious boundaries under the motto “Talk to, not about one another”, and bring as many of the relevant players as possible to the same table. We take into consideration as many different identities as possible, encourage confrontation with historical issues, support an attitude of mutual respect, explore the scope for political action and highlight practically-oriented routes for international collaboration.

How we work

entrepreneurially
We are convinced that social progress always needs courage, willingness to experiment and a readiness to take risks. Consequently we also encourage lateral thinking together with a focus on unconventional ideas.

competently
We see ourselves as professional, competent and possessing specialist expert knowledge. Instead of limiting our horizon, our work is interdisciplinary and exploits the potentials of our networks.

transparently
To make our work easy to understand, we regularly reflect on what we do. We are supported in this by a network of experts whom we recruit as our advisors, in advisory councils or in juries.

cooperatively
We are aware that complex social challenges demand collaboration between many stakeholders, which is why we seek cooperation with partners from civil society, science, industry, politics, culture and the media. We are guided, both internally and externally, by collegiality, appreciation and respect.

Our origins

Our Foundation was created in 1959 by the entrepreneur Kurt A. Körber (1909 - 1992). Körber had not only built up a group of technology companies with worldwide operations since the late nineteen-forties, but also transferred his entrepreneurial creative drive to civil society. Körber believed in the feasibility of social change and in problem-oriented solutions. We see ourselves as a Foundation in this tradition.

The Körber Foundation is the sole shareholder of Körber AG, and earns further income from its own free assets. We take care to ensure strict independence between Körber AG and the Körber Foundation. Körber AG does not exercise any influence over the work of the Körber Foundation, and the Körber Foundation does not influence Körber AG’s operational business.

The rule that also applies to the Foundation’s ongoing work is that we place great importance on remaining ideologically, religiously and party-politically independent. Because only through openness and a willingness to achieve understanding that transcends borders will we be able to fulfil our Founder’s remit to “work together to shape our future” and thus make society better.