Viola Gerlach is concerned with the role of companies in the transformation process of society. Within the framework of the initiative "GesellschaftUnternehmen" (SocietyCompany), which she founded, suitable processes are identified together with women entrepreneurs, scientists and politicians that can bring about systemic changes. The goal is to identify framework conditions to strengthen the transformative effectiveness of women entrepreneurs and to intensify their cooperation with science, politics and society.
Climate change, loss of biodiversity, and the division of society also require entrepreneurial competencies for systemic change. In her research, she is addressing, the question of how companies that are already proactively shaping society's transformation process towards sustainability can be even better integrated into co-creative processes, and how companies that are not yet or not very active can reflect on and reorient their own role in participatory processes.
Based on a new understanding of leadership that allows for dealing with complexity, uncertainty and conflicting goals at the interface with society, she includes various interacting levels in her work. For individual values and competencies of leaders (individual level) are a prerequisite for a realignment of business models and corporate goals and a resulting openness to dialogue with stakeholders (corporate level) and a resulting co-creative shaping of society (societal level).