The MPIfG is managed by two directors. The role of managing director alternates between the directors every two years, but both share responsibility for all decisions regarding the Institute's research.
Max Planck institutes are, within the guidelines of the Max Planck Society, independent and autonomous in the choice and pursuit of their research interests.
The Scientific Advisory Board of the MPIfG, an independent body of international scholars, evaluates the Institute’s research and results every three years and advises the directors on development of the research program. The MPIfG Board of Trustees, with representatives from business, government, and the media, convenes annually to promote contact between the Institute and the public. At the Institute Assembly, which is held twice a year and open to all members of the MPIfG, the directors and research staff review the Institute's research goals.
Research at the MPIfG is organized around projects conducted by individual researchers or groups of researchers collaborating internationally. For the MPIfG, cooperation with scholars at universities and institutions abroad is both a desirable and effective way of organizing research. Regular meetings at workshops and conferences bring the researchers together in their teams to discuss every step of the process, from identifying a topic, researching the literature, collecting data, and conducting interviews to evaluating the material and ultimately publishing their results.
A strong infrastructure is essential to research and organization and ensures international connectivity. A network of committees facilitates communication between research and service. As the basis of internal cooperation, it optimizes work between the directors, head of administration, the research coordinators and service groups, and the researchers and their projects. The committees – IT, library, professional development, publications, and internet – are each made up of research and service staff, chaired by a researcher, and discuss functional and organizational issues relating to the Institute. The managing director, heads of the service groups, the committee chairs, and the chair of the works council convene once a month for the management committee meeting. The MPIfG has a works council to represent the interests of the employees vis-à-vis the employer.