The INZ is a leading non-university institution for the historical research of the Habsburg Monarchy, its successor states and the Balkan region. The Institute conducts original research for the purpose of investigating, securing and interpreting cultural heritage.

The research at the INZ spans epochs and incorporates a broad range of methods in exploring fundamental historical and cultural issues related to the area of investigation. Besides historical questions, these include anthropological and linguistic issues and active participation in scholarly discourse. The Institute provides orientational knowledge about history through its research projects and publications. In order to communicate research results to a non-specialist audience, the INZ is also working to test and develop new, contemporary methods and formats.