Building on our track record, the goal of the department of Economics for the coming years is to further improve our academic standing by a strong dedication to publishing in the top general interest journals in economics. This publication strategy will be based on a clear continued focus on three research areas, allowing us to systematically enhance our existing international visibility and prestige in those fields. The three areas reflect variety in terms of content, but across the programme researchers are familiar with each other’s work and they need to confront the same methodological issues, especially regarding empirical research. Consequently, the past years have already shown extensive communication and collaboration across the following three research areas.

Programme leaders

Research areas

Economics of Organisations

Research revolves around two central themes: the organisation of the decision-making process and organisational aspects of the execution of the work (for example, governance, incentives, recruitment and organisational culture). The theoretical research done in this area is typically inspired by stylized facts and often has a ‘behavioural’ flavour, departing from standard neoclassical preferences. The empirical research performed by the area is mostly field-experimental, where researchers collaborate with organisations to examine behavioural responses to organisational innovations.

Economic Geography & Trade

Research concentrates on the causes and consequences of the very unequal distribution of economic activity around the world. A particular focus point is the way that economic activity in one place affects that in others through trade, and the increasing importance of international supply chains. Research in this area combines theory with empirical investigations.

Policy Economics

Research concentrates on the underlying drivers of income and wealth inequality, which increased almost everywhere in the Western world in recent decades. This has fundamental implications for most branches of public policy. The policy economics research area does both economic theory and empirical research. Theoretical work focuses on tax and redistribution policy, monetary policy and trade policy. To identify causal policy effects researchers carry out policy evaluations by analysing natural experiments and conducting field experiments in co-operation with government agencies.

International collaboration

Leveraging international collaboration with other leading groups around the world will primarily be achieved by the organisation of conferences and workshops, academic visits, and by inviting researchers from top-schools for short visiting positions. Such events are also instrumental to bringing doctoral talent in personal contact with leading foreign scholars, e.g. as a preparation for a joint paper and/or a position at a leading school abroad. The department allocates a substantial part of its budget to these knowledge exchange activities and it has already seen how this has led to further intensification of our international research network in the past.

Key publications

  • Maarten Bosker, Eltjo Buringh, and Jan Luiten van Zanden (2013), From Baghdad to London: unravelling urban development in Europe and the Arab world 800-1800, Review of Economics and Statistics, 95(4), pp. 1418-1437.
  • Josse Delfgaauw and Robert Dur (2008), Incentives and Workers’ Motivation in the Public Sector, The Economic Journal, 118(525), pp. 171–191.

Relevance to society

Most of our research has direct and immediate social relevance thanks to applied research on real-world policy problems. As a result the researchers in this programme cooperate extensively with private and public organisations, in a range of ways. Several researchers actively cooperate with policy makers as academic advisors (for example, at CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Research, SER, World bank, IMF and several government ministries in the Netherlands and abroad). The number of researchers with experience in conducting field experiments will be increased. Some members of the research programme are very active in disseminating research to the general public, via TV interviews, columns, blogs etc.