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Research programme

Economics and Business Economics at Radboud University is Economics+. We deliver out-of-the-box thinking economists who make use of the standard repertoire of economics theories and methods. In addition to that we integrate related theories and methods from other disciplines such as psychology, sociology and political science. In turn, they are able to contribute to the discussion and resolution of important social questions by changing perspectives. Our research is driven by real-world economic problems, puts the economic dimension of these problems in an interdisciplinary context and results in actionable outcomes that help overcome these problems.

Core elements

We focus on the topic Governance of Economic Behaviour and aim to achieve actionable outcomes in the realm of economics and business. That is why we study decision-making behaviour at individual level. Of course we include the external drivers of decision-making as well since decisions are shaped by the social context in which they are made. The department carved out three main research questions that help the researchers focus on the mission.

1. Institutions and individuals

What are instititions most effective at? Disciplining behavioural deviations from optimal decisions made at different levels. We want to understand interactions between behavioural forces (e.g. preferences, rationality and social factors) that affect individual and organisational decision making. This leads to the ability to provide recommendations on institution design to allow for goal-oriented and efficient decision making. The methods we use are:

  • experiments;
  • mathematical models;
  • network analysis;
  • econometric analysis of large scale surveys;
  • historical-philosophical analysis;
  • The Global Data Lab provides data for the study of institutions and individuals.

2. Organisational networks

Many resources and processes that are important for the functioning and performance of organizations no longer reside within their own boundaries, but are often controlled by others. This gives rise to many challenges for the governance and control of intra-organizational and inter-organizational relations. Research within this theme is performed from multiple paradigmatic stances. It draws on (organisational) economics but also acknowledges that in order to account for the dynamics in the governance and control of organisations and networks, other network theories may be important sources for empirical research.

3. Behavioural Decision Making.

In mainstream economics, a decision maker is seen as a dispassionate rational utility maximizer. Such a benchmark within an abstract picture of the decision environment allows for tractability of mathematical models. Actual economic decision making is often not in line with this concept; many decisions can be explained by incorporating cognitive and emotional biases leading to fast and frugal heuristics in decision making, or to making decisions based on non-monetary preferences, social norms and status. We aim to understand how and why people make economic decisions beyond rationality, in order to suggest successful intervention and support systems. Policies at the macro, meso and micro-level have to understand such behavioural biases in decision making to be able to target effective interventions. We commonly make use of a diverse range of experiments:

  • survey experiments;
  • lab, field and lab in field. In order to answer the research questions, we often do research in the IMR Labs.

For a more extensive overview of the department’s research programme, visit this intranet page.