The projected PhD research focuses on firms' behavior and the phenomenon of crowding out in the context of the legal design of sustainability policies. Crowding out is a behavioral mechanism that leads well-intentioned firms to lose their intrinsic motivation to display desirable behavior, in this case the pursuit of sustainability goals. The crowding out mechanism can cause legal norms, deterrence, and regulatory supervision to have the opposite effect of that which is desired: interventions and incentives can lead to less instead of more compliance. This has a bearing on effective policy design.
The main research questions are:
- As to the legal subjects concerned: Are different groups of firms susceptible to the crowding out effect to different degrees, and what characteristics of these firms determine this susceptibility?
- On the legal instruments applied: Is the way in which the legal norms and incentives that are applied to the firms concerned are framed (in shorthand: closed rules or open standards) relevant, and does this differ between groups?
- Regarding the resultant policy design: If different groups of firms are susceptible to different legal incentives, is an effective policy mix taking account of crowding out possible, and what could this look like in a concrete example?
These questions will be addressed from a behavioural law and economics perspective. The focus of the research will not be on economic incentives per se. Rather it will look at the effect of legal norms and sanctions, and how they can be structured in order to achieve compliant behavior. This will be done whilst taking account of motivational and prosperity heterogeneity. Price functions as a signal, raising the question as to what may be the signalling functions of legal instruments such as rules, standards, and different types of civil and criminal sanctions or rewards. Where explicit pricing mechanisms are introduced, intrinsic motivation may be crowded out. At the same time, legal sanctions can act as economic (dis-)incentives. The methodology is that of experimental empirical research (lab experiments and vignette studies), supplemented by qualitative inputs (such as interviews). The intended factual context is that of the policies and initiatives regarding climate change and sustainability.Your duties
- Carrying out scientific research under supervision for a period of four years, culminating in a PhD degree in law and/or economics (according to your preference)
- Independent data collection, under supervision
- Analysing quantitative and (to a lesser extent) qualitative data
- Writing scientific publications towards a PhD thesis
- Presenting research findings for a scientific as well as a general audience
- Teaching (to a maximum of 10% of your hours).