Main menu:Functions:
Chapter menu:
Page content:

Institutional and Behavioural Economics

The working group “Institutional and Behavioural Economics” analyses the interactions between resource users, the governance system and ecological peculiarities within complex social-ecological systems in the marine tropics, using empirical methods of qualitative case studies and experimental economics (natural, field and laboratory experiments). At the centre of attention are the questions of how formal and informal institutions affect decision-making of resource users who frequently face trade-offs between economic and ecological goals, how these institutions change and how they should be designed in order to reconcile ecological, social and economic sustainability.

Group Leader

Prof. Dr. Achim Schlüter
+49 (421) 23800 - 104

Institutions are central for understanding collective action and economic exchange. Following prominent scholars in this field, we understand institutions as human-made and widely shared rules that help people coordinating interactions with others, encompassing formal (written) rules, such as laws and policies, and informal ones, such as norms or customs. A main research focus of the IBE working group lies on the analysis of how institutions affect decision-making of resource users in coastal areas. What are appropriate property rights systems to ensure sustainable use? How should the extraction from environmental goods with characteristics of common-pool resources (e.g. fishing grounds) or public-goods be regulated? What are the potentials of community-based management schemes for the sustainable management of coastal areas? What drives institutional change in coastal areas? What kind of rules help to alleviate problems of overfishing or ocean pollution? These and related questions of policy relevance are addressed by the IBE working group.

Behavioural Economics

The theoretical point of origin in our work is the assumption that individuals have incomplete information about other people’s preferences, the full range of possible actions and the probabilities associated with each outcome resulting from an action. Moreover, individual decision-making is context specific, implying that a policy that works well in one society may not necessarily have the same behavioural consequences in another society where norms or customs are different. Having this in mind, the IBE working group analyses how resource users’ willingness to cooperate and other behavioural aspects relevant to joint resource management change, depending on ecological and institutional context factors.