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Behavioral economics and business ethics

The researchers of the Behavioral Economics and Business Ethics Research Unit make use of findings from the fields of ethics, economics and psychology to conduct an interdisciplinary analysis of human behaviour in a business context.

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Using experimental and other studies, behavioural economics helps to improve the decision-making architecture for economic policy. The measures proposed include changing default settings and other forms of green nudging to improve ecological sustainability.

The field of business and corporate ethics shows how conflicts can arise between entrepreneurial profit-seeking and the legitimate interests of society. However, our researchers also point out how constructive ways can be found to resolve such conflicts. Regulatory ethics, for example, shows how the state can intervene to provide an appropriate regulatory framework, business ethics points out how companies can assume voluntary responsibility and invest in trust and reputation, while personal ethics highlights how individuals themselves can behave in a more principled way.

Typical topics in business ethics are corruption, illicit employment, the shadow economy, corporate social responsibility, consumer protection, supply chain law and environmental protection. In addition, business ethics provides answers to the questions raised by post-growth theories and alternative measures of well-being such as life satisfaction. It also examines the importance of trust and social capital for the development of societies.

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Contact Persons

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Dominik H. Enste

Prof. Dr. Dominik H. Enste

Head of Behavioral Economics and Business Ethics Research Unit

Tel: +49 221 4981-730 @DominikEnste
Karishma Herbert

Karishma Herbert

Projektmanagerin at the IW Akademie

Tel: +49 221 4981-761
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Lena Suling

Lena Suling

Economic Research Consultant of the IW Akademie

Tel: +49 221 4981-816
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Julia Wildner

Julia Wildner

Economic Research Consultant of the IW Akademie

Tel: +49 221 4981-818
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Alle Beiträge

28 results
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Nudging green behavior
IW-Report No. 26 1. May 2023

Behavioral Economics in Companies: Nudging green behavior

Dominik Enste / Jennifer Potthoff

Climate change, the finite nature of natural resources, a growing world population and the quest for prosperity challenge society and policy to act responsibly and sustainably. The debate on climate change and the upcoming energy transition was recently intensified by the Ukrainian war.


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Behavioral economic measures for freedom-preserving energy conservation
IW-Policy Paper No. 2 20. February 2023

Does Nudging Help in the crisis?: Behavioral economic measures for freedom-preserving energy conservation

Dominik Enste / Julia Hensen / Jennifer Potthoff

In view of the impending gas shortage, private households are called upon to reduce their gas and energy consumption. The moral appeals of those in power harbor the danger that people will react with reactance instead of the desired change in behavior.


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4. May 4. May
Dominik Enste Event 4. May 2022

XI. Scientific Conference: The „Great Transformation”: New Rules of the Game?

Already before the Ukrainian War, Transformation seems to be everywhere. Almost 50 times it has been mentioned in the New „Ampel” Coalition Treaty of November 2021.


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Better regulation and green nudges for more sustainability
IW-Analyse No. 146 30. December 2021

Behavioral Economics and Climate Protection: Better regulation and green nudges for more sustainability

Dominik H. Enste / Jennifer Potthoff

Protecting the climate is one of the greatest challenges our society is currently facing. In view of the heated political and social discussions surrounding this topic, the question naturally arises as to whether behavioral-economic insights can be used to sensitize German society to the dangers of climate change and to motivate it towards more sustainability.


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Tripolar Challenges for the Social Market Economy
IW-Policy Paper No. 27 1. December 2021

Growth, Equity and Sustainability

Dominik Enste / Hans-Peter Klös

In the last two decades, a debate has unfolded around the relationship between growth and well-being that has produced numerous new concepts, indicators and sets of targets. This increasingly includes an emphasis on sustainability concepts.


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