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Behavioral Economics and Business Ethics

Researchers in the competence field of behavioral economics and business ethics analyze the influence of values, norms, rules and laws (institutions).

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Its work is a response to the fact that psychological and institutional influences are still neglected by many economists, with a consequent weakening of the explanatory power of economic models. The IW scientists point to the basis of economic policy in political structures and link their work to behavioural economics, thus taking account of psychological and sociological factors. Additionally, the researchers make use of the insights of modern institutional economics, which focuses on the costs of contract negotiations and processes (transaction costs) and the importance of incentives for human behaviour. On the basis of these interdisciplinary theoretical approaches, our economists then develop analyses and practical policy recommendations relating particularly to the ethical dilemmas of companies and commerce.

Cooperation Partners

    • Technische Köln – Schmalenbach Institut für Wirtschaftswissenschaften
    • Universität zu Köln – Institut für Wirtschafts- und Sozialpsychologie
    • Universität Wien – Institut für Arbeits-, Organisations- und Wirtschaftspsychologie
    • Universität Linz – Institut für Volkswirtschaftslehre
    • Die Zukunft der Arbeit – Roman Herzog Institut
    • Max-Planck-Institut für Gesellschaftsforschung
    • Katholische Akademie in Berlin
    • Evangelische Akademie zu Berlin
    • Bund Katholischer Unternehmer
    • Arbeitskreis Evangelischer Unternehmer in Deutschland
    • Deutsches Netzwerk Wirtschaftsethik
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    Sections of the Research Unit

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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
    Karishma Herbert

    Karishma Herbert

    Projektmanagerin at the IW Akademie

    Tel: +49 221 4981-761
    View profile
    Lena Suling

    Lena Suling

    Economic Research Consultant of the IW Akademie

    Tel: +49 221 4981-816
    View profile
    Julia Wildner

    Julia Wildner

    Economic Research Consultant of the IW Akademie

    Tel: +49 221 4981-818
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    Studies and contributions

    18 results
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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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    How to Bridge the Gap Between Intentions and Behavior
    IW-Report No. 7 8. March 2021

    Behavioral Economics and Leadership: How to Bridge the Gap Between Intentions and Behavior

    Dominik Enste / Sarah-Nell Altenhöner

    The difference between existing intentions and actual behavior occurs in various forms, such as procrastination or companies not being able to implement planned changes, which may lead to competitive disadvantages in ever dynamic business environments.


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    Interpretations and Recommendations from Behavioral Economics
    IW-Analyse No. 141 21. January 2021

    The Seven Deadly Sins: Interpretations and Recommendations from Behavioral Economics

    Dominik H. Enste / Johanna Kary

    Envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride, sloth and wrath – the so-called seven deadly sins are widely known and even more widely committed. The terms describe seven motives and behavioral patterns which, despite being branded as vices, actually steer many people’s conduct in their daily lives.


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    How to Combine Business and Ethics
    IW-Report No. 1 1. January 2021

    Going Green with Behavioral Economics: How to Combine Business and Ethics

    Dominik Enste / Julia Wildner / Lucia Nafziger

    This paper calls for an increased discourse between Fridays for Future and representatives of business. Fridays for Future play a key role in educating the public and raising awareness of scientific reports, such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment, which demonstrate the urgency with which we must tackle climate change.


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    The Business Ethics of the Corona Crisis
    IW-Report No. 55 28. October 2020

    The Business Ethics of the Corona Crisis

    Dominik Enste / Jennifer Potthoff

    This research work is intended to analyze the economic consequences and ethical challenges that are caused by the coronavirus pandemic and to predict whether one can find a balance within the arising conflict of interest between economy, health and ethics. The solution strategies of Germany, Sweden and South Korea will be compared in order to evaluate different types of crisis management and to finally derive possible lessons from the crisis.


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    Causes and Consequences of Trust at the Individual Level
    IW-Report No. 51 16. October 2020

    Causes and consequences of trust at the individual level

    Dominik Enste / Lena Suling / Inga Schwarz

    Generalized trust in other people is especially important in times of crisis. If there is a lack of trust, more control and sanctions are necessary, which result in transaction costs. In addition, all people suffer from control measures, even if only a few show wrongdoings.


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    The Importance of Locus of Control for HR Policy
    IW-Analyse No. 135 13. February 2020

    The importance of locus of control for HR policy

    Dominik H. Enste / Louisa Marie Kürten / Lena Suling / Anja Katrin Orth

    Current developments at the workplace, such as digitalization, the demographic transition or the shift from a focus on shareholder value to a stakeholder approach, are bringing about rapid change.


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    17. Jan 17. Jan
    Dominik Enste Event 17. January 2019

    The Exhausted Globalization: Dwindling Growth, Rising Tensions

    Signs of crisis dominate current debates: Social cohesion is said to be dwindling, po-litical structures and multilateralism are eroding and the sustainability of economic conditions is questioned.