Opening Event of "The Economics of Science" at ZEW


Researchers from many different fields attended the opening event of "The Economics of Science" on Thursday, May 31 and Friday, June 1 at the Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW) in Mannheim.

The meeting that is supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) within the framework of its scientific area programme "The Economics of Science" dealed with the economic aspects of research and teaching at universities and other research institutions. The focus hereby was for example on an efficient resource management, on strategies to make the most out of investments into human capital, or on how it would be possible to save the quality of science within an international competition and to manage universities economically. The opening event was organized in cooperation with the German Aerospace Centre (DLR). About 75 participants are expected to attend the lectures and discussion panels.

While in the English-speaking countries  the economics of science has already been established as an independent discipline, in Germany it is still in its beginnings. "For the scientific performance of Germany it is essential to build up research capacities and empirical fundaments to improve the efficiency of science in total. The scientific area programme "The Economics of Science”of the BMBF is able to make a significant contribution to this in the following years", says Friedhelm Pfeiffer, education economist at ZEW and scientific coordinator of the event.

During both days the researchers as well as the experts from the fields of politics and different research institutions were provided the opportunity to discuss current topics of the economics of science and get acquainted for the first time with the 21 projects funded by the BMBF. The projects dealed with the main topics "Governance Structures and Resource Allocation within Universities", "Career System and University", as well as "Labour Markets for University Graduates". The meeting should also help to interlink the individual projects within the scientific area programme of the BMBF.

Within his opening speech, Prof. Dr. Dieter Timmermann, Bielefeld University and President of the German National Association for Student Affairs (Deutsches Studentenwerk), introduced the participants of the meeting to the scientific area programme "The Economics of Science" of the BMBF. "It is important to establish the economics of science among other disciplines as for example the philosophy of science, and to make it visible for the public", said Timmermann on the aims of the event. Furthermore, he acknowledged the fundamental contributions of Prof. Paula Stephan of Georgia State University, Atlanta (USA), to the economic analysis of sciences, and he demanded more research on research. After that, Professor Stephan gave the inaugural lecture with the title "Economics of Science: Robust Findings, Open Questions and Lines for New Research". She especially focussed on the equipment of researchers and the costs thereby resulting for researchers and institutions. “Important questions for the economics of science are why and how research is done”, she said.

Prof. Dr. Berthold U. Wigger from the Karlruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) talked about the tax effects of the university funding. Furthermore, Prof. Dr. Robert Schwager from the University of Göttingen gave a lecture on the efficient organisation and the revenue of human capital investments. To conclude the event, Prof. Dr. Matthias Raith from the Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg took a look on universities as companies.

For further information on the Opening Event "The Economics of Science" please contact

PD Dr. Friedhelm Pfeiffer, Phone +49 621/1235-150, E-Mail

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