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Workshops and seminars


  • December 20, 2018:
    Casper Albers (UG)
    Title: Statistical Modelling of Energy Behaviour
    Abstract: Reducing energy consumption is vital for mitigating climate change. In order to change behaviour, we need to understand what drives energy behaviour, including
    adoption of energy efficient appliances and changes in daily energy use behaviour. It is particularly important to identify general motivational factors that affect many different energy behaviours and enhance support for energy policy in countries across the world. I will show that psychological network theory, an adaptation of the theory of graphical gaussian models, is useful for understanding relationships between general motivational factors, household energy behaviour and support for diverse energy policy across and within countries. Several of our studies are based on Round 8 of the European Social Survey, with 34,873 participants from 18 countries, showing that energy-related motivations and behaviour, and their relation, differ per country; therefore, so should successful policy to tackle climate change. Also within countries, network models can be useful. I will demonstrate this using a data set from the Netherlands, showing how neighbourhood initiatives can increase motivation and adapt behaviour to reduce energy consumption.

Previous seminars

  • May 15, 2018:
    Greer Gosnell (London School of Economics and Political Science)
    Title: The Impact of Managerial Practices on Employee Productivity: A Field Experiment with Airline Captains
    Abstract: Increasing evidence indicates the importance of management in determining firms’ productivity. Yet, causal evidence regarding the effectiveness of managerial practices is scarce. In an eight-month field experiment measuring the productivity of captains in the commercial aviation sector, we test four distinct managerial practices: (i) performance monitoring; (ii) performance feedback; (iii) target setting; and (iv) prosocial incentives. We find that these managerial practices—particularly performance monitoring and target setting—significantly increase captains’ productivity with respect to the targeted fuel-saving dimensions. We identify positive spillovers of the tested managerial practices on job satisfaction and carbon dioxide emissions, and captains overwhelmingly express desire for deeper managerial engagement.
  • April 26, 2018:
    Amir Grinstein (Northeastern University & Free University Amsterdam)
    Title: The Socially Responsible Marketing Manager

    Abstract: A growing, important business trend is for firms to engage in socially responsible practices. Meanwhile, the role of the marketing function and marketing managers, and their contribution to firms, are attracting attention in the marketing discipline. Interestingly however, the trend of social responsibility has not been integrated into the latter stream; thus we do not know much about the value from having a socially responsible marketing manager. Using legitimacy theory as a theoretical framework, this research investigates the concept of a socially responsible marketing manager, and tests its impact on marketing functions’ performance (a form of external legitimacy) and influence within the firm (a form of internal legitimacy). Based on multiple empirical efforts (interviews, secondary data analysis, a survey, an experiment), we find that, while socially responsible marketing managers are still far from mainstream, such managers positively contribute to marketing functions’ performance and influence within the firm. Additionally, this impact is moderated by two legitimacy-related factors: It is enhanced when customers are more interested in social responsibility and weakened when the marketing manager is more experienced.

  • March 29, 2018:
    Antonio Penta (UPF and Barcelona GSE)
    Title: Rationality and Observability
    Abstract: We study the strategic impact of players’ higher order uncertainty over whether their actions are observable to their opponent. We characterize the ‘robust predictions’ of Rationality and Common Belief in Rationality (RCBR), i.e. those which do not depend on the restrictions on players’ infinite order beliefs over the extensive form (that is, the observability of actions). We show that RCBR is generically unique, and that the robust predictions often support a robust refinement of rationalizability. For instance, in unanimity games, the robust predictions of RCBR rule out any inefficient equilibrium action; in zero-sum games, they support the maxmin solution, resolving a classical tension between RCBR and the maxmin logic; in common interest games, RCBR generically ensures efficient coordination of behavior, thereby showing that higher order uncertainty over the extensive form serves as a mechanism for equilibrium coordination on purely educative grounds. We also characterize the robust predictions in settings with asynchronous moves, but in which the second mover does not necessarily observe the first mover’s action. In these settings, higher order uncertainty over the observability of the earlier choice yields particularly sharp results: in ‘Nash-commitment games’, for instance, RCBR generically selects the equilibrium of the static game which is most favorable to the earlier mover. This means that a first-mover advantage arises whenever higher-order beliefs do not rule out that it might exist. Hence, in the presence of extensive form uncertainty, timing alone may determine the attribution of the strategic advantage, independent of the actual observability of choices.
  • March 22, 2018:
    Joel van der Weele (University of Amsterdam)
    Title: Denial and Alarmism in Collective Action Problems
    Abstract: We analyze communication about the social returns to investment in a public good. We model two agents who have private information about these returns as well as their own taste for cooperation, or social preferences. Before deciding to contribute or not, each agent submits an unverifiable report about the returns to the other agent. We show that even if the public good benefits both agents, there are incentives to misrepresent information. First, others' willingness to cooperate generates an incentive for "alarmism'', the exaggeration of social returns in order to opportunistically induce more investment. Second, if people want to be perceived as caring for overall welfare, a justification motive arises for low contributors. As a result, equilibrium communication features “denial”  about the returns, depressing contributions. We illustrate the model in the context of institutional inertia and the climate change debate. We test our theory in a laboratory experiment, and find evidence that image concerns lead to underreporting of efficiency in a charitable giving context.
  • November 2, 2017:
    Tim Kurz (University of Bath)
    Title: The Interpersonal Dynamics of Climate Change Morality
    Abstract: Human-induced global climatic change has been cast in recent decades by various politicians, scientists and environmental activists as ‘the greatest moral challenge of our time’. Putting aside momentarily the voices that seek to question the scientific evidence for its existence, climate change can certainly be theoretically conceptualised as a quintessential example of the type of moral dilemma encapsulated by Hardin’s famous (1968) Tragedy of the Commons. However, just because the climate change issue (and its myriad behavioural and political dimensions) can be conceptualised in moral terms does not mean it will routinely manifest as such within social and political life. I will discuss in this seminar a program of experimental research in which we explored the ways in which morality around environmental issues might play out at the level of interpersonal interaction. In particular, I consider how acts of interpersonal confrontation are currently perceived in the environmental domain in comparison to other domains such as racial equality. I will suggest that issues such as climate change have not (yet) obtained a moral status that culturally licenses the overriding of norms of conversational politeness to confront those who display environmental disregard. I will also consider the potential forces that might shape the social construction of morality around an issue and the potential implications this might have for public policy. Time permitting, I will conclude by inviting some more critical theoretical reflections upon the utility (at a societal level) of interpersonal activism in the context of environmentally-relevant practices.
  • May 18, 2017:
    John Thøgersen (Aarhus University)
    Title: Will the consistent organic food consumer step forward? The use of scanner data for analysing the dynamics of consumption, and for dynamic segmentation.
    Abstract: The organic food market has reached a significant value in developed countries, but market shares vary substantively between product categories. This article investigates general patterns in the sequence of adoption of organic products based on a major Danish retailer’s panel scanner data. All registered transactions over 20 months from 8,704 randomly selected customers with a loyalty card are analyzed using a hidden Markov model, capturing the dynamics in consumers’ purchases. The model identifies latent states representing identifiable, accessible, and actionable dynamic customer segments, and captures the movements between states or segments. A pattern emerges that is consistent with the theory of behavioral spillover and inconsistent with the theory of moral licensing, including a tendency to buy organic products in an increasing number of product categories over time. The order in which organic products are adopted is inversely related to the behavioral costs of adopting them. The employed approach provides a firm basis for personalized communication aiming to increase cross-selling of organic products, increase the sale of less popular organic products, and accelerate movements from segments buying few organic products to segments buying organic more consistently.
  • March 16, 2017:
    Ina Taneva (University of Edinburgh)
    Title: On Information Design in Games
    Abstract: Information disclosure in games influences behavior by affecting the players' beliefs about the state, as well as their higher-order beliefs. We first characterize the extent to which a designer can manipulate players' beliefs by disclosing information. Building on this, our next results show that all optimal solutions to information design problems are made of an optimal private and of an optimal public component, where the latter comes from concavification. This representation subsumes Kamenica and Gentzkow (2011)'s single-agent result. In environments where the Revelation Principle fails, we demonstrate in an example that direct manipulation of players' beliefs is indispensable and our results are used to compute the optimal solution. In a second example, we illustrate how the private-public decomposition leads to a particularly simple and intuitive resolution of the problem.
  • Februari 28, 2017:
    Sandro Ambuehl (UTSC Department of Management & Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto)
    Title: An offer you can’t refuse? Incentives change what we believe
    Abstract: Much of economics assumes that higher incentives increase participation in a transaction only because they exceed more people’s reservation price. This paper shows theoretically and experimentally that when information about the consequences is costly, higher incentives also change reservation prices to further increase participation. A higher incentive makes people gather information in a way that is more favorable to participation—as if they were persuading themselves to participate. Hence, incentives change not only what people choose, but also what they believe their choices entail. This result informs the debate about laws around the world that severely restrict incentives for transactions such as organ donation, surrogate motherhood, human egg donation, and medical trial participation. It helps bridge a gap between economists on the one hand and the policy makers and ethicists on the other.
Last modified:02 July 2019 3.20 p.m.