Faculty of Management, Economics and Society

    Chair of Institutional Economics and Health Policy

    Chair Professor Dr. Dirk Sauerland and his team.
    Chair Professor Dr. Dirk Sauerland and his team.


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    At the Chair of Institutional Economics and Health Policy we analyze from an economic perspective the effect of regulatory systems on human behaviour, for example of social market economy rules, and develop proposals for developing such control systems further. We use this general institutional research approach in the health policy field in order to empirically examine the effects of health policy measures; for example the effects on the labour market if the government supports home care provided by relatives.

    Profile and Affiliation

    The Chair of Institutional Economics and Health Policy belongs to the Economics chairs of the faculty. The field of Institutional Economics is part of the Witten Institute for Institutional Change (WIWA). In the field of Health Policy the chair is an integral part of the cross-faculty Dr. Hartmut-Krafft Centre for Economics and Health. The chair is also member of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Health Service Research (IZVF) of Witten/Herdecke University.

    Institutional Economics

    The basis of the work at the chair is modern Institutional Economics (IE), also called “new institutional economics”.

    IE analyzes diverse kinds of collective rules (i.e. institutions in the economic context), their effect on human behaviour and the repercussions of human behaviour on the development and change of such rules. Following the economic approach of explaining human behaviour, IE analyzes a type of action-relevant restrictions not being considered in the traditional neoclassical world of economic models. We therefore distinguish between formal institutions such as laws and contracts and informal institutions, such as morals, manners and customs. IE thus enlarges the application range of economic analyses.

    The principal and agent theory and transaction cost theory are well-known theoretical elements of IE. While the principal and agent theory deals with problems that may arise from a contractual relationship between a client and a contractor, transition cost economics examines the costs incurred by the finalization of transactions via markets or within enterprises. By designing appropriate institutions potential problems of such relationships may be reduced. As a result, the co-operation between the participating parties may be beneficial to both sides.

    Renowned representatives of modern institutional economics, like Ronald H. Coase, Oliver E. Williamson, Elinor Ostrom, Oliver Hart, Douglass C. North, George Akerlof or James M. Buchanan, were awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences  in recent years.

    Health Policy

    It is the task of health policy – following the tradition of regulatory policy – to set the rules for health care system stakeholders in such a way that the population is provided with the best possible medical and nursing care. We therefore examine the incentive systems of the stakeholders in health care, in particular of service providers and cost bearers, from the institutional perspective. This concerns, for example, the incentive effects of flat-fee remuneration systems such as DRGs in the hospital sector. Based on the findings, we aim at pointing out potential improvements for the health policy.

    From the health care research perspective, all this is complemented by empirical analyses of health policy measures, the direct effects of these measures on the nursing care situation and their side effects on other economic fields. The public support of home care provided by relatives, for example, has an effect on the nursing care of dependent persons. However, it also affects the family carers themselves and may have side effects on the job market if increased home care reduces the labour supply.

    It is the aim of the Chair to impart a deeper understanding for the functioning of institutions in different areas of politics and economics. In addition, we would like to raise the students’ interest for an intensive theoretical and empirical addressing of relevant research issues in economics.

    We offer courses and seminars as part of the “Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE)” and “Management” Bachelor programmes and of the “Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE)” Master programme.

    Our teaching is interactive and with strong practical relevance to actual issues or applications. Within the context of the elective modules we regularly invite experts from the business community to participate in the classes or visit them at their workplace during excursions, for example to the ‘Bundesbank’ (central bank of the Federal Republic of Germany).

    Professor Sauerland is responsible for the “Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE)” Bachelor programme.

    Teaching – Bachelor programmes
    Teaching – Master programme

    The results of our research activities are regularly presented at international conferences and published in renowned journals.

    Current research topics of the Chair:
    Abgeschlossene Forschungsprojekte und dazugehörige Veröffentlichungen (Auswahl)

    The Chair offers postgraduates the opportunity to apply for external doctoral studies if they meet the qualification requirements according to the doctoral degree regulations of the Faculty of Management, Economics and Society.

    In order to be accepted as doctoral candidate at the Chair, applicants have to compile a synopsis on the research work planned. This synopsis shall illustrate the theoretical basis and – if intended – the empirical methodology.

    Selected doctoral and postdoctoral projects
    Former doctoral candidates

    Associated honorary and visiting professors

    • Dr. Thomas Mayer, Honorary Professor

    Die Universität Witten/Herdecke ist durch das NRW-Wissenschaftsministerium unbefristet staatlich anerkannt und wird – sowohl als Institution wie auch für ihre einzelnen Studiengänge – regelmäßig akkreditiert durch: