The chair in Theoretical Microeconomics focuses its research and education on the interpretation and assessment of the allocation of scarce goods in economies that utilise various allocation mechanisms, such as the price mechanism, power and social norms. Allocation takes place in markets and in proftit and non-profit organizations, where these allocation mechanisms function and interfere in different ways.

The chair in Theoretical Microeconomics takes a multidisciplinary economic approach to the allocation issue by focusing on the issue as a relevant economic problem, applying advanced microeconomic methods and, at the same time, exploring how other disciplines such as sociology, psychology, geography or law can contribute to solving allocation problems.

The key issues in the Chair’s multidisciplinary microeconomic research are cooperation and trust between economic agents on markets and in organizations. The research emphasizes the network economy and the trust economy. Theories using microeconomic theory in general and game theory in particular are developed. Special attention is paid to institutions that lead to cooperation and trust. The theories are frequently tested by means of laboratory experiments.

For cooperation between more than two parties, the chair studies the formation of networks, such as innovative companies’ networks, or social networks through which economic agents exchange information. It also examines how trust and cooperation are created within these networks, and how cooperation and trust influence the structure of networks. When parties collaborate, once-only or repeated interactions are studied in order to determine how communication and different incentives lead to trust and cooperation between the parties, and how this depends on institutions.

Its multidisciplinary economic approach allows the chair in Theoretical Microeconomics to participate in a number of multidisciplinary research programmes, both within and outside Utrecht University, such as:

  • Origins and Impact of Institutions focus area (Utrecht University); 
  • Coordinating Societal Change focus area (Utrecht University); 
  • Dynamics of Cooperation, Networks and Institutions (HighPotential Programme, Utrecht University); 
  • Business Demography, Innovation and Enterprise (University of Antwerp); 
  • Economics Network for Competition and Regulation (ENCORE); 
  • Centre of Economic Policy Research (CEPR), London.

Chair members