Vincent Buskens holds the joint designated chair Sociology and Institutions with Wojtek Przepiorka and is the coordinator of the Institutions for Cooperation, Self-regulation and Collective Action pillar within the ‘Institutions’ strategic theme. Furthermore, he is Professor of Theoretical Sociology at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences. His most prominent research encompasses the various forms of cooperation within our society. In addition, on a more specific level, he conducts research into the influence of social networks on cooperation. Some networks facilitate cooperation better than others. Buskens aims to explain what exactly makes one network more suitable than another.
"Complementary research methods are necessary for a proper understanding of cooperation mechanisms"
In attempting to work out the explanations for cooperation problems, he uses two complementary methods: laboratory research and field research. In the sterile environment of the laboratory, he frequently has students participate in computer experiments. In a specially designed program, participants can enter into a fictitious cooperation with one of the other test subjects in a way that benefits both parties. However, when trust in the other test subject is lacking, both parties can opt to pursue their own individual interests, thereby abandoning the cooperation. The lab experiment sheds light on how this cooperative process comes about and which inhibiting and stimulating factors form the foundation for it. Buskens also performs field research - for instance at companies - by using surveys, he examines whether the mechanisms discovered in the laboratory also work in the field.