Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods

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Anja Schäfer
Personal Assistant

Kurt-Schumacher-Str. 10
53113 Bonn

Initially founded as a Max Planck Institute that investigates the provision of collective goods, the ­Institute has developed into an international hub that focuses in its research mainly on applied economics and on behavioural law. The Institute hosts a number of research groups of which one is linked to Max Planck Law, namely ‘Research Group Christoph Engel’ focusing on ‘Behavioural Law and Economics’.

Whatever the law achieves, it must do so by affecting the behaviour of its subjects. This is why a behavioural perspective is fundamental to legal research. If the intervention targets behaviour, the social problem that calls for intervention must be defined in behavioural terms as well. Why do individuals or organizations fail to coordinate? When and why do individuals create harm for others, unless guided or hindered by law? Or, in other words: Which is a behaviourally plausible definition of a collective-goods problem? How are those who create new legal rules, or those obliged to apply them, affected by behavioural effects?

Research Areas

Behavioural Law and Economics

A behaviourally sound construction of a social problem is essential for the proper design of legal institutions. This design is often particularly challenging, since different groups of people behave in systematically different ways. Research undertaken by the Research Group Christoph Engel combines doctrine, comparative law, and legal and economic theory with empirics. Much empirical work is experimental, but the group is also increasingly using datasets generated by the judiciary and administration.


Research Highlights

Joining the Institute

There is the possibility to apply for resesarch fellowships at the Institute. There is also the possibility to apply for doctoral fellowships in economics and Law with the International Max Planck Research School on Behaviorally Smart Institutions (IMPRS BeSmart) and the Cologne Graduate School of Economics (CGS-E).

For further information, please visit the Institute’s website: