Focus areas

The information below provides brief descriptions of the research focus areas of the Amsterdam Center for Law & Economics.

Competition & Regulation

Q: What is the optimal mix of regulation and competition-enhancing policies?

The focus area Competition & Regulation applies economic theory and empirical research to competitive processes with an eye to governing these processes through competition policy and regulation. Research builds on various strands of literature in both economics and law, including microeconomics and industrial organization, experimental economics, competition law and its enforcement history. Apart from the study of cartel behavior and novel forms of abuse of dominance, focus is on the mix of enforcement tools most effective in ensuring compliance.

Compliance & Enforcement

Q: Why do people obey the law and how can compliance be improved?

The focus area Compliance & Enforcement is dedicated to a fundamental question in the study of law and economics and social and behavioral
sciences: Why do people obey legal rules?  It seeks to theorize and empirically analyze factors that shape compliance with the law. It draws on and contributes to economic, sociological, criminological, and psychological theories about compliance motivations and conditions. It further studies how enforcement can be organized in such a way that it effectively, efficiently, accountably and equitably stimulates compliance. ACLE Compliance & Enforcement has a distinctive comparative approach, as it studies compliance and enforcement by comparing findings across legal and geographical domains.

Governance & Finance

Q: How should financial institutions and financial markets be regulated?

The focus area Governance & Finance actively promotes research that connects issues in corporate governance and the structure and regulation of the financial sector. This involves the internal operations and governance of financial institutions as well as financial regulation, including the role of external supervision. In economics, corporate governance builds on developments in corporate finance, accounting, industrial organization, and the economics of organizations (including the theory of the firm). Its primary bridge to the field of law is corporate law. This focus area also investigates the relation between financial systems and economic performance, the interplay between banks and financial markets, and the role of institutions and legal rules in promoting the growth and liquidity of capital markets.

Empirical legal studies

Q: How do legal institutions affect behavior?

The ACLE is actively pushing the boundary of the research by integrating empirical research into the theoretical framework developed in law & economics, using various sources of data: econometric studies of comparative variation, laboratory experiments, historical analysis, quantitative and qualitative interviews, and (participant) observation.
Valuable data is obtained by studying the evolution of institutions and regulations in a single environment subject to exogenous shocks, from the differences produced by the different impacts of the same historical shock on different environments, or by eliciting variation in micro behaviors in a controlled environment such as a laboratory or a field experiment. The ACLE actively promotes research using these different empirical methods in order to take advantage of the strengths of each of them.

Endogenous Institutions

Q: How do institutions arise and evolve?

The focus area Endogenous Institutions starts from the premise that legal and political institutions are not given at the outset but develop as society and the economy evolve. The interplay between social and cultural factors, economic outcomes, and institutional evolution is the central theme of research for this focus area. The three key questions
are: 1. What are the rent-seeking and efficiency-enhancing determinants of institutions? 2. How do institutions evolve over time? 3. What is the true effect on economic outcomes of different institutional settings?
Clearly, before tackling point 3, the deepest possible understanding of points 1 and 2 is needed in order to identify truly exogenous determinants of institutions—i.e., the forces shaping the choice of institutions in the past and contemporaneous economic outcomes—for instance, those determinants due to a change in technology. Such a program needs at the same time a careful historical analysis, a strong theoretical foundation, and advanced econometric techniques.

Published by  ACLE

31 January 2014