Research Areas

Personnel Economics

Within the broader field of personnel economics we pursue empirical projects on inividual wages, tournaments, human capital investments, and firm demography. We examine, for example, the relationship between social attitudes and the gender pay gap, or wage trajectories after job separations. Moreover, we analyze sales travel incentives in the insurance sector or the incentive effects of career ladders in the industrial sector. Other studies focus on the efficiency consequences of alternative governance modes for university research groups. Last, we investigate productivity effects of the workforce demography of firms and identify complementarities of old and young workers in different industries and firms.

Education Economics

Our research in the area of "Education economics" focuses on vocational education and dual apprenticeship training (VET) as a key element of the educational system in Switzerland and in the German-speaking countries. In our empirical research projects we examine, for example, productivity effects of apprenticeship training in firms, individual returns to alternative education paths, or causes and consequences of premature apprenticeship terminations. We also examine the development of non-cognitive (or character) skills during general education and apprenticeship training, and assess the influence of these non-cognitive skills on educational aspirations and labor market success. Furthermore, we study the role of occupations and occupational skill bundles for successful individual labor market transitions. Finally, we study the effect of gender compositions of school classes on the performance of girls in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM)-fields in higher secondary schools.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship

In the area of "Innovation and entrepreneurship" our research focuses on the role of human capital and particularly the role of the vocational education and training (VET) system for innovation on the national, the firm, and the individual level. One line of research studies the knowledge flows made available to firms by the training apprenticeship training system. In this context we also examine the relevance of the VET system and other institutions and legal regulations for the Swiss innovation system. In our research on innovations in higher education, we identify mechanisms for increasing success rates of massive open online courses (MOOCs). Finally, in our research on entrepreneurship, we analyze incentive and selection effects for the willingness to become an entrepreneur.

Current Research Projects: