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This is an overview of current and previous EU funded projects at ESMT Berlin.

Grant projects at ESMT Berlin

  • European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant: Digital platforms: Pricing, variety and quality provision

    Digital platforms: Pricing, variety and quality provision

    Funding type: European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant
    Funding period:  2020-2025
    Research team: Özlem Bedre-Defolie (ESMT Berlin), Atara Oliver (ESMT Berlin)

    Digital platforms, such as Amazon, Alibaba, Google, have become important global players. Their practices have led to significant anti-trust and regulatory scrutiny, and interventions. The existing theoretical models are not suited for the analysis of most of digital platforms as they fail to capture their important aspects and dynamics. This project’s first goal is to develop tractable and applicable models of markets with digital platforms capturing their unique features. The second goal is to investigate the implications of digital platforms’ business practices on prices, variety and quality provision to buyers, on small rivals, and on potential platform entry. The findings of this project will highlight potential distortions in these multi-billion markets and ultimately suggest effective policy recommendations for competition policy in digital markets, which can greatly improve consumer welfare in the EU.

    More detailed information can be found on the official project website.

  • European Commission H2020: EQUAL4EUROPE: Gender equality standards for AHMSSBL institutions throughout Europe

    EQUAL4EUROPE: Gender equality standards for AHMSSBL institutions throughout Europe

    Funding type: Horizon 2020 Framework Programme
    Funding period: 2020-2023
    Research team at ESMT: Monica Perez (ESMT Berlin), Friederike  Kreßner (ESMT Berlin)

    Cooperating institutions and partners: ESADE (coordinator), Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam, Comenius University Bratislava, IEDC Bled School of Management, ESMT Berlin, INSEAD, EFMD, PNO Consultants
    The EQUAL4EUROPE project, comprising eight research institutions and accreditation organizations, aims at removing barriers to the recruitment, retention, and career progression of female researchers. Within the four-year project, which is divided into eight parts, ESMT will focus on the identification and evaluation of gender issues.

    Women in the EU still account for only 33 percent of overall and 24 percent of top-level (grade A) researchers according to EU statistics. In order to bring about sustainable cultural and institutional change, the research institutions will develop and implement evidence-based gender equality plans as well as establish best practices and recommendations for others. In addition, the accreditation organizations plan to include the project results into their international standards.

    More detailed information can be found on the official project website.



  • European Research Council (ERC) ERC Starting Grant: Behavioral theory and economic applications

    Behavioral theory and economic applications

    Funding type: European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant
    Funding period: 2012-2017
    Research team: Botond Kőszegi (Principal Investigator), Paul Heidhues (ESMT Berlin)
    Cooperating institution: Kozep-Europai Egyetem (CEU), Budapest

    The European Research Council (ERC) has bestowed a team of researchers including ESMT Professor and Lufthansa Chair in Competition and Regulation Paul Heidhues a starting grant for five years. The team, led by Professor Botond Köszegi of Central European University and Berkeley, will research “Behavioral theory and economic applications.” In particular, Professor Heidhues will explore the implications for market outcomes, welfare, and policy when consumers misperceive certain aspects of products or contracts. Established by the European Commission, the ERC encourages the highest quality research in Europe through competitive funding and supports frontier research across all fields on the basis of scientific excellence. In this year’s Starting Grant competition, the ERC received 4741 applications, from which only 11.3 percent early-career top researchers have been granted funding for their research projects.


    Heidhues, P., and B. Kőszegi (Forthcoming). Naivete-based discrimination. Quarterly Journal of Economics.
    Heidhues, P., B. Kőszegi, and T. Murooka (2017). Inferior products and profitable deception. Review  of  Economic  Studies 84(1): 323–356.
    Heidhues, P., B. Kőszegi and T. Murooka (2016). Exploitative Innovation. American Economic Journal: Microeconomics 8(1): 1-23.
    Heidhues, P., and B. Kőszegi (2014). Regular prices and sales. Theoretical Economics 9(1): 217–2

  • European Union FP7 ITN: CONsumer COmpetence Reasearch Training (CONCORT)

    Consumer Competence Research Training (CONCORT)

    Funding type: Marie Curie Initial Training Network (ITN) (EU Seventh Framework Programme)
    Funding period: 2011-2015
    Research team: Francine Espinoza Petersen (ESMT Berlin), Ning Chen, Cara de Boer
    Cooperating institutions: Academic partners: Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Utrecht University, INSEAD, London Business School
    Corporate partners: Tobii, VicarVision, Philips

    Consumer science is touching the lives of 493 million EU consumers with their consumption representing 58% of the EU GDP, yet the insights of consumer research typically fail to have a substantial impact on consumer welfare. Consumer research is scattered across several disciplines in the social sciences with little communication occurring between research and practice.

    The CONsumer Competence Research Training (CONCORT) tackles these issues, abandoning the marketing perspective of the persuasive agent trying to affect consumer decisions, and aiming to pioneer research from the consumer perspective. The project partners study consumer competence, a broad set of abilities, intuitions, knowledge and skills consumers need in order to make decisions that help them navigate successfully in the economic environment.

    The aim of the CONCORT project is to train 14 Early Stage Researchers in this new perspective, in 8 high level partners: three business schools, two broad universities, and three corporate partners. ESMT supervises two Early Stage Researchers (ESRs), who are funded by the CONCORT grant.

    CONCORT adds an optimal blend between traditional training methods, innovative learning instruments, and thorough practice training through industrial secondments. The Early Stage Researchers will be trained to see the link between their theoretical training and thematic areas of real life consumer interest (environment, overspending, food choice, etc.).

    The 4-year project commenced in December 2011 and was funded with an overall maximum European Union contribution of approximately €3,760,000 for the training network.



  • European Union FP7 IEF: Researching Consumer Perceived Ethicality (CPE) of Companies and Brands

    Researching Consumer Perceived Ethicality (CPE) of Companies and Brands

    Funding type: Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship (IEF) (EU Seventh Framework Program)
    Funding period: 2012-2014
    Research team: CB Bhattacharya (ESMT Berlin), Katja H. Brunk

    Issues such as corporate social responsibility (CSR) and business ethics have increasingly taken center stage in today’s society. While researchers agree that consumers react negatively/positively to companies they perceive as un/ethical, the actual question of what evokes such a negative or positive perception has not been investigated. To this day, little is known about how moral equity is generated and emerges in the consumer’s mind. This research shall redress this research imbalance. In order to better understand the link between un/ethical corporate conduct and consumer responses, the question of how ethical perceptions are formed and affected by corporate behavior is of utmost importance.

    This research hoped to facilitate much-needed theory-building and deeper insight into consumer reactions to corporate ethics, CSR, or corporate reputation efforts. Any subsequent research investigating notions of company and brand misconduct, scandal spillover effects, or, more generally, any facets of ethical consumption will benefit from this conceptualization.

    The host institution (ESMT) was one of the very first schools in Germany to introduce a chair in Corporate Social Responsibility (held by the scientist in charge) and is therefore an ideal fit with the applicant’s work. With links to Social Science, specifically Social Psychology, the project is multi-disciplinary by nature. In addition to the acquisition of new conceptual knowledge, the project promises to considerably expand the applicant’s methodological and analytical skillset.

    The 2-year project commenced in May 2012 and was funded with an overall maximum European Union contribution of approximately €200,000 to finance an Intra-European Fellowship position, which aims to help experienced researchers enhance their careers.


    Katja H. Brunk (2012), “What is ‘ethical’? Conceptualizing consumer meanings”, Proceedings of the 41st Annual Conference of the European Marketing Academy (EMAC).
    Katja H. Brunk (2013), “Un/ethical Company and Brand Perceptions: Conceptualising and Operationalising Consumer Meanings”, Journal of Business Ethics, DOI 10.1007/s10551-012-1339-x.
    Katja H. Brunk (2013),“A second look at the ethical product – A conceptual extension of the ethical product matrix”, Proceedings of the 42nd Annual Conference of the European Marketing Academy
    Katja H. Brunk (2013), “Consumer Perceived Ethicality of a Brand/Company (CPE)”, PsychTESTS, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI 10.1037/t15261-000.

  • Research Grant: Diagnostic accuracy under accumulated pressure

    Diagnostic accuracy under accumulated pressure

    Grant type: Research grant
    Funding period:  Expected 2022-2024 (24 months)
    Research team: Francis de Véricourt, (ESMT Berlin), Mirko Kremer, (Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, Frankfurt)

    This project aims at understanding how time pressure in the form of congestion and task accumulation affects the accuracy and cost of diagnostic decisions.  

    The management of diagnostic processes requires decision makers (DM) to dynamically balance the benefit of acquiring more diagnostic information against the cost of doing so. Besides medical diagnostic tasks (Ramdas et al. 2020), many important decisions correspond to this type of problem including decisions on research project management (McCardle et al. 2017) or the quality assessment of remanufacturing goods (Guide and Wassenhove 2001). Diagnostic and search problems such as these, however, are subject to high levels of congestion and delays (Alizamir et al. 2013, 2019, de Véricourt and Zhou 2005, Loch and Terwiesch 1999, Girota et al. 2007). Yet, little is known about the effect of this prevalent form of time pressure on the behavior of decision-makers and the overall performance of diagnostic processes. 

    Our goal is to advance the behavioral operations literature by filling this gap. Specifically, we aim to 1) uncover cognitive biases associated with running diagnostic processes under congestion, 2) measure their effects on the resulting diagnostic accuracy and cost, and 3) propose possible avenues to mitigate these biases. To tease out the most fundamental effects of congestion on diagnostic tasks, we study these issues in a series of controlled experiments. 

  • Research Grant: The use of Markush structures in pharmaceutical patenting and their effect on R&D competition in drug development

    The use of Markush structures in pharmaceutical patenting and their effect on R&D competition in drug development

    Grant type: Research grant
    Funding period: 2021-2023
    Research team: Stefan Wagner (ESMT Berlin)

    Markush structures are molecular skeletons that contain not only specific atoms but also include several placeholders which represent a set of broad set of chemical (sub)structures. They are used by pharmaceutical companies to claim a large class of compounds without the necessity of writing out every fully defined single chemical entity in a patent application. For instance, it has been estimated that the Markush structures claimed within a single patent underlying a blockbuster drug (the European patent EP 0810 209 protects the HIV drug “Prezista”) contain a total of 7*10^13 different compounds. While advantageous for pharmaceutical companies, the use of Markush structures in patent claims has sparked controversial debates amongst policy makers and practitioners.

    First, Markush structures pose considerable challenges for patent prosecution. Patent offices have voiced that claims involving Markush structures covering many compounds require a disproportionate amount of examiner time and patent office resources compared to simpler claims involving a single molecule.

    Second, Markush structures create significant uncertainties surrounding patent enforcement. Most importantly, the question to what extent patents based on Markush claims effectively protect all molecules contained in the structure is contentious. It is not clear whether the disclosure of a broad Markush structure is novelty destroying for subsequent selection patents claiming a molecule belonging to the initial Markush claim.

    Third, it has been questioned whether pharmaceutical companies strategically use Markush structures to obtain overbroad patents to block follow-on R&D by competitors. Such behavior might effectively slow down the pace of innovation and thus reduce overall welfare as incumbents’ market power likely increases and the availability of novels drugs might be reduced due to reduced entry. Against this backdrop, it is surprising that no quantitative evidence exists regarding the prevalence of Markush structures in pharmaceutical patenting and their effect on subsequent innovation activity.

    This project intends to fill this gap in the literature regarding the strategic use of Markush structures by empirically addressing the following research questions: Q1 – to what extent are Markush structures used in patenting activities, by whom, and in what therapeutic fields? Q2 – what is the effect of Markush patents on product market competition within given therapeutic indications, namely, the set of drugs that seek to address the same disease? Do Markush patents slow down the entry of substitutes and slow down horizontal competition? Q3 – what is the effect of Markush patents on follow-on innovation? Do Markush structures slow down the introduction of next-generation drugs?

  • Collaborative Research Center: TRR 266 Accounting for Transparency

    Accounting for Transparency

    Grant type: DFG Collaborative Research Center / Sonderforschungsbereich-Transregio
    Funding period: 2019-2023
    Research team: Per Olsson, (ESMT Berlin)
    Cooperating institutions: Humboldt University Berlin, University of Mannheim, Paderborn University (project leads), LMU Munich, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management and Goethe University Frankfurt
    Sub-project title: B05: Transparency and the Equity Market

    The TRR 266 Accounting for Transparency is a trans-regional Collaborative Research Center funded by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft – DFG). The team of more than 80 researchers – from Paderborn University, HU Berlin, University of Manneim, LMU Munich, ESMT Berlin, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, Goethe University Frankfurt, and WHU - Otto Beiheim School of Management – examines how accounting and taxation affect firm and regulatory transparency and how regulation and transparency impact the economy and society. They intend to help develop effective regulation for firm transparency and a transparent tax system.

    The relevance of these topics has increased since the global financial crisis of 2007 and the resulting demands for greater transparency. Calls for increased transparency are omnipresent, particularly after the recent series of financial crises and public outrage about specific multinational firms that do not pay their fair share of taxes. The Collaborative Research Center TRR 266 Accounting for Transparency intends to help develop effective regulation for firm transparency and a transparent tax system. To this end, the Center's research aims to make an important contribution to increase trust in business and politics. To answer the research questions the researchers will account for the interaction of competing incentives from different areas (managerial accounting, financial accounting and taxation) and conduct the research collaboratively within a team of researchers with diverse areas of expertise.

    The sub-project Transparency and the Equity Market by Per Olsson (ESMT Berlin) and Sönke Sievers (Paderborn University) reinvestigates how financial reporting transparency can be measured in the equity market. This sub-project teams up with four other sub-projects in constructing an extensive dataset describing the financial reporting behavior of publicly listed firms. Using these data and exploiting market reactions around exogenous macro news events, it will identify financial reporting components that are theoretically and empirically connected to equity capital market outcomes. Based on these insights, it will revisit prior evidence on the capital markets effects of financial reporting information and explore whether refined measures of financial reporting transparency can help to improve company valuation.

    More information is available on the official website of the Collaborative Research Center and the TRR 266 YouTube Channel.



  • Research Grant: The social process of innovation

    The social process of innovation: The role of novelty and social cues in idea evaluation

    Grant type: Research grant
    Funding period: 2018-2021
    Research team: Linus Dahlander (ESMT Berlin), Arne Thomas (ESMT Berlin)

    This research project seeks to push the study of innovation. We look to advance the understanding of an important, yet understudied, phase of the innovation process: the evaluation of ideas proposed for innovation. To understand why some ideas gain support while others do not, we will focus on (1) the role of idea novelty and (2) the role of social cues in the idea evaluation process. As we intend to provide causal evidence on how managers evaluate ideas, we will conduct two field experiments within two organizations where employees generate ideas for innovation and senior managers evaluate them and decide on their implementation.

    Our research project will combine qualitative and quantitative methods and will proceed in three steps. The first step is a qualitative pre-study within the two organizations in which we will conduct the field experiments. We conduct the pre-study to gain a better contextual understanding of the companies’ innovation processes, and it will help us to design effective and appropriate experimental interventions. In the second step, we will collect the employees’ ideas and measure their novelty by topic modeling; a text-analytic method stemming from computer science that can be used to measure idea novelty based on the actual text describing an idea. In the third step, we will conduct the field experiments that analyze the role of novelty and social cues in the idea evaluation process. To do so, we will experimentally vary the conditions under which managers evaluate the proposed ideas.

    While evaluating and selecting ideas has become a key aspect of successful innovation, research on the idea evaluation process is still developing and far from complete. With the proposed research we seek to advance the literature on three accounts. First, the field experimental research design enables us to provide causal evidence on the effect of idea novelty and social cues on idea evaluation. Most of prior research has presented evidence based on correlations and has thus fallen short of this “gold standard.” Second, we make an important methodological contribution by measuring idea novelty based on the actual text describing an idea. Earlier research has largely relied on measures of combinatorial novelty using pre-established schemata, such as patent classes. In contrast, we will employ topic modeling to derive a content-based novelty measure. Third, we advance innovation research by studying the impact of social relationships and content in parallel. Whereas network research on innovation has been criticized for lacking consideration for content, and content studies have been disconnected from social structure, we seek to integrate social relations and content.

    The project will advance theory on idea novelty and social cues, and it will push the research frontier by combining methods from computer science with field experimental designs enabling causal inference.



  • SiDiFo - Begleitforschung zum Innovationswettbewerb "Sichere Digitale Identitäten"

    Sichere Digitale Identitäten

    Funding type: Scientific support, networking, and transfer of results for the Secure Digital Identities Showcase innovation competition of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi)Funding period: 2021-2024
    Team at ESMT: Martin Schallbruch (DSI)
    Cooperating institutions: Ernst & Young GmbH Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaft, Nimbus Technologieberatung GmbH

    Die Begleitforschung zum Innovationswettbewerb "Sichere Digitale Identitäten" wird den Projekten dabei helfen, die Ziele des Wettbewerbs zu erreichen. Sie wird das Programm dabei unterstützen, über die Einzelprojekte hinaus querschnittliche Fragen sicherer digitaler Identitäten herauszuarbeiten und für alle zu lösen. Sie wird den Transfer der Arbeiten der Projektverbünde in Wirtschaft, Verwaltung und Wissenschaft befördern. Schließlich wird die Begleitforschung die Chancen sicherer digitaler Identitäten der Fachöffentlichkeit ebenso wie einer breiten Öffentlichkeit vor Augen führen. In Summe wird die Begleitforschung so etwas wie ein wissenschaftlich-fachliches Gravitationszentrum, einen zentralen Kümmerer darstellen. Dort erhalten die Projekte umfassende Unterstützung, von dort aus erfolgt eine breite Vernetzung, die Begleitforschung hält hochwertige Expertise bereit und vermittelt Ergebnisse aus dem Innovationswettbewerb in die relevanten Kreise. Über die ausgewählten Schaufensterprojekte hinaus steht die Begleitforschung im Bedarfsfall auch weiteren vom BMWi beauftragten Förderprojekten mit ihren Leistungen zur Verfügung.

  • German Federal Ministry of Education and Research; Systematization of IT security law - ITSRsys

    Systematization of IT security law - ITSRsys

    Subproject: Classification of systems and inclusion of the current state of the art
    Funding type: Research Framework Programme of the German Federal Government on IT Security Self-Determined and Secure in the Digital World
    Funding period: 2020-2022
    Team at ESMT: Martin Schallbruch (DSI), Henning Christian Lahmann (DSI)
    Cooperating institutions: Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT), Institut für Informations- und Wirtschaftsrecht (IIWR)

    IT security requirements are part of a growing number of regulations. In addition to "general" regulations, there is also "sector-specific" IT security law, for example in the telecommunications or financial sectors. In addition, there are "primary" IT security regulations that address the traditional goals of confidentiality, integrity, and availability of IT systems, as well as "secondary" regulations in which the IT security goals are a means to achieve particular subject-specific goals, such as tax secrecy or the integrity of business transactions. IT security provisions are also included in data protection law. Up to now, general and specific law are systematically related to each other only in a limited way. The rapid development of IT security law has led to inconsistencies and contradictions. This makes it more difficult to implement IT security measures and to supply compliant IT security services and IT security products. The "ITSR.sys" project will develop an approach to systematize the entire legal field of IT security.

    The aim is to develop a model of a "General IT Security Law" that spans all areas, sectors, and policy fields and can serve as a basis for the systematic distinction between general and sector-specific regulations, thus contributing to the consistency and coherence of this developing field of law. The project will be carried out in close cooperation with the stakeholders of IT security law in business, government, and academia.



  • German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy; Energy Trading via Blockchain-Technology in the Local Green Grid

    ETIBLOGG - Energy Trading via Blockchain-Technology in the Local Green Grid

    Subproject: Internationale Erfahrungen und Best Practices: Blockchain im Energiesektor
    Funding type: German federal ministry's program “Smart Service Welt II”
    Funding period: 2018-2021
    Team at ESMT: Christoph Burger, Jens Weinmann
    Cooperating institutions: GETEC Energie AG, Mixed Mode GmbH, PONTON GmbH, Fraunhofer IISB, consider it GmbH, NXP Semiconductors Germany GmbH, Universität Hamburg

    Die Wandlung des Energienetzes vom reinen Verteilnetz hin zum Smart Grid ist ein bedeutender Schritt, um die Klimaschutzziele zu erreichen und den Einsatz fossiler Energieträger zu reduzieren. Das Projekt ETIBLOGG adressiert wesentliche Elemente dieses Wandels und forscht an Marktmechanismen und der dafür benötigten IT-Infrastruktur. Blockchain-Technologie bietet eine Möglichkeit, neue Marktplätze und Smart Services für vernetzte Energiesysteme zu realisieren. ESMT Berlin analysiert im Rahmen des Projekts neue Geschäftsmodelle im Energiebereich auf Basis der Blockchain, die bereits in dieser frühen Phase mit der Implementierung, Erprobung und Kundenakzeptanz der Blockchain-Technologie erste Erfahrungen gesammelt haben. Dabei werden für ETIBLOGG relevante Fragestellungen, Herausforderungen und Lösungsvorschläge auf Basis internationaler Erfahrungen und Best Practices identifiziert, formuliert und auf den deutschen Kontext bezogen. So wird dazu beigetragen, dass sich potenzielle Anwendungsfälle nach Projektende im Rahmen der Verwertungsphase auf andere Marktteilnehmer übertragen lassen. Startups und etablierte Unternehmen werden anhand der Kriterien technische Umsetzung/Umsetzbarkeit, Wirtschaftlichkeit und Kundenakzeptanz untersucht.

    Die Erkenntnisse werden anschließend in Interviews mit Startups, Gründern und Vertretern von relevanten Forschungseinrichtungen vertieft. Die Ergebnisse werden in einer Benchmarkstudie zusammengefasst, die mit konkreten Handlungsempfehlungen, Best Practices und Lessons Learned, sowohl im Bereich Förderung bestimmter Geschäftsmodelle als auch regulatorischer Rahmenbedingungen, abschließt. Laufende Erkenntnisse werden während des zweiten und dritten Projektjahrs auf wissenschaftlichen Konferenzen und praxisorientierten Fachtagungen vorgestellt und modifiziert und/oder ergänzt. Zudem werden wissenschaftliche Publikationen in Peer-Reviewed Journals anvisiert.

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