Common sense suggests that cooperation is good and conflict, by and large, is bad. To economists, however, the benefits of conflict are clear at different levels: not only at the macro level, in the fruitful effects of free-market competition, but also at the level of individuals and firms. Conversely, cooperation can have negative effects, as when collusion occurs in a marketplace.
Conflict and cooperation manifest themselves in countless ways: in the workplace, we cooperate in project teams but compete for promotion; firms compete, but aim to avoid competitive pressure through product differentiation and collusion; countries compete to attract business by lowering taxes but collaborate via trade agreements. Issues such as these are key to the work of scholars in the Conflict and Cooperation theme, whose research ranges across fields including emerging markets, bargaining, leadership, information sharing, social choice theory, competition policy and oligopoly theory.
The Conflict and Cooperation team uses methods ranging from multilevel analysis and growth modelling to field experiments and game theory. Subjects are studied not only in static contexts but dynamic ones, for example analysing how people learn to cooperate in organisations and how conflicts evolve over time. Its members are drawn from across the faculty, including the departments of economics, quantitative economics, and organisation and strategy, along with UNU-Merit academics. The faculty’s strengths in both fundamental and applied game theory are key to the team’s work, with significant potential for exploring game-theoretical applications in business research. In recent years, SBE has organised two world-leading conferences in this area, GAMES 2016 and EARIE 2017.
Iwan Bos has received the International Journal of Economic Theory's Lionel McKenzie Prize, which is awarded to scholars aged 40 or under who have made an outstanding contribution to economic theory. He joins his CoCo and SBE colleague Jean-Jacques Herings, who claimed the prize in 2008, on IJET's honour roll.
"Reasoning about others" may seem like an exotic intellectual exercise, but all of us do it every day, says Andrés Perea. That's why talking to non-experts about something as complex as epistemic game theory isn't as difficult as you'd think.... and what's more, it can be a lot of fun, too.
In financial networks, when one firm defaults others may follow, and clearing procedures aim to sort out who gets paid and who goes bankrupt. Jean-Jacques Herings' co-authored research tests whether decentralised clearing processes are any better than centralised ones at untangling the bankruptcy mess.
What's the secret to making a big impact as a small research group? Hannes Guenter, associate professor of organisational behaviour at SBE, looked at academic teams and found fascinating insights into the best strategies for success, as measured by publications in high-impact journals.
Maastricht University, 8 September 2018
Andrés Perea, associate professor of quantitative economics at SBE spoke on epistemic game theory at Maastricht's annual festival of pleasure, arts and science. His lecture was entitled 'Epistemic Game Theory: Reasoning about Other People's Thoughts'/'Epistemische Speltheorie: Redeneren over Andermans Gedachten'.
Getting the right amount – and the right kind – of conflict and cooperation is important for teams, departments and organisations alike. Yet what is 'right' depends on the context. We collaborate with organisations on research questions such as the (re-)design of tasks, teams and organisations, or which leadership, culture or HR strategy might be the best fit
Game theory is concerned with the analysis and design of games. The central question in designing a game is: how can we be sure to aggregate and decide on the basis of the right information when we know people behave strategically? Examples abound, from the design of voting systems for political elections, where we want people to vote truthfully, to auctions, where we want bidders to bid truthfully. The design and implementation of such games are central to game theory and social choice theory
Conflict of interest between individuals or groups is often deliberately engineered to generate incentives for effort provision. Examples include job promotion and bonus schemes based on relative performance, architecture and innovation contests, and sports competitions. With my research, I aim to contribute to a better understanding of behaviour and institutional design in competitions such as these