During the last decade, the Marie Curie Fellowship and the Erasmus scholarship programmes have been the two major success stories of the European Commission’s higher education programmes. The Marie Curie Fellowships are open to researchers of any nationality working anywhere in the world, and have therefore been a global success. In 2009, about 1,200 Intra-European and International Incoming Fellowships were awarded, 70 of which to researchers working in the Netherlands, and no less than six to scholars at the School of Business and Economics. This makes SBE one of the most successful single participants, and is proof of the excellent quality of researchers SBE produces.
Dr Kelly Geyskens’ (Department of Marketing) research on food temptations aims to explain what determines whether consumers are likely to either increase their food consumption, or exert and strengthen their self-control when exposed to food temptations. Recent development trends an ‘obesogenic environment’ characterised by the availability of a multitude of unhealthy and tempting foodstuffs, which has led to an enormous increase in the consumption of fattening snacks. Some recent studies demonstrate that increased exposure to temptations can in fact enhance self-control because this may also activate counteractive self-control and help individuals stick to their goals. Geyskens joined us from Leuven University in Belgium.
Dr Kaj Thomson (Department of Economics) would like to get a better understanding of the ongoing process of reform in existing welfare state institutions. The basic question is why some countries have reformed their social policies and institutional structures – for instance by fully funding their pension systems – while others have either tried and failed to carry out similar reforms, or chosen not to attempt any reforms at all. A methodological approach based on game-theoretic studies of interest group structures and political institutions is to shed light on this inherently complex research area. Thomson – who is Swedish – did his PhD research on a similar topic at Yale University in the USA.
Dr Giovanni Motta’s (Department of Quantitative Economics) project focuses on developing theoretical and applied research on forecasting economic and financial data, whose underlying structure changes over time. The classical theory of forecasting is well developed under the assumption that the data generating process remains stationary over time. Simply put, stationarity means that the properties of the underlying model do not change with time. What makes this project original is that non-stationarity is treated in a smooth way for the first time. The results could help improve results of forecasts, for example in financial markets. Motta joined us from UC Louvain in Belgium, and is of Italian descent.
Dr Olivier Marie (Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market) is interested in the linkages between human capital investment and the criminal behaviour of youths using a unique dataset for the Netherlands. A young individual’s choice not to invest in education and to commit offences instead is likely to stem from low expectations of future labour markets and life opportunities. The results of this research will have implications for the design of education policies aimed at preventing the onset of criminality in young individuals.
Dr Thomas Post (Department of Finance) project aims at assessing the awareness of unexpected changes of future survival probabilities (stochastic mortality) among individuals. Stochastic mortality can be an important determinant, for example of each individual’s decisions on consumption, saving, asset allocation, and retirement timing. The results have implications for pension reforms, which emphasise individually managed retirement savings and asset allocation. Post is German and joined us from Humboldt University of Berlin.
The sixth PhD student to be awarded a Marie Curie Fellowship, Dr Nga Pham of the Education Research Department, will conduct her research elsewhere, at Antwerp University.
SBE is extremely pleased and very proud to host so many excellent scholars in the foreseeable future, and we trust the Marie Curie Scholarship will help them achieve the best possible results, in the best possible academic environment.