ERC Starting Grant: Behavioral Foundations of Power and Autonomy

Power relations are an integral part of economic organizations, as well as political and social institutions. People exercise power over others – or are exposed to the power of others – in government, in firms, and even in families. Attitudes towards power and autonomy have important economic and societal consequences; examples include such diverse matters as the willingness to delegate power to government, empire building in (public) organizations, or sorting into more or less autonomous jobs. Clearly, people care deeply about power and autonomy in different dimensions of their lives. In recent referenda, a majority of British people voted for leaving the EU and many Catalan people voted to become independent of Spain. In their professional lives, people may prefer to work self-employed or choose jobs that grant them independence and freedom – even though this can sometimes come at the cost of a lower income.

Understanding this need for power and autonomy is at the core of this ERC project. Who are the people who have strong preferences for autonomy and power? How are these preferences determined, do they differ between cultures, and can they predict the demand for different institutions and organizational structures? How can we measure and model these preferences?

This ERC project has been granted to Holger Herz by the European Research Council and started in March 2019. On this website, we will publish our newest results and articles and keep you updated about the progress of the project.


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