Leonie Gerhards

Leonie Gerhards is postdoc at the Department.

How long have you been employed at the Department of Economics and Business?
I started working here in Aarhus last August. Thus, I have been employed for more than eight months now.

What is your background?
From 2004 to 2008 I studied Economics (diploma) at the University of Bonn. Then I moved on to the Goethe-University Frankfurt, where I worked at Michael Kosfeld’s chair from fall 2008 until last summer when I finished my PhD in Economics.

What are your main areas of research?
My research focus lies in the field of behavioral (personnel) economics. In my present laboratory and field experiments I study different forms of work motivation, be it in the field of monetary incentives – e.g. team or relative performance pay schemes – or via non-monetary incentives – e.g. providing mission incentives or symbolic awards. Furthermore, I investigate how social factors, such as norms, mutual likability and reciprocity affect individuals’ effort provision.

In the near future I intend to expand my work on work motivation to projects examining academic success. The plan is to link survey and university registry data to experimentally elicited personal characteristics of Danish and German students in order to find out which factors make a student successful.

What research projects are you working on at the moment?
Currently, Christina Gravert and I conduct a lab experiment in which we study the motivational factors of peer effects in a task that requires high perseverance from the experimental subjects. We expect that positive role-models increase their followers’ performance in that task. Furthermore, we want to find out whether the appropriate role-model should be slightly better in the task or rather slightly worse than the follower, similar to the idea “if even he can do it, so can I”.

What are you involved in teaching-wise at the moment?
This semester I teach my first own lecture, which is a bachelor’s course on experimental economics. Despite the fact that I have to teach Monday morning at 8 o’clock it is a highly rewarding experience. The students are very enthusiastic about the topic and continually come up with interesting ideas for new experiments.

Are you planning to take part in any conferences or the like abroad in the near future?
I just came back from a conference on personnel economics in Cologne.

Currently, I help organizing the Nordic Conference in Behavioral and Experimental Economics that we are going to host in Aarhus this September. This puts me in the comfortable position that I do not have to travel far away to listen to stimulating presentations. On the contrary, I am very much looking forward to bringing interesting researchers to Aarhus! Besides that,

I hope to be able to attend a few additional smaller workshops in Europe in the next couple of months.

Are you expecting any visiting researchers from abroad in the near future (or have you had any visitors from abroad recently)?
Next week my co-author from the University of Nottingham, Daniele Nosenzo is going to visit me for a few days. And I hope that in connection with the Nordic Conference a couple of more visitors will stay a bit longer in Aarhus.

Are you cooperating with researchers from other departments at AU at the moment?
Not yet. From time to time I visit seminars and workshops that are organized by the Interacting Minds Centre. Hopefully this will result in some joint projects in the near future.

What do you do when you are not at work?
I love to go horseback riding! At the moment I take weekly riding lessons at Årslevgårdens Rideforening on one of their school horses, but in the long run I hope to find a shared horse again. Moreover, I attend Danish classes at Lærdansk, and like to go out with friends in the weekends.

Supplementary question from Heiner Schumacher: What things should a German econ department (like that at Goethe-University Frankfurt) copy from Aarhus? And why?
I really appreciate the Danish non-hierarchical department structure. I believe it facilitates and enhances the generation of new ideas and the implementation of improvements. Many German universities lack this drive for innovation (fortunately the econ department in Frankfurt not so much), because they simply do not listen to the ideas of the younger faculty members.

Please give us your suggestion for the next department staff member to be presented:
Emma von Essen

What specific supplementary question would you like him or her to answer?
Coming from a Scandinavian country, I would like to ask Emma what are the main differences between the Scandinavian university cultures – and, in particular, between Swedish and Danish universities?

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