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LEOH Conference

The second Lecture on "The Economics of Organizations and Human Ressouces", or LEOH (http://leoh.eu/), offered interesting insights into organizational economics’ development and future for the attending students of the International Doctorate Program "Evidence-Based Economics".

Oliver Hart, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA

Oliver Hart and coauthor's work has greatly influenced economics, and since the bachelor's level, the EBE students are accustomed to this line of thinking about firms, ownership rights, and its many applications in different economic fields. It was an absolute privilege to listen to Oliver Hart personally in his excellent and intuitive outlining of the main ideas. Especially impressive is the fact that it all started with a relatively simple question: "Why do firms exist?" In a perfect world there would be no need for them: markets would take care of everything. However, it is the imperfectness of the world, the problem that even the best contracts will still be woefully incomplete, that brings about organizations that are so pervasive in economic life. Indeed, studies on organizations are a field of study in themselves.

The mix of both lectures and presentations in the LEOH conference allowed better understanding of these origins of organizational economics as well as learning about current research in this field and offered hence a unique, holistic perspective. Oliver Hart's last lecture, which was also the keynote speech for the inauguraral meeting of the "Committee of Organizational Economics" of the Verein für Socialpolitik, may give an outlook where the field may be headed in the long run, asking the question: "What is the proper objective of the firm?".

This and other questions were discussed during breaks among the attendees of the LEOH conference. The familiar atmosphere at the conference allowed EBE students to approach presenters and other senior attendees and be part of these discussions.

Overall, the LEOH conference showed that economics is in comparison a relatively young science and that answering fundamental questions of economic life with academic vigour can yield exciting and important insights which can impact of how we understand economics. This is very encouraging for the EBE students and it is with great pleasure that we see Oliver Hart has been awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his achievements just weeks after LEOH: http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/economic-sciences/

Text: Annemarie Gronau

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