Project code



Economics and Finance

Start dates

October, February and April

Closing date

Applications accepted all year round

Applications for this project have now closed. Please see the Economics and Finance postgraduate research degree course pages for further information on research degrees in these areas.

The PhD will be based in the Faculty of Business and Law, and will be supervised by Dr Wolfgang J. Luhan and Dr Federica Alberti. Dr Sascha Füllbrunn (Radboud University) will be involved as a third external supervisor.

The work on this project could involve:

  • research design and project management
  • theoretical modelling
  • experimental design and implementation
  • quantitative data analysis – econometrics and non-parametric inference tests

“An awful lot of people are not managing their own money […] (at) most of the big companies you have managers who, when things go well, walk off with a lot of money. When things go bad the shareholders bear the costs […] It's a system where ‘you socialize the losses and privatize the gains,’ […]”. (Stiglitz, 2010) Economics Situations where decision makers try to “privatize gains and socialize losses” are manifold (e.g., “too big to fail” banks; the nuclear power industry leaving society to cope with their waste, bilateral investment treaties that protect investors restrict societies in their political freedom,…).

This research project aims to understand environments in which decision makers use other people’s resources such that gains are privatized (left with the decision maker) while losses are socialised (left with other people). Using a theoretical modelling approach and economic experiments, we will consider several situations under PGSL conditions to systematically analyse the motivations of the decision maker and ultimately understand how to better distribute the regulatory burden and optimize social risk taking.

The project considers individual decision making under risk, market environments like asset markets, industrial organization situations, as well as political decision making. This project is embedded in a larger research program on decision making for others (surrogate decision making). The specific aim of this project will be to analyse the nature and impact of factors affecting the decision making, such as responsibility, egoistic and social preferences and the psychological and social distance between the decision maker and the affected parties. 

The main theoretical background will stem from behavioural economics and finance including related developments in (social-) psychology. The main method for data collection will be experiments, either in the laboratory, online or in the field. The data analysis will incorporate both parametric and non-parametric statistics.


Stiglitz, J.E. (2010) The financial Freefall, CNBC interview,, accessed 07/11/19

Fees and funding

Funding availability: Self-funded PhD students only. 

PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the UK Government Doctoral Loan (UK and EU students only).


2020/2021 fees (applicable for October 2020 and February 2021 start)

Home/EU/CI full-time students: £4,407 p/a*

Home/EU/CI part-time students: £2,204 p/a*

International full-time students: £15,100 p/a*

International part-time students: £7,550 p/a* 

*All fees are subject to annual increase

Entry requirements

You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum upper second class or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in an appropriate subject. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

We welcome applications from highly motivated prospective students with a background in behavioural sciences (e.g. economics, psychology and other relevant disciplines) with an interest in the field of decision making for others (surrogate decision making). A familiarity with behavioural theory, game theory, econometrics and experimental methods is desirable (familiarity with at least one of these is essential). We encourage prospective students to design their own research strategies depending on their interest and core skills.

How to apply

We’d encourage you to contact Dr Luhan ( to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, you can use our online application form. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV.  Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process. 

Please also include a research proposal of 1,000 words outlining the main features of your proposed research design – including how it meets the stated objectives, the challenges this project may present, and how the work will build on or challenge existing research in the above field.

If you want to be considered for this self-funded PhD opportunity you must quote project code ECFN5080220 when applying.

October start

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February start

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