RWI is a modern center for scientific research and evidence-based policy advice. Its leitmotif in research is “Individual prosperity and economic policy in the times of demographic and societal change.”
The topic of “demographic transition in economic analysis” is also the Leitmotif of the Ruhr Graduate School in Economics (RGS Econ). That school was founded in the fall of 2004 in collaboration with the economics faculties at the universities at Bochum, Dortmund and Duisburg-Essen.
RWI will continue to be aware of its roots in the region and its mission to analyze its peculiarities. It is one of the founding institutes of the Ruhr Science Forum, launched in 2004, where the non-university research institutions of the Ruhr Region have organized themselves.
Requirements are changing
Over the last years the demands imposed by funding agencies are growing relentlessly - in regard to scientific and technical quality, in regard to the transparency of the presentation of the results and recommendations, and in regard to the competitive abilities of the associates. Meanwhile not only the traditional distribution of tasks between economic research institutes and the academic research landscape is questioned, but the continued existence of the institutions in general.
Substantive and organizational reorientation at RWI
Since 2003 RWI has implemented a substantive and organizational reorientation to establish harmonized and clearly delineated research and work profiles. Thereby it strengthened the quality of its economic policy consulting praxis through scientific quality. On the one hand RWI delivers the required breadth of the expertise in economic policy consulting praxis. On the other hand it strives in selected key areas – supported by networking with universities and other research institutes – to achieve or retain market leadership in research, as well. Its organizational structure which supports this progress by imparting flexibility is a decisive competitive advantage here.
Flexible organization in “Areas of Competence”
RWI-research projects are bundled in key areas and further in areas of competence or divisions. The science workers find their organizational grounding in these divisions whereby both multiple anchoring and reassignment are possible if the associate's own research focus should shift. The earlier rigid subdivision of the Institute into so-called research groups has been eliminated and the project managers now have to recruit their associates in the spirit of an internal competition.
Key area “Individual Prosperity”
The two divisions “Labor Markets, Education, Population” and “Health Economics” bring together projects on questions associated with individual prosperity. Their work in the fields of health and education explores fields which are largely new for the German research community as a whole. In the meantime these divisions have lodged a claim to leadership in these core topics by way of publications and expert analyses, this above all in the evaluation of labor market projects.
Key area “Enterprises and Markets”
Two further divisions – “Enterprises and Innovation” and “Environment and Resources” pursue the Leitmotif from the perspective of companies and markets. In both divisions the strengths of the past - research into the trades on the one hand and into energy matters on the other - are to be expanded by adding new topics. In the field of company founding and the success of new companies and in the field of new technologies RWI has significantly stabilized its good competitive position by way of further projects. The institute's leading role in research on emissions and emissions trading is, to an ever greater extent, being augmented by topics associated with environmental economy.
Key area “Macroeconomic Questions”
In the divisions associated with macroeconomic questions – “Growth and Cycles” and “Public Finance” – the Institute's previous strengths in current business cycle diagnostics and prognoses as well as the analysis of public budgets are to be augmented systematically with new topics in particular in view of the implications of demographic transition for business growth and the design of the system for public revenues and expenditures.
The divisions are augmented by the non-scientific departments and the “Research Data Centre Ruhr at the RWI”.
Competencies are steadily advanced
Achieving the objectives mentioned presumes continuous expansion of methodic and substantive competencies. Mentioned by way of example is the fact that a fundamental development in empirical research, i.e. increased application of microeconometric methods, has been carried out at RWI. This happens through further developing its scientists individually and working out new topics and research focal points and by the carefully planned recruiting of new associates in entry level and leadership positions.
The broad mission as defined in its bylaws and the business-like organization of operating procedures make it possible to carry out closely coordinated projects in a methodically coherent fashion and thus to draw additional value from the concentration of empirical economics researchers in a single facility. At the same time the eminently manageable size of RWI Essen - currently with about 60 science workers - makes possible direct and project-related cooperation among the executive board, project managers and associates. This allows to sharpen the research profile.
Quality assurance and evaluation
Publication success and the acquisition of much-sought-after third-party funding provide an unequivocal evaluation of the scientific output of RWI. Its outputs are also subject to continuous monitoring. In addition to a number of internal quality assurance mechanisms external roads to quality assurance are key.
The Scientific Advisory Board with its highly respected members and its balance in regard to the disciplines represented supervises and actively shapes the development of the Institute with a high degree of dedication. It regularly audits RWI in order to obtain a systematic “inventory” of its resources.
Also of prime importance is the external quality assurance process which the Leibniz Association has implemented for its member institutions. In January of 2005 the scientific performance, the coherence of the research program and the research policy significance were evaluated by an independent, outside board of experts. RWI passed this evaluation with flying colors (Comments by the Senate of the Leibniz Association). In May of 2006 the Federal-State Commission for Education Planning and Research Sponsorship approved the further granting of funds to RWI. In 2012 RWI was evaluated again – with outstanding results (Comments by the Senate of the Leibniz Association).
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