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Excellence Initiative

General Information

On 23 June 2005 the German federal and state governments agreed on an initiative to promote top-level research in Germany. The "Excellence Initiative" aims to both promote top-level research and improve the quality of German universities and research institutions, thereby making a significant contribution to strengthening science and research in Germany in the long term, improving its international competitiveness and raising the profile of the top performers in academia and research. The total budget of the initiative was € 1.9 billion for the period 2006 through 2011 and is € 2.7 billion for the period 2012 through 2017.

Mannheim Department of Economics is Research Funding Winner

The Excellence Initiative Grants Committee announced on 13 October 2006 that under the Excellence Initaitive the University of Mannheim will receive more than € 6 million between 2006 and 2011 for the 
"Graduate School of Economic and Social Sciences: Empirical and Quantitative Methods".
Due to the enourmous success of the Graduate School, the Excellence Initiative Grants Committee decided on 15 June 2012 to continue financial support of more than € 8.8 million until 2017. All over Germany, this is the only Graduate School under the Excellence Initaitive with participation of the economic sciences.

The Project

The Graduate School provides graduate training in empirical and quantitative methods and their application to business, economics, and the social sciences. Its mission is to train young academics according to best international practice with a strong focus on excellence in research. The goal of the Graduate School is to establish itself as a leading center of excellence in doctoral training in empirical and quantitative methods in the economic and social sciences.

The Graduate School is the first of its kind in Germany and among very few in the world to integrate the disciplines of business, economics, and the social sciences into a coherent curriculum. It is organized into the Center for Doctoral Studies in Business, the Center for Doctoral Studies in Economics, and the Center for Doctoral Studies in Social and Behavioral Sciences. The School’s premise is that excellence in research can only be achieved through excellence in a given discipline. Therefore, each doctoral center focuses primarily on achieving excellence in research in its own discipline. However, teaching and research in the Graduate School are concentrated in those central building blocks of modern economic and social sciences that are common among the participating disciplines. This makes it possible to create a coherent structure without compromising on quality in specialized research. The School fosters the exchange of ideas across the boundary of disciplines by co-ordinating graduate curricula and by encouraging students to benefit from advanced teaching in empirical and quantitative methods in neighboring fields.

The graduate program in Economics is structured in such a way that all students receive a thorough training in empirical and quantitative methods as well as economic theory first and can then decide either to continue to work on more methodologically oriented questions, such as econometrics, survey design, or optimization and computational methods, or to work on selected empirical applications that build directly on the more methodologically oriented research areas.

The academic environment in Mannheim is ideally suited to give students a broad view and an in-depth understanding of both the economy and society. All three faculties and departments participating in the Graduate School are among the best in Germany and are internationally highly recognized. They are imbedded in a wide-ranging set of distinguished international research collaborations. In Mannheim they cooperate with large research institutes, such as the ZEW, MZES, ZUMA, and the ZI, which participate in the graduate school by contributing doctoral training and research positions. The graduate school thus builds on disciplinary excellence and interdisciplinary cooperation.

Expert Appraisal

Excerpts from the statement given by the international panel of experts and the review group of the German research council (DFG) in 2006:

"The academics involved are known internationally for excellent publications in the best peer-reviewed journals."

"The … graduate school will pursue a highly innovative approach in both Germany and Europe as a whole through the interdisciplinary integration of the three participating fields: economics, business, and the social and behavioral sciences, and through the promotion of an intellectually challenging graduate culture."

"The graduate school will contribute considerably to and in a world-wide innovative manner further refine the academic profile of the University of Mannheim."

"The evaluating committee agrees unanimously that the location represents a peak combination of business, economic, and social sciences."

"The members of the proposing team are internationally renowned and well integrated into academic networks. There is no doubt that given this world-wide novel approach the graduate school will gain an international reputation and will be a winner in Germany."

"Mannheim alumni and post-docs are already in high repute as successful applicants at renowned international research institutions."

"The concept for qualification convinces in every aspect."

"The opportunities on the job markets for the school’s graduates will be systematically and institutionally promoted. … On the whole, the evaluation committee is most impressed by this concept."

"The organization into three components and the management thereof are reviewed as being of exceptional design."

Excerpts from the statement given by the international panel of experts and the review group of the German research council (DFG) in 2012:

"The University of Mannheim ... is regarded as one of the first addresses for empirical and quantitative research in the economic and social sciences."

"The dynamic group of principal investigators which was strengthened by a large number of newly appointed members is characterized by scientific excellence throughout and is internationally highly visible for their research output."

"The scientific outcome of the first funding period is exceptionally impressive; the senior researchers as well as the doctoral students and graduates were able to publish their research findings in the best field journals."

"The vocational success of the graduates is highly visible and casts a very positive light on the success of the Mannheim Graduate School."

"All in all the Mannheim Graduate School is believed to be able to establish a new standard in the education of doctoral students in the participating fields. The prospects of success are excellent ..."

Press Comments

Wall Street Journal, November 10, 2006

5.6.2013       Created by Th. Lindenbauer