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Former Graduate Programme Competition Economics (DFG GRK 1974)

The Graduate Programme Competition Economics was a PhD programme funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG GRK 1974) and organized by the Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE) at Heinrich-Heine University.

In May 2014, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) had announced that it would fund the Graduate Programme Competition Economics until 2019. In 2018, the funding was extended until September 2023. The Spokesperson of the Graduate Programme Competition Economics was Professor Hans-Theo Normann.

The graduate program focused on applied research in competition economics, utilizing micro-economic, empirical, and experimental methods. An industrial organization approach was employed, investigating the potential and limits of competition, as well as the sources and consequences of market power. The research aimed at deriving policy solutions and recommendations for competition policy and market regulation purposes to protect and strengthen market competition. The approach also utilized institutional economics, which accounted for the political and regulatory environment, as well as for boundedly rational consumer behavior.

The program was divided into three focus areas that complemented each other. The focus area "Institutions" analyzed the design and consequences of competition rules and market regulations at both a general and a sector-specific level. The area "Related Markets" comprised the analysis of interdependent markets, including two-sided markets, vertically and internationally related markets. The third area targeted "Consumer Behavior" and examined both demand-sided frictions and the implications of deviations from rational behavior among consumers for competition and consumer policy, and how both policy areas interacted.

The program's specific focus on competition economics in teaching and research, together with its local concentration at DICE and the many links to competition policy practice, provided a unique and hitherto non-existing program for the education of doctoral students in Germany and Europe. The program's scope was interdisciplinary because law and management science were well integrated.

The selective recruitment process and the immediate specialization in research-oriented topics courses encouraged independent research right from the beginning. The identification of relevant research topics in the area of competition economics was supported by a problem-oriented course program, a visitor program, and intense exchange in the Research Workshops. The preparation of the doctoral dissertation was guided by a series of milestones, where the early guidance by mentors, a quick assignment to two supervisors, and a commission for the completion of the thesis were important elements.